Green And Pleasant

London’s myriad of asymmetric towers, seen from Norwood Park, half a mile from my home across a surprising oasis of green

After a short spell in the suburban desert of North Surrey, I was lucky enough to live in the depths of the New Forest, which, for those of you not familiar with the intimate details of England is one hundred square miles of National Park close to the south coast nestling between Southampton and Bournemouth. It’s pretty flat, covered in a lot of heather and bog with the odd smattering of trees, its own unique population of indigenous ponies and much other wildlife only found there. People holiday there; many aspire to live in its relatively secure and secluded bosom. My parents moved the family there in their forties and for them it was the best decision ever.

I was twelve.

My view on that decision? It sucked, like being force fed unripe lemons while listening to a duet between Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan singing ‘Happy’.

As soon as I could I took myself to Bristol, to University. Glory be. People. Stuff to do that didn’t involve being bitten (unless the biter was another consenting adult). Places to get to easily. Buses that ran more than once a decade. I loved it but it was a student love affair and when that ended something died with it. Just a little.

I moved to London. I was terrified. I had no clue how I’d cope. I assumed I’d be there while I established a legal career and then move to suburbia where I was born, become a commuter and join local clubs and societies and be generally rather English and pretty parochial.

And then I got my bearings and I fell in love. Hook, line and sodding sinker with the place, with its multitude of contradictions, its failings, its dirt and pollution, its crowds and delays, its antiquated transport system, its oddly disturbing smells, its ugly buildings, its…

… bloody everythings.

I’m a city boy; that was established in the first weeks of October in 1975 when I went to live in Bristol. But more than that, after 40 plus years here I’m a Londoner. I’ve visited other great cities in this country and in Britain and around the world. Some are stunning, in my top ten: Edinburgh and Paris; Sydney and San Francisco; New York and Cape Town…

But none beat this gritty old city. Why? I’m not sure. It’s walkable, that helps. It’s certainly green. But I suppose at root it’s not the buildings, the open spaces, the culture, the museums, the galleries, the sport… It’s probably the people. It wouldn’t be what it is without its shifting, shifty, shining, shabby populous. I consider myself a lucky lad, unless I’m being cut up at the lights, or forced to share someone’s three week old armpit on the tube….

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published four books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars, Salisbury Square and Buster & Moo. In addition I have published three anthologies of short stories and a memoir of my mother. More will appear soon. I will try and continue to blog regularly at geofflepard.com about whatever takes my fancy. I hope it does yours too. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
This entry was posted in London, love, miscellany and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to Green And Pleasant

  1. Ritu says:

    I do love London 🥰

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Lesley says:

    Lol, great post! When I was young, I always wanted to live in the countryside (at the moment we’re in a semi-rural small town) but now I think I’d love to move to the city … never happy!
    I was brought up in Glasgow, but I love Edinburgh and Liverpool. 😀
    ‘A duet between Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan’ …. hee-hee.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. willowdot21 says:

    I love London to born and bread , I suppose it’s in the blood. Great photo 💜

    Liked by 2 people

  4. M. L. Kappa says:

    Great love letter, Goeff!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Being a Londoner, it is special to me, there is nowhere like it, I agree. Lovely read.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I’ve never been, but somehow I know I’d love London. Spent my favorite 24 hours of my life (don’t tell my kids; they weren’t born yet) in Paris. Would also like to try Edinburgh. I’m a city girl at heart, though that wasn’t in the cards for raising kids. I do love my tiny little town for that. Just last night, my young city guy asked when we’re going to New York–he’s never been. It’s an easy train ride from D.C. I know he’ll love it, and so will I–when we don’t have to be worried about catching more than ya know, armpits and the usual.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. London is my favourite city too, Geoff, and I’ve also visited a few.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. CARAMEL says:

    I am sure I have been to music events at Norwood Park with friend who lived nearby.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Aww!! It’s a special blessing to live in a place you love….

    Liked by 2 people

  10. A sweet song of love for your city

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Elizabeth says:

    I am going to try to read the posts I missed and then comment on the lot. I am half way through your great mystery. I am reminded of the bed hopping in my college years such as when my boy friend married my roommate!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. arlingwoman says:

    I liked London a lot when visiting. I found the people warm, rather than rude (NY) or cold as the reputation goes. Sometimes people are lucky enough to find their place and it sounds like you have. I feel the same way about the DC Metro area–this will be my 41st year here this month.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. As a lapsed Londoner who has changed places with you I can see your point.

    Liked by 1 person

If you would like to reply please do so here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.