After we left our Randolph Avenue flat, we were desperate to stay in Maida Vale. It isn’t the best place in London, just as any single person isn’t the best person in the world.
No. Just like a person, every nook of London has something charming and warm, someplace worth nuzzling. If you’ve made that place your own, you get attached, no matter how gritty or posh.
Maida Vale is our local.
It’s where our halal, Soloman Supermarket, is.
It’s where, at the Starbucks, I wrote two books.
It’s where the recreation ground is, the one where I played tennis and made friends with Fiona.
It’s where Leslie and his dog Thomas walk everyday, and we stop and chat.
It’s where Frances and I found each other.
It’s where we found another Canadian Colin, whom we like very much.
It’s where Tim and Peter lived on Elgin, and cooked for us, before they got married and moved to the country (not in that order).
It’s where we lived, practically, with Soren for a year, who loved the Cubs and Wisconsin and one very long hallway and who helped us moved twice, and called Trivial Pursuit: “T.P.”
It’s where our London friends are, on Lauderdale, Essendine, Castellain, and Widley Roads, and Sutherland Avenue, Warrington Crescent.
It’s where we met Penny, on the first day, who got me the job at the Warrington.
It’s where I found my feet, and learned to appreciate a cloudy sky.
It’s where we lost a baby, and Colin lost a job, and where we drank with our neighbours, who all walked home the day the bombs exploded.
It’s where bowling became something done on a green,and al fresco parties were held on the rooftoop.
It’s where foxes were our neighbours and horses trotted past our morning windows.
It’s where we discovered how the question “You alright, mate?” could be a greeting.
It’s where we drank too much and ate many packets of crisps for supper.
Maida Vale is our local. No blue plaques to mark the places where we’ve been. Too busy, too many others to remember and deal with and forget again.
Anyway, we’ll know we’ve been here.