I had a bit of an epiphany at 5:30am. This was unusual for two reasons, firstly because I don’t normally have epiphanies, I normally sidle up to an idea and casually buy it a drink, and secondly I was voluntarily awake at 5:30am which is unheard of. The epiphany was this: London makes you work hard to be happy.
The reason I was conscious at 5:30am before work on a Wednesday was for brunch. Some may quibble that brunch before the sun has risen is not brunch, but fuck you I am a hobbit and if I call it brunch…its brunch. A friend was leaving London and wanted to go to Duck and Waffle before she left, and at a weeks notice the only booking we could get was at sparrows fart o’clock. We decided to go for it, I mean we were drunk so of course we were up for it at the time.
The day came and I think we were cursing the very name of Duck and Waffle. Tired, groggy and awake before the tube was running this seemed like literally worst idea that anyone had ever had ever. Who in their right mind would wake up three hours early to go to a restaurant – particularly when its still dark out? After the traumatic commute (Londoners are extra weird that early in the morning) we arrived at Duck and Waffle and took the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory lift up to the 40th floor. In that short lift journey everything became amazing.
All of a sudden London was the city you see in the movies. We drank coffee as we watched over London at night. The lights below making it seem like the city was full of possibilities. We ate the namesake dish as the sky started to blush with light. By the time we moved to the bar for champagne London had given us a magical sunrise.
Then the epiphany happened.
This brunch has made me almost speechless with love for London, it just felt so special, but I never would have experienced it if I hadn’t got up at an ungodly hour.
This is exactly what London is like. There are almost limitless incredible experiences to be had, but you have to go out and grab them. Generally these amazing things either require you to be super organised, will mean you have to scrimp and save, find new reserves of courage or just be absolutely exhausting. But they are there and can make you feel like all the shitty and hard bits of London life are worth it.
The danger is that if you don’t make the effort with London it will suck. The far easier option for me would have been to say no to the insane early booking and just not go, or go to a local cafe – but then I would have missed out on seeing London at its best.
This next level London is particularly hard to unlock when you are a baby expat and don’t have any friends here yet. Since you don’t know anyone the easiest option is to sit at home and watch tv – easy but it means you are missing out on your life. So you have two options, grow some balls and see London by yourself or grow some balls and go outside your comfort zone by asking strangers along with you. Either way balls are required.
London makes you work dam hard to find happiness. If you take the easy option you will miss out on the incredible, the magical and the taste of champagne before sunrise. Fuck the easy, it’s time to find the London you see in the movies.