Friday, 7 November 2014

A City girl in Shoreditch

A City girl in Shoreditch

A few years ago my diary mainly consisted of birthday reminders and an occasional party. These days I navigate between my own errands, the kids’ appointments and school holidays, Mr Chateauneuf’s travel arrangements and the little matter of my two bosses.  Occasionally it gets crowded.
So imagine my delight when I come across an exciting entry - I almost forgot about -  jammed in-between a five way conference call and a waxing appointment. This is where the adventure begins.
The thing is, my schedule doesn’t leave any room for adventure and spontaneity. I work in the City, live in South London and spend most of my weekends in Lincolnshire. My geography is neatly connected by East Coast, FCC and Southern train lines; my life is run by a tightly packed diary in my iPhone and a strict routine.
My race against the clock begins in the morning – shower, getting dressed, hair, make-up and rush out of the door; I hop on the train where I battle against backlog of texts and emails. A day in the office features endless reports, meetings, infinite amount of filing, errands for the two bosses and gallons of tea and coffee. In the evenings I Skype with the boys; catch up with my friends, writing, laundry, ironing and whatever else I’m behind on.
So when one evening I turned off familiar Old Broad Street, aka where the City ends, and found myself trotting over the cobbled pavements of Shoreditch in my stilettos, I had to double check my diary to confirm if indeed I was in the correct location - I was. I have never been there before, but that was where my girlfriend chose to have her hen do.

A little turn right, just past Liverpool Street station, opened up a completely different world to me. This new world was full of vintage shops, markets and food stalls where the cooking was done mainly on a BBQ or an outdoor chimney type thing. There was graffiti everywhere, hair colours encompassing the whole spectrum of the rainbow and the smell of freshly cooked meat mixed with unmistakable hint of cannabis.
Even the crowd was different, more relaxed; people were dressed casually if a little eccentrically. I was fascinated by the new scene I was on. People in this world seemed friendly and happy; they were laughing and having fun. Nobody was rushing anywhere, the concept of a diary, or time for that matter, didn’t seem to exist. Even the air slowed down and relaxed here. 
I, on the other hand, was hyperventilating - my phone was showing only 20% of battery life and I was about to lose my connectivity, which at the time felt like losing air supply. My City outfit was suffocating me and killing my feet.
With my phone barely alive and my feet throbbing I decided to adopt ‘when in Shoreditch…’ attitude, ordered a drink at a bar, sat back and almost relaxed. As I was watching a guy wearing a ripped t-shirt and a brand new pair of green Converse, casually chatting to a girl next to him, I couldn’t help but wonder, when did my life become so busy? How did I let a little expensive device to run my life without allowing myself to actually live? When did I become so City?
My phone died half an hour later and I spent the last 17% of its life on taking photos of fabulous girls I was out with. It was a great night. We bowled and drank cocktails; we reminisced and ate deep fried food; we talked outfits and flights for the wedding.  And as a sign of any great night, the journey home night was a blur.
The following morning, hungover and clutching my travel mug with two precious shots of coffee, I got off the train and joined the sea of suits, polished shoes and laptop bags moving across London Bridge. It suddenly occurred to me there was nothing wrong with strict routine and tight schedules. I loved my life the way it was – busy and planned with the military precision. As long as I made time to escape to my own Shoreditch now and then where I could switch off and not think or wear City. I texted my friend immediately and made plans for that weekend.