Are the streets of London really paved with gold? When I moved to the big smoke seven years ago I was full of expectation, with dreams to rival Dick Whittington’s.
The reality? Perhaps the streets of the City are where fortunes are found, but the rest of capital is more likely to bleed you dry than bolster your bank account (and on a Friday night you’ll find the streets of the City are paved with vomit, not cash money).
I wanted to write this piece because I’m often told my life looks ‘glamorous’. And it can be; working in Fashion PR, dabbling in a little blogging on the side, I enjoy the occasional trappings of the industry, namely Prosecco-fuelled parties. Only last month I found myself at a swanky salon launch sharing the same air space as David Gandy, questioning how I’d made the guest list.
But please don’t let my social media accounts mislead you into thinking everything down here is all bright lights and big shots. In truth, I’m as envious of your life as you might be of my Instagram-filtered reality.
Outfit details: Trench coat: Baukjen | Straight leg jeans: Topshop [these jeans are the bomb!]| T-shirt: borrowed from my housemate, thanks Elise! | Shoes: c/o Next [old] shop similar | Bag: HM | Sunglasses: Karen Walker
You see, the life stage I find myself approaching at the grand age of 29 is a most curious one, and one that is symptomatic of this city. Whilst my friends dwelling elsewhere are progressing nicely with their lives, I - and many of my friends down south are living the ‘London Limbo’.
Stuck in no man’s land, somewhere between student life and adulthood, we’re a generation of SADULTS (no longer students, not quite responsible adults). Because only in this city will you find the smartest, most ambitious bright young things roughing it in flat shares that bear remarkable resemblance to student halls. For six years I inhabited a pokey bedsit in the attic of Georgian townhouse. In summer, it was unbearably hot. In winter the walls cultivated noxious mould. And all year round I fought a brave battle come 7am to use the communal showers. Add into the mix my ex-boyfriend living downstairs (seriously – this was sitcom-worthy stuff) and there you have the recipe for rental discontent.
Putting down roots in London is nigh-on-impossible. Enough has been written about the housing crisis that it will come as no surprise to learn I can’t afford to buy. Hell, I can barely afford to rent.
The SADULT syndrome is further perpetuated by our work hard, play hard culture. Twelve hour days bookended by hour-long commutes are commonplace in this city and my working weeks are powered by a combination of caffeine, adrenaline and Haribo. Come Friday I’m wired like a circuit board and the only release for this pent-up tension is a Prosecco-fuelled one.
Deep down I think the majority of SADULTS fantasise about settling down, living the 2.4-children-societal-norm. But of course we’re all too goddamn busy to date, (“you want to go for casual drink? Sure! The next available window is in May”) so the chances of this happening are slimmer than Trump seeing out his presidency term.
As I watch my friends outside of London buy their houses, put a ring on it, reproduce and embark on exotic trips to far flung destinations, I can’t help but question if my pursuit of career in the capital is worth the sacrifices.
But there really is nowhere like London. There’s no replicating the exhilaration I feel walking across Waterloo Bridge at sunset, gazing over landmarks twinkling in the failing light. No replicating the fun of playing spot-the-celeb at a flashy fashion party or the intoxicating feeling that anything is possible in this city. And that’s why, right now, life outside of SW1 is unfathomable. Simultaneously delivering the highest of highs and the lowest of lows – London is a drug and I’m well and truly addicted.
Photos: Natasha Marshall
Photos: Natasha Marshall