I am writing this blog on a train on the way back to the Big Smoke following a few days mini-break in Cornwall, Mevagissey to be exact. As usual I have found the green hues, sea air and laid-back friendly locals a tonic to my tattered nerves and eye bags, a bi-product of 5 years spent running my own business in London, selling vintage clothing to be exact.
I am a country girl at heart and I spent my childhood in the fields of Oxfordshire. Being an only child meant that creativity an essential part of entertaining myself. I was always inspired to write, draw, paint, sculpt or invent, something which spurred me on to art college aged 20. I left the countryside for Brighton a year later where I went to University and although somewhat distracted by the party lifestyle, I still found the space and time to be creative.
A decade on I have been a Londoner for 5 years and most days I absolutely love it. I honestly don’t know where else in the country I would be able to live and do the job I do and earn a decent living from it. All my best pals are here and although it’s been a struggle at times, I have managed to carve out a nice little life for myself.
As a creative, London calls you. It’s the centre of the Universe in which you need to cut your teeth and make your mark. It offers the biggest names, the best galleries, the hottest tickets, the fastest life and the juiciest pay packets.
But there is a cost to living in London and that’s more than just the rent which equates to most people’s entire monthly pay packets in other parts of the country. In the last 5 years I don’t think I have done one thing creatively, just for the pure joy of it. I don’t draw or paint anymore, I don’t write poems or diaries. All my energy is sucked away by work and London life. There is very little room to breathe. I count myself lucky that I am able to be creative and express myself through my work, so perhaps all the energy is just spent there but just for once it would be nice to get home and pick up a paintbrush, instead of collapsing on the sofa following another high-stress caffeine-fuelled battle with the city.
What I am starting to wonder is if London is good for the soul? Sometimes I catch myself acting like an impatient, impersonal Londoner, forever in a hurry because time is money and why can’t that old man get a move on at the cash point? I walk quickly, eyes down, tutting at people who suddenly stop in front of me to take a picture. Being around the plump and happy rosy-cheeked folk or Cornwall for the last few days has made me question a few things. Most of them are pretty poor, but they are a great deal more cheerful than the average person found riding the 149 bus at 7.30am.
I was chatting with a few friends the other day about how lazy we have all become. Well, it’s not really lethargy it’s more exhaustion which stops us from travelling anywhere outside of the geographical line between work and home. Getting more than one bus or tube anywhere seems like an ordeal most of the time, usually because it is. We are forever Hackney-bound, and if we get an invitation south of the river, there is a slim chance we will make the pilgrimage.
Maybe we have become spoilt, we know we can find a pal, a decent pizza and real ale just a stones throw away from wherever we may happen to be, and we can read about new exhibitions in Time Out, without having to make the effort to travel to them when it’s raining and the tube strike is on.
In Brighton, keeping up was easy and fun. It is a manageable-sized city in which you are always informed of forthcoming gigs and exhibitions and you can be anywhere within a 15 minute bike ride. London however, requires more work and endurance. Events pass you by, touring bands come and go without you even noticing.
I for one am getting fed up with not experiencing anywhere near enough of what London has to offer and I only really have myself to get agitated with.
So what is the solution? Cut my losses, move back to the countryside for a simpler life and turn to my sketchbook again to combat the boredom? Or become a commuter, with the best of both worlds, at the mercy of overpriced train travel on over crowed trains? Or perhaps try and find a little breathing space within the city and perhaps stop worrying about £££ all the live-long day? I would much rather the latter, as I think that 30 is perhaps a little too young for retirement, but then it is also probably too young for a heart attack and/or nervous breakdown. Sooner or later, something will have to give.
Is anyone else out there suffering from similar dilemas? Does anyone find that London provides them with unending inspiration or like me, do you find it hard to summon your creativity on demand?