It was Brexit and it was cold. The air was humid and the people of London on edge as flyers came from everywhere asking us to sign England back into the EU. Sadly I was only a convict from Australia and had no power in such a situation. Quickly the gazes passed onto someone more useful and I was released into the passing crowd.
Such was my introduction to England. I was expecting tea cozies and scones but what I found was a cultural hub and universe of identities. It was fantastic in every way and yet darkened by the political events at the time. The at times hard-shouldered atmosphere I felt in London was probably much a result of the weather – both literal and political. The people were damaged; saddened by the betrayal they felt from both their own people and government alike. This was the hub that voted stay, an island in the broader network of England that largely believed otherwise.
But there were good times to be had – and on my birthday, the 23rd which was, yes, the same day as Brexit – with mixed views of shock and pity that a birthday was clouded by the helplessness felt by those many and far flung people I met, we were showered with stories, opinions and histories. This was truly something – this was the London I came to see. The stories flowed, the tea was hot – and yes, there were scones. It was o-so-divine, though tainted by the heavy heart felt by those I knew who were non-English and living/loving London. It was with a heavy heart that I left – feeling as though I had just found something beautiful and knowing the nostalgia already felt by my non-UK friends I left on departure.
LONDON June 2016