How did I get here?

So this is the story of how I ended up living in London...

People are often surprised when I reveal my Midlands roots. I am constantly mistaken for a Southerner. On occasion people have refused to believe I have not been a London citizen all my life (not bad for an Accidental Londoner, eh?). I'm not sure why. Maybe it's the distinctly non-Midlands accent I have, honed by boarding school. Maybe it's my obsessive knowledge of London bus-routes. Maybe it's my furious loathing of tourists who disrupt my morning commute.

Once people are convinced I wasn't born here, I get asked the same question: "So, why did you move to London?".  To which the honest answer is, well, I didn't really mean to. When I left university I was adamant that I'd never live in London. The city just didn't appeal to me. It didn't have the buzz and excitement of Paris or New York (let alone the glamour), it was grey and dirty, and full of people who did not look happy to be there. Yet after two months of temping for a local council department in Staffordshire I was climbing the walls. I had a two week internship lined up with a charity in London to look forward to however, so I answered phones and input data until the time came for me to head down to the city. 

Within days of being down here in London I was thoroughly enjoying myself. The internship was fun, and I never had to be in the office before 10am. I had friends here who were all too keen to help me spend my weekly lunch and travel stipend on dancing and margaritas. I had a kind Accidental relation who didn't seem to mind me living in her spare room. I had freedom and London's wealth of entertainment at my feet. The internship was extended a week more, then another and another. When I finally returned to Staffordshire a couple of months later I suddenly wanted to return to London. 

Together with a university friend who was trapped in similar local government office purgatory in Sussex (she administrated yellow lines being painted on roads, I dealt with the crazies at Social Services), I hatched a plan.  Loads of our friends had done it, it couldn't be that hard. Right? We would move to London, find a flat and jobs. And so we did just that. Shuffling from sofa to spare room, between our nearest and dearest, we met with pushy recruitment consultants, attended interviews for a myriad of crazy jobs, picked the least horrendous-sounding ones and signed on the dotted line. We were employed, now we needed a house. House-hunting, we discovered, was far more stressful and tough than job-hunting.  (My jaundiced experience on the subject was captured in one of my earlier posts. Bottom line: estate agents are loathsome, and in London prices are high and flats are microscopic.)  

After trawling the dregs of the January flat rental market for five weeks, and recruiting another potential housemate on our search, we did find a lovely place to call home for our first years in London. We learnt to commute across the city, and curse TfL. We learnt the satisfaction of the first post-work drink, and the misery of the office hangover the next morning. We made new friends, and dodged old ones we were less keen to bump into on the bus in the mornings. We discovered the best places to shop and eat and explore. We began the process of becoming Londoners.
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