Of late I’ve been thinking of London. One of my colleagues has just visited Europe, posting photos galore and making me homesick for Europe, where I lived for nine years. Six years in London, three years in Greece. I’ve been back in Perth now for 17 years, and looking back to me in this picture it feels like another life. But there is then and there is now and I am the bridge. The echoes of my life at 27 there are still calling through the years to myself now at nearly 52. I want to call back to my younger self, and let her know a few things.
English men are not going to “get” you
Here’s me in the picture at 27, on a weekend in London. My main companion that weekend was the television and the video hire shop. See, it’s too early even for DVDs. I remember telling a colleague I’d watched four movies over the weekend. They were all quite good movies actually as I recall although what they were is lost now to the mists of time. He looked at me pityingly and told me to get a life. He was right, goddammit. But there I was, lost in self-pity. I wanted to be in a relationship so much that I pushed away most potential lovers.
For goodness sake, discover charity shops
Living in London was a constant exercise is dodging poverty, and I actually had a nice government job. Admittedly, not a particularly well-paying government job, but steady, nonetheless. The salary came (monthly!) and was eked out until the next pay day. It always seemed to be pasta or lentils day. So why on earth did I only once comb charity shops and purchase just one item – a linen trouser suit which I proceeded to wear for the next six years? My wardrobe grew drabber by the year. I could have looked a million bucks if I had just taken to charity shopping. 27 year old self, maybe English men would have gotten you if you hadn’t looked so aggressively dowdy! You’re going to look hotter and more stylish in your mid-thirties onwards, by the way. This is weekend with the videos and dowdy duds is a choice. You can make a different one.
It will all actually be OK.
On account of English men not “getting” me, four years after this picture was taken I moved to Greece at age 31 still unmarried. In the UK people wouldn’t mention that kind of social drawback-in Greece it was part of the opening conversation. “Where is your husband?” Perhaps it was the accelerated peer pressure, but by 33 I fell pregnant in a new, very new (OK, three week) relationship and it was game over. I was going to have that child, not matter how inconvenient or socially unacceptable. It was 1998, and 2000 was a full two years away. But by golly, the Millennium Plan was being brought forward. I went ahead and had my daughter. Best. Mistake. Ever. And later still, when she was 10, I married a gorgeous man who is still my husband. I wore a charity shop dress which between you and me, I rocked. Here’s me and my dad, he can’t quite believe he’d finally lived to see me get married.