On the rainy days, I really love the island. It is when the mist moves in that the muses move with them. And while the streets are wet and the skies overcast – it is perfectly easy to walk around, you do not get soaked.
And then there are the rows of houses – the self same builds that make England from the air look like no place else on earth. And I love the streets and the curves and the styles. Within the understated and pragmatic uniformity waits the best of all though…
Because in each of those homes is someone as different as you’re ever likely to meet.
Zoom in. You see that family there? Hard-drinking dad and soccer playing sons, a mom that cuts coupons and loves Coronation Street. Labour voters the lot of them, as if the vote was part of the family tree, or the memories of great grandfathers on coal mines.
Move along and there’s the crazy old woman with the red hair, whose love of theatre and the arts emanates from here even when she takes her poodle down to the library.
Move along and it’s Thevashan and his family. They escaped Uganda – so they also know things others don’t – and the mom and dad work like animals in the shop and restaurant as those kids of theirs shine.
There the young married couple – she’s cheating on him and will break down his heart some time real soon – I hope there’s someone there when he falls.
Then the intense young gay man volunteering for the party reading Thatcher and Adam Smith – todays true contrarian and the real rebel of the age – an actual conservative.
There the pair of ladies who spend their days talking over endless cups of tea and who get to dress up and take the bus as an adventure to the Church of England once a week.
There a guy that looks as rough as a killer from central casting, tattoos and football jersey – but who has a heart of gold.
There a flock of track suit twinks – the sexual tension running like an exposed earth wire – the after shave hanging around them like a cloud – the banter far more certain than the little hearts feel.
There the beautiful couple and their twins, who moved here from London and won’t look back.
Zoom out and tell me they are uniform and bland…
Zoom out some more.
See that? Take it in. I love it with everything in my heart.