What’s your theme tune? The soundtrack to my life…
“Look after yourself. London will eat you up if you’re not careful”.. was the (wise) parting words of advice my flatmate gave me as we left our beautiful little period flat in Winchester. How right he was. It nearly has. Several times.
Years before, a song came into my life that changed it somewhat. Silly as it seems to live your life according to song. But as soon as I heard it, it struck a chord. Simple words of wisdom. Things I would have liked my mother to have taught me.. things I will definitely teach my children. One line in particular has stuck with me. “Do one thing every day that scares you”. It’s emblazoned on my heart. In hindsight it’s probably led me the long way around in life.. but definitely the most beautiful, scenic route, where every day is an adventure and all things are possible. Impulsive and perhaps wreckless on occasions. But that line gave me my life back after a long bout of depression, led me to London, landed me my job and introduced me to some of the most beautiful friends and people I have ever met. Thank you, Baz Luhrmann and “Everybody’s free to wear sunscreen”.
As a person who lives her life according to the lyrics to a song, and with lines from another song etched firmly on my back, it seems only logical that as soon as I hit Clapham I would develop this odd coping mechanism to get me through both the tough times and oddities that London threw up. Music. Not just any old music. No gushy love songs to wallow in the heartbreaks. None of that god awful “minimal house”. EPIC MUSIC. The kind that transforms a mood or situation.. or turns the ordinary into comedy gold. (Well, in my mind).
Day one, terrified of the tubes at rush hour, suffering slightly from anxiety attacks and claustrophobia, I first turned to India Jones. Downloading the theme tune to my iPod was a god send. Every journey became an adventure. Smile plastered firmly on my face I tamed every beast of the London Transport System. Standing packed, nay squashed in the middle of a train as more and more people stepped on at each stop and temperature rose and the air got thinner.. was akin to Indiana being trapped in a booby-trapped ancient tomb where the walls are closing in (in my mind). Leaping onto the tube before the doors snap shut behind me was likened to the tomb door coming down behind me (in my mind). Ocassionally, I would turn around to grab my imaginary hat before the door sealed behind me. Trapped. No going back. But entertaining – I mean, Indiana always comes out on top right?
Anyone who was facebook friends with me in that first month would vouch that transport was such a novelty and conquering it became my daily delight. Even, when I had my first horrendous date. Stuck in a part of London I barely knew, tubes shut, I’d tried to get away earlier, but he just wasn’t getting the hint. As he leant in to try and kiss me, a flash of red out of the corner of my eye saved me from an unwanted face sucking.. I didn’t even say goodbye.. I leapt on the back of the bus, like Indie would on the back of a speeding locomotive, theme tune blearing in my head. Safety!! However, I’d never ridden a bus before. Where is the oyster reader at the back of a bus?!! Fortunately the driver was a friendly chap, who let me ride up front, giving me the low-down on Bus-taming ettiquette. “What? You mean you don’t have to touch OUT again when you get off the bus??”
Newly single I was also new to dating. And there are so many ways to do it in London!! Speed dating, internet dating, facebook dating, old fashioned dating. Whilst everyone I knew was falling apart with nerves on first dates, I was a scene of composure. I have “Montegue’s and Capulets” (Romeo and Juliette) to thank for that, or as most Brits will know it.. the UK TV show “The Apprentice” themetune. Played in every episode, synonemous with Sir Alan Sugar’s famous ‘finger point’ over the boardroom table and “You’re Fired!” catch phrase. I soon learned if you play this on your iPod on the way to the date, right the way up to the bar, there’s no way you can walk into the bar without your chest out and your shoulders back.. or a cheeky smile on your face that only you understand. I can safely say I’ve played this on every first date.
9 times out of 10 though, I’ve danced my way out of the door of a date with my favourite man in tow. No not the date – Michael Buble. “I just haven’t met you yet” says it all – I believe in silver linings.
Montegues and Capulets also came in handy for interviews (though, never wear your iPod into the building). And eventually when I landed my first job in the ‘Square Mile’ at an investment bank in the city. Although I’m pretty sure for the first 6 months I was very close to hearing the phrase “You’re Fired!!” it helped none the less. On particularly busy days, or the days that I walk into the city the mornings, I still play that song. Nothing will put a smile on your face like listening to that song and watching the hundreds of pin-striped clad, briefcase laden bankers swarming the streets. Comedy gold.
I struggle a little to get to sleep in London. So much ticking over in my head when I get to bed, which obviously means I struggle to get up in the mornings. Being woken to the harp chords of the Jamie XX & Florence + the Machine remix is a beautiful way to start the day. But mostly I lay there singing Bruno Mars “The Lazy Song” in my head, wiggling my feet, whistles and all.. I do like to imagine 5 monkey’s dancing next to me as I bop around my room getting dressed. One day, I will have real ones.
When I do manage to get up early, however, I will walk to work, from Chiswick, all 8 miles (2 hours of it). It’s an epic journey, taking in Royal Crescent (my favourite ‘Crescent’ of all time), Notting Hill, Hyde Park, Marble Arch, Selfridges, Holborn, Smithfields Market.. But there’s something very eerie about Oxford Street at 6.30 in the morning. It’s the most beautiful kind of eerie I have ever set eyes on. One of London’s busiest streets by day, where you will literally get mowed down if you dawdle too long.. is empty. Quiet.. With the sun just coming up it feels a lot like a disaster movie. Serene and peaceful, as if every other person has been wiped out.. or something big is about to happen. At this point I like to flick over to the 28 days later theme song. John Murphy’s “In a Heartbeat” and float along the street, ever the watchful eye for a stray Zombie.
When walking around the iconic landmarks of London, I always feel so tiny (well.. I kinda am). I get quite emotional about Tower Bridge for some reason, actually any bridge. Maybe it’s the river. Definitely Albert Bridge. OK It’s safe to say I like bridges. But I always feel very humble. Very lucky to be part of this city. A little piece of it’s living history, that will probably never be remembered once I am gone, but was definitely a piece of it’s fabric whilst my time was here. So bridges need a different theme tune. Dramatic. Emotional perhaps. Operatic maybe? Waterloo bridge always got the Gladiator theme tune “now we are free” (my all time favourite movie) as I walked across it. As I looked out onto the water, especially in the summer. Little warrior woman taking on London, I would smirk to myself.. restraining the urge to shout to the passers by “ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED??”
It’s rained for a good 8 months in London I reckon. I’ve never seen anything like it. The 6 mile walk from Clapham culminates in a walk over London Bridge, with views over Tower Bridge. You can’t beat Lana Del Ray’s “Born to die” in a situation like this. No matter whether I’ve run or walked the 6 miles. I always slow down as I hit the bridge, savour the view I’ve seen so many times before. The rain lashing down, wind threatening to pick me up, hair sodden and matted, whipping my face.. it just makes Lana all the sweeter and the mood more atmospheric. I can’t think of any other situation where the rain feels so good. On a rare day where the sun is shining and the light is bouncing off the glass buildings along the Thames, Chase and Status “Blind Faith” is just about epic enough to make me grin from ear to ear.
Along with the eclectic music tastes, dancing, public transport, bridges of London.. Running is another big part of my life here in the capital – therefore a good Ballad is required. Seems like an odd choice of running song right? Yes.. until you hit “the wall”. This is where I switch down Tiesto’s & Busta’s “Catchem/Hypnotised” (great for interval training).. and flick over to James Arthur’s X factor winning song “Impossible” – Really! There’s a pain in his voice that gives me goose bumps (and err.. stuff), and when I’ve hit the wall, in pain and feel like I’ve got nothing else to give, I close my eyes and sing along.. I can often be seen pounding the streets of London, face contorted as if tortured with emotion as I belt out this song; fists clenched, gesticulating wildly to words as if performing at (a very bad and sweaty) Karaoke, fists slamming down at that all important key-change. OK, it’s safe to say, I get very into it, but I get past the wall.
After all that running (and the James Arthur hotness) you can’t really get into a hot bath without ‘getting it on’ with Marvin Gaye. Eeee! He’s a smoothie.
So that’s the soundtrack to my life. There’s only one more area to cover. ‘Vino- o’clock’. Basically, when I’m not doing any of the above, you’ll probably find me walking down the street like this, along my own imaginary soul-train, giving passer-by’s the pistol fingers. In fact, if you ever wanted an insight into what’s going on in my head at any given moment, I would fancy it would look just like this.