My last year in London

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My last year in London

At the office we’ve been editing some TV interviews I did 20 years ago, when I was a young mum in London, and new author of one of the first books about green living. My daughter Rachel, who is graduating from college, was then a chubby newborn who modeled cloth nappies for my interviews and photo shoots. I asked whether she minded our posting the clips on YouTube. “If you don’t mind being laughed at,” she said. It’s my English accent she finds most ridiculous, but she says the hair and clothes are terribletoo.

And she’s right, but I still think it’ll be fun to have some historic clips on my company’s Sustainability Project website. Here’s a bit about that last year in London:

Spring flowers were early, but by March the mornings were frosty again and the days dark and damp. “Funny weather, innit?” said the telephone operator one day, “I think it must be that ozone you keep hearing about.” When the sun did emerge, it shocked me after the long dark weeks. It showed up the circles under my eyes and the stains on the children’s clothes. I tried to relish my new life and its many possibilities. But I had too little money to be sanguine about any of my choices working out smoothly, and I felt bereft of some of the things I had given my heart to for almost 10 years. When I was 20, the view from Waterloo Bridge – east to St Paul’s and the City of London, west to Westminster and the Houses of Parliment – had choked me with joy. Now I couldn’t see its beauties. I knew I should enjoy it, since once we left I would only ever be in London as a visitor, but I couldn’t. It wasn’t just that trips to museums with two small children were no fun, what with trips to the restroom and trying to keep them quiet on the bus. I felt uncomfortable going out alone in the evening, anxious about the walk back up the Grove. My neighbors were wonderful – we could drop in, and they would ply us with tea, and even feed us. One friend who had two children and two foster children used to dish up mounds of fish fingers and chips and peas – all from the freezer – and Tom would wolf down more than it seemed possible for a 4-year-old to eat. I worried more that people would think I wasn’t feeding them than about the fact that they seemed to love the kind of food they never got at home.

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