Tuesday, January 04, 2005Happy New Year!
2004 saw a great deal of things change and happen for abstract boy. There was (and still is) love, adventure, travel, academic success, experiences and events that would inevitably affect my outlook. For the most part, it was positive – as can be clearly seen from the archives on here and all the photos on Abstractboy.co.uk. But several negative things happened which tainted what was otherwise a vintage year. Abstract boy was a victim of aggravated (homophobic) assault on the 29 night bus in London in August – an awful night which finished in the Whittington General Hospital in Archway with four stitches in my mouth. A second annoyance was a burglary at our Holloway palace in mid-December, where abstract boy’s laptop and digital camera were stolen, hence the lack of updates recently. Never having been the victim of violent crime or robbery before, I was rarely concerned about the risk of being assaulted or robbed. I’ve hardly known either to have happened to anyone, especially not in the cushy Edinburgh area in which most of my friends and I grew up. Neither did I feel at risk when living off the Tottenham Court Road in Halls of Residence last academic year, despite being surrounded by Fitzrovia brothels and degenerates.
It feels like the Honeymoon Period with London is over, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It happens with all loving relationships; at first you are idealistic and immersed in a sense of excitement and lust and then reality kicks in, you see the imperfections in your loved one, but battle on nonetheless because there is still love there and thus a reason to carry on. The experiences have made me more aware of the desperate poverty and urban apathy that is everywhere in London, although it is so easy not to see it if it so pleases. People come to London in search of something or to escape something, or both. To people who want to move there, it symbolises hope – whether they are Turkish, Scottish, Ghanaian, or Portuguese, there is the lure of prosperity, the big city lights, the metropolis, something bigger and brighter. The reality is often as far from the dream as is imaginable. The rents are extortionate; the path to wealth and success is steep and almost unfathomable if you don’t have the right experiences or the best command of English, so it is no surprise that the daytime streets and the night busses are full of people who have no hope, no money and no idea what they are doing and why they are doing it. Vicious cycles of poverty continue and further ensue and people turn to drugs and crime. You only have to take the 253 past Finsbury Park to see – Seven Sisters, Tottenham, Stamford Hill, Clapton. But it’s better to be aware, because to be aware leads to an understanding of what it is to have not had the same blissful opportunities that I have had and consequently to be understanding with those whose situation leads to crime. It would be easy to go through life in London bearing grudges and harbouring fears, but to do so would ruin your enjoyment of what is still exciting about London. The lessons I’ve learnt this year are to be genuinely sympathetic to those who aren’t as fortunate, but to value and respect every profession because they are all essential for society. And lastly, not to let the negative experiences taint your enjoyment of life.
It was, however, lovely to go back to Edinburgh for the festive season. As much as I do love London and do my best not to let my negative experiences get me down, a break is always good. Edinburgh is a city I know I’ll never fall out of love with – its unique setting among the seven hills and its Victorian grace is inimitable. The sight of the fireworks being set off from all seven of the hills as 2005 was welcomed in was simply awesome. 2005 will bring even more changes, including moving to Berlin for a year in September, which will bring a whole other world of things to blog about. Thank you to everyone who reads this. I hope you enjoy it as much I enjoy writing it.