Tim Wheatley writes an exclusive piece for our readers about what it’s like living in London at the moment and shares his Top Ten songs for 2020 so far..
Two years ago, I packed up my home in Los Angeles, and crossed the Atlantic bound for London. And whether or not I was ready to leave the States – I’m glad I did.
The picture I used to paint in my mind when I thought of London was always, raincoats, double-decker buses and ever-grey skies. But what I’ve learned in my time here, is that England is the guardian of a secret. And whilst I’m reluctant to tell you, it’s time to pull back the curtain. England, contrary to popular belief has a summer to envy. A summer complete with long days, hot nights, sunburn and old school English debauchery. But its arrival has coincided with a deadly global pandemic. Which has now forced upon the fine people of England to make a choice between their ‘summer’ or their ‘second wave’. But the lure of the summer solstice is proving to be a death-dealing temptress.
I can only imagine the folks back home currently rolling your eyes as I place the sight of the sun on a pedestal, but as Australians, we deem reveling in the sunshine a ‘part of life’. But here in England, it’s a celebration after serving out the last eight months in the fucking dark.
East London at the moment appears to be ground zero for the reckless souls. You can’t walk twenty feet down a main road before you’re offered another pint (or an Aperol Spritz if you prefer). The parks are full, the people are out, the music is loud and the drinks have been flowing long before I arrived. It’s a Tuesday afternoon in London Fields. And while the most part of London is taking a breath and recuperating, the parks are working harder than ever, resembling festivals rather than social distancing.
For a city so well versed in moving its people, whether it be on the underground, trains, buses or sneaker-clad citizens on the march, bringing the city to a halt proved to be harder than they thought. At no stage did anyone panic, but maybe that was the problem. It was more like a ‘peaceful resignation’ that everything would be different. At least for a little while anyway. But if you were new to the city and or at all lonely before this pandemic hit London – my bet is you’re reading this from back in Australia. And rightfully so, London isn’t one of those cities that opens its arms for you upon arrival. Actually, it barely extends a hand to shake. Which makes it pretty easy to wave goodbye to.
But I’m not ready to bid adieu to this old city. Far from it. I want to see either how this ends, or witness what rises from the ashes of this grand old town. So, until such time, I’ll sit here at my window overlooking what was once a bustling flower market, listen to music, write my songs, miss my family, wear my mask and lay low.