Now that we live in Brussels in my parents place I have access to my dads library which is amazing. He has a great range of books and I am trying a few things I might otherwise never have read which is great.
I have started with ‘Londoners’ from my dads shelf. As a born and raised Londoner who left home a few years back and still can’t face the idea of going back I was intrigued by this book. The cover says it all really
‘The Days and Nights of London as Told by Those Who Love It, Hate It, Live It, Long for It, Have Left It and Everything Inbetween.
As someone who left but falls bang slap in the middle of love and hate with my home city this book was a great read. I think if I had never left I would have been annoyed by some of the views people hold on my fellow Londoners. There are a great deal of stereotypes that I previously resented but now have had to accept are true. Why don’t we speak to each other? What’s the fear of smiling at a stranger? Also must we speak so fast? My poor colleagues for whom English is a second language said ‘luckily you annunciate which helps’. Five years away and still I speak like I just drank a litre of coffee, ironic as I don’t touch the stuff! It’s also true that we think we come from the best place in the UK and are a tad dismissive of the rest of the country. The parts I loved most of these books were the hidden parts of London that showed the good of the city, especailly the tale of the lost and found at the train station – it will restore your faith in humanity.
For me I love London for the people, nothing will ever take the place of those old friendships that I slip back into like a favourite pair of shoes. The city itself may be the footwear equivalent of having to run a marathon in stilettos but the friends make it feel like there will always be a sofa and slippers ready to recover with. For those friends who have always dropped everything to see me – you’re my London and I love you far more than I could ever love a place.
My move to Brussels pushed me to read ‘Merde in Europe’ by Stephen Clarke. Hilariously written and easy to read I finished it in two days (the commute on the metro has massively increased my ability to finish books!) It was great realising how many of the places I know and recognise – my local metro station even gets a mention. Having only been here a few weeks it’s great to realise how at home I feel here. I even felt defensive when one of the characters was rude about the food…Belgian cuisine is in fact brilliant and the produce in their supermarkets is unbelievable. Our little local carrefour is full of great stuff that doesn’t cost the earth! Straciatella yoghurt is a game changer btw! I now want to read the rest of his books as I find his style amusing and engaging.
Having finished that I just started ‘Back Story’ by David Mitchell (the comedian, not the author of Cloud Atlas as he is quick to point out!) It’s very funny so far and enjoyable to read (the chapters are the perfect length for my commute which shouldn’t be a criteria but does mean I can really enjoy it without having to stop mid paragraph. There is something charmingly endearing about David Mitchell, and as Bond will tell you – being endearing is a huge character plus in my book. That endearing and charming self deprecating way he has comes across brilliantly in this memoir. I am only a couple of chapters in and already I can’t wait to eat some more…and on that note, back to my book I go.