Earlier this week when I discovered from my Facebook memories that I have in fact been living in London for 4 years I've been thinking how I really have no idea where this time has gone or what I have been doing since I left Ireland, all I know is I’m living for the upcoming Bank Holiday weekend. I am living breathing proof that you really do just get lost in London Life. Finding out this week that I've been here 4 years (you’d think I’d have known but I didn’t) has me reflecting on things I have learned, things I wish I knew, and how different I am now to the girl that left Ireland.
Everything is in a calendar
I don’t know what it is about London but for some reason life is just working and socialising just like when you are studying your life was school and socialising. However, in London spontaneity is not really a thing like yes you will end up in the most random places, with random people and do the most random things but the original plan was always there. You don’t just run into your friends while you are out somewhere like you would while living in smaller towns or cities. Every meet up and catch up is planned in advance. It may sound odd but having friends over to your house is a very rare thing and I’ve yet to have a friend just pop round my house for a coffee unannounced, or now that I think of it in general. It’s probably due to travelling and the fact you can’t just drive home. No one ever comes to your house unless it’s a BBQ or a planned drinks night in -all meet ups are pre-planned and usually central.
You bail on a lot of plans
This isn’t everyone and always but sometimes you will bail on those scheduled plans. For me I am the person who is a 50/50 bailer it depends on the day and how I feel. I know it’s not a great quality but London is so exhausting all of the time and if I’m tired and do not want to do something then I won’t. It’s that simple for me! I don’t make up an excuse or fake an illness I just say I’m going home and I really don’t feel bad about it for one second. If several messages start flying in, then this bitch hits mute and that’s it. It may seem impolite but it really is part of the London lifestyle and sometimes going home to cook and binge watch TV is all you want to do. Every day is manic in London and there’s never any down time so it’s really important to create your own. If your friends fall out with you over it then its fine coz like I said you never run into them unplanned anyway so you can cut them out and find some new ones (joke).
When you move to London what people never seem to tell you is that you will be sick majority of the time. Since I moved here I am sick on average every two months and need an antibiotic about 3-4 times a year which is way above how often you should have one but it is genuinely always needed. London is just a big ball of germs and the main cause of this is from the tube. If you think of the amount of people who get the tube every day and one person is sick and they are coughing and sneezing in the carriage, the air is not clean and there is no ventilation to cleanse the air, the sick people hold on to the poles, and then you touch them straight after. It’s a never ending cycle of germs, and if you have any weakness in your immune system then this just becomes part of your daily life. It may not always be a full blown viral infection or flu but coughs, colds, and sore throats are a regular thing. Some people also think it’s the pollution here or the fact that no one ever rests. I mean it’s probably a combination of all of this but I can confirm that this is a fact and you will be sick far more frequently while you live in London. You just have to accept your doom and buy shares in your local pharmacy coz you’re going to need it.
I can admit that the tube brings out the worst in me. I don’t know what it is but I am always on the brink of killing someone and ready to plead insanity in any future murder trial. I get on the tube in a perfectly fine mood but by the time I get off of it I am livid with someone or something. I am usually fine until I hear that one voice every single morning in a snide sarky tone say “oh come on people make some room we can all fit in here can’t we? I have a job too you know” I swear the second I hear that person it's all downhill from there. The fact this person thinks they are so above everyone else and that people have to make room and stand in an uncomfortable position for them to get on the tube just drives me mad. Then you have the self-absorbed people who use the poles to lean their whole body against while people are holding on to it so your hand gets crushed – it’s so rude! But I have figured out that after several attempts of people trying to move this person and they still refuse to acknowledge you then this is where your acrylic nails come in handy! I also have a good trick for when the standard rude business man refuses to leave you off the tube by moving aside, when I have to squeeze past him and his crisp white shirt I make sure my freshly done make up rubs the whole away across him as I pass leaving a nice stain on his shirt (I did ask you to move – so explain that to your wife later ya prick). Like I said the tube brings out the absolute worst in me but it’s because I have no tolerance for rude or obnoxious people so over time you develop your own little way of dealing with this and learn to not kill. Once you master that then all you have to do is put up with the pushing, shoving, name calling and people smashing into you. Also the day you know you’re a 'Londoner' is when you judge people for talking on the tube to strangers – it’s an unwritten but known rule that you don’t speak to others on the tube and when 'non Londoners' (usually middle-aged American tourists) approach us on tubes asking about our lives we don’t think ye are friendly – we think ye are unbareable. Shops, streets, restaurants are all green lights for conversation but the tube is a no go area.
There is a well-known thing called London heat and it’s a heat that makes people cry. Not while you are out in the park enjoying the sun with cold drinks or on a roof top bar because obviously those are the best days in London when the sun is shining. It’s the night time in the summer when your house is baked from the heat and the sticky dead heat causes you not to sleep. My first few summers here were torture mainly coz I don’t like heat anyway unless there is a Pina colada and a pool so I use to lie awake sobbing because it was 32 degrees and nothing I did would help. The best thing you can do is invest in some aircon or buy some fans and circle them all around your bed and sleep with no covers or just a light sheet. My saving grace was the lido (outdoor pool) near my house, on days where it is just too hot then I would pack up my bag for the day and hit the pool. There are lidos and lakes to swim in all over London and they really are the best summer days. Me and the Beeb love Lido days and just lying about the pool, drinking Iced coffees, practising the dirty dancing lift, and then stopping somewhere local for dinner on the way home. You just have to embrace the heat and make the most of the days when the sun arrives in London.
I’ll map it!
The sentence you will have said since you arrived in London till the day you die. I have no idea before London how I found my way anywhere. Since moving here using google maps or city mapper just becomes a massive part of your daily life. Once you have been somewhere once you know the way but in London its always somewhere new so before you leave your house you will map it and do whatever your app tells you to do. I don’t think anyone apart from black cab drivers know where anything actually is in London and how to get there without a map app. Even when I know the way that I should go I’ll still allow the arrow to follow me on the app while I walk and if there is some diversion in my way that’s not stated on the map -there is a split moment of panic and anxiousness. It’s ridiculous really when you think about it but if you ask anyone who lives in London they will confirm that they use some form of map app to survive. The only issue is with this is that when I go home to Ireland even though I know the way around I am still dependent on it and have many a night tried to get an Uber in Waterford City – can confirm there are no Uber’s and no one will come get you in their Prius, you gotta hall your Boujee ass to a taxi rank and wait it out (vom).
You graft at work and nowhere else!
Like the Uber situation I just mentioned I found that in London there is no real graft outside work. Everything is as modern and up to date as possible so that everything in life is made really easy for you. There are no finding taxi ranks here as the Uber will just come to get you wherever you are, there is no cut off for take away to be delivered it can be delivered at any time (usually ordering it from your Uber on the way home). It’s not just takeaway's that deliver its pretty much every restaurant in London that will allow a delivery happen via Uber eats, just eat, or deliveroo. Very few people I know don't have their grocery shop delivered to their house, and almost each house hold has amazon prime so that you only have to wait 2 to 24 hours for an item. When you get the tube and its longer than 3 mins on the board before the next tube you will comment and say how disgraceful it is to wait that long! We are so spoiled here in London that we really have no idea just how much until we leave and go anywhere else. Everything is made so simple for us and has minimal effort so long as you are willing to pay for the minimal effort but in London no one ever questions the money because we are all so exhausted from the city itself we will pay anything to make everything easier.
The 5-year plan to have a 5-year plan
London is all about living in the now. We all have our 5 year plans here in London but the truth is our 5-year plan is to make a 5-year plan in 5 years. Majority of people can’t buy houses here because of the 20% deposit upfront on an apartment that is £300,000 so the normal 'wife-house-baby' plan is just not a common thing here. Yes, people have babies and houses but for most people the house is for those above 30 and the baby happens above 40 so that both parents have high paying jobs and can get a nanny because paying the 35k for the nanny is cheaper than one of ye quitting your job and minding the baby. I always feel that because in London the normal life plan is not as doable that this is why everyone is so career focused, travels a lot, and lives a more Boujee lifestyle and feels that anything else is not living. I can say that I have fully adapted to this mind frame in the last 4 years. I notice how different I am now and how different the things are that I now want.
London has her now!
When I visit home and see the life I could of had I thank God every day that I wanted bigger, that I met someone who also wanted bigger, and can genuinely say that the lives I see at home are my worst nightmare but more importantly it’s a life I can have whenever I want it and whenever I decide to have it – all it will take is a plane ticket. Which no offence to anyone but for me a life that can be had by just buying a plane ticket is not a life I want at all and just think that I can live this life here in this amazing city with everything I could want and every opportunity possible for the next 25 years but can STILL decide after that if it’s time to move back and we could live the same life that everyone else has been living all that time by simply returning home on a flight. It does not mean I think my life is better or I am too good to just have a small town life it just means it’s not for me and that I would be so miserable living that way so have avoided it entirely.
So for everyone that asks everyone who moved to London - would you move back home soon? The polite “maybe one day” answer is not the real answer. The real answer is a bunch of questions and those questions are- Move home to what? To see the same people every day? To listen to the same stories, I’ve been hearing for 30 years? To do the same thing day in and day out? To have the exact same life as everyone else? To the highlight and only break from that life is a hen do or girls weekend in Kilkenny? How could I possibly give up this city and this life for that?
I love where I have come from and I am beyond proud of my roots and heritage but just because I came from Ireland doesn’t mean I have to stay there, and to me Ireland will always be home which to me means the door doesn’t have a lock and if it does then I have a key that I can use whenever I want to come back. So no offence to the people who chose to stay on the island but for me it was never enough and I’d rather be a Boujee janitor and have a shit tonne of keys that I can use. Why have just one when you can have them all?!
Stay Boujee Wherever You End Up xx