Aeolistic


By the river

(I stood and watched this coot for a minute as it struggled against the current)

Having acquired a new job (yay!), now comes the flat hunt. Inevitably, as I search for somewhere else to live, I become nostalgic for Richmond and all its prettiness. Richmond has treated me well for the past 6 months. It’s quaint and photogenic. It was always going to be a difficult transition for a girl from Croydon to move to Richmond, but it has been much better than it could have been. I guess my accent – honed through seven reluctant years at a private school – helps me to blend in, and I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to live in such a beautiful area.

The real difficulty I have living here is the microcosmic nature of it all. The wealthy and the middle class have found a haven in Richmond, and here they do not have to confront the real struggles that exist within London. There are hardly any homeless people to be seen here. The streets are impeccably clean. The crime rate is one of the lowest across the country. Left-leaning as I am, I am always taken aback as I walk through Richmond and Petersham on my way home by the saturation of front gardens with placards emblazoned with Zac Goldsmith’s face. These houses vote Conservative. These houses want to safeguard their wealth and protect the interests of the island. It’s a point of view I’ve never been able to understand, no matter how hard I try.

I love to look outwards. I love meeting new people and learning things about them. I love experiencing new things and trying to gain new perspectives. I’ve never been a part of one particular group over another; I have always been a part of different groups simultaneously. Perhaps, because of this, I have never felt threatened in the same way. Even if some of my interests are not being catered for, others inevitably are. My identity is shaped by a variety of factors: being a Londoner, being a child of first generation immigrants, being of mixed race, being British, being Irish, being Indonesian, being European, being Asian, being a woman, being a young person, coming from a deprived area, going to school in a rich area, being a university graduate, being a native English speaker, being bilingual, coming from a left-leaning family, being supported by the welfare state during my childhood.

Having these (sometimes conflicting) factors to consider means I don’t need to imagine things from the perspective of others. I, and many like me, see things from a range of different perspectives and we are constantly code-switching. I have made such a transition from my childhood that I have no tradition to safeguard – my life is changing all the time, though the roots of it never change. I have no island to protect because my island is constantly expanding – not just in an economic sense, but in a sense of an increasing wealth of experiences. With these expanding horizons, I find it difficult to understand those who are staunch in their commitment to conserving the status quo.

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