London life

By | Category: Travel rumblings

I’d love to see you, but you live too far away says Kaye Holland

I was invited to a fabulous party last Friday  but on learning that it was in Ladywell, it took me all of five seconds to text back: “Already got something on – gutted to miss it though. Thanks for the invite!”

On Saturday night, my mate Niam urged me to help celebrate his birthday in W1 but I had an afternoon date at Vicarage Road to watch Watford beat Burnley, followed by tickets to a Great Gatsby extravaganza in SW8 late Saturday night and couldn’t face swinging by Stratford en-route.

And then on Sunday, an invitation arrived for afternoon tea – so far, so fab – in Greenwich. Grrrrrrr.

For while many of my mates are afflicted by FOMO – fear of missing out – or FOGO aka fear of going out (a condition exacerbated at this time of year), I suffer from FOP- a fear of postcodes.

Harrow? Huzzah – that’s my hood. West Hampstead, Wembley or Willesden Green? Absolutely. Central London – here’s looking at Soho etc? Sure: see you there. However ask me to check out Colliers Wood,  wander east to Bethnal Green or schlepp south to Battersea or Brixton and chances are you’ll be greeted with a flat “no”.

It’s not that I have anything against these particular postcodes. On the contrary, I feel more of a kinship with the aforementioned areas that I do with Harrow whose high street is plagued by Pound Shops and Primark.

But the idea of making more than three tube changes or being stuck on rail replacement buses when the Met line has malfunctioned (and the Met Line always has issues) in these artic weather conditions is enough to make me hunker down at home.

Often, as I watch Match of the Day while hoovering up a tub of Pringles in the warm, I think to myself: right now I’d be walking around Oval or getting on the underground at Oxford Circus or exiting at Wembley  and wasting money on Uber because I couldn’t stomach yet another nightmarishly long £1.50 bus ride home to Harrow on my own, circa 3am.

Over a glass of Prosecco, I’ll invariably put on my rose tinted glasses and wax lyrical about the years I spent living and working in Beijing, Buenos Aires, Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Grand Cayman where everyone lived within a 10-minute radius of each other meaning a Sunday brunch date didn’t necessitate three weeks of planning. (Note to non-Londoners: never ever ask a Londoner if they’re free to meet in the next fortnight. Londoners live by the three-week rule. Translation: we’re looking at least 21 days ahead when it comes to getting a date in the diary to catch up. We laugh about it but yup it can frustrate when your best mate isn’t available until April and your cousin, who you haven’t seen since Crimbo, advises “Easter”.)

Of course I’ll invite friends over to my humble abode but I don’t blame them when they decline or else accept, only to cry off on the day with a plaintive text: “Kaye, please don’t hate me but I just can’t face taking the Met line all the way out to zone five today”. I feel the same…

That being said there are a handful of people for whom I will fork out £15+ and travel by tube for 75 minutes, changing lines at least four times, and make an effort to see.

My mate Maz is one of them. Once upon a time we lived together in student digs off Edgware Road and I could see her whenever I wanted.  Then Maz moved to Arsenal (the right side of the river at least) before upping sticks to Oval, which I am not so au fait with but will make the effort to leave my postcode for.

But by and large Maz is the exception to the rule all of which means, don’t take it personally next time I decline dinner at yours. I like you, I do, and I am sure your Ottolenghi-esque menu would inspire me to raise my cooking game but here’s the rub: I just don’t do long distance London relationships.


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