Autumn. Simply Scrumptious.
There are a few things - rites of passage - that one must fulfil when becoming a true Londoner.
Most of these things can only be fulfilled over a number of years, and thereafter, as if by coincidence, you usually get a passport at the end of it. (I can apply for mine next April/May. I can hardly believe it.)
My little cousin from New Zealand (New Zaylin) is fresh off the boat; been here for 6 months. She still has much to learn. (Even if she doesn't think so.)
"British people love chain stores. Love a chain store."
No, they don't, actually.
The Brits love an independent, local, very British, small, homegrown, business. In fact. The big chain stores are all closing down and people would rather support the local small guys than the big "money guzzling" guys. At least, the educated middle-class do.
Her: "I love the tube and taking buses across town! It's so easy!"
Me: Um...until you are working. And you have to do that every morning and every night. And when you're on a mission, it's extra fun. Especially if you have to see a friend on the other side of the city. Eventually you won't bother, and you will gradually lose contact with that person."
Some of the things one realises as the years roll by, in no particular order:
1) People here don't actually eat crumpets all day long. Or much. Even at all. Maybe your gran does in deepest, darkest Lincolnshire for her 'tea' (which is supper), but I have yet to see anyone actually eat crumpets since I've been here.
2) The tube is a novelty for people who are fresh off the boat, or tourists. The novelty lasts no more than one week. Ever.
3) You will start eating organic, superfoods into your diet. All the supermarkets have an organic range, and stock gorgeous, beautiful ranges of fruit, vegetables and weird things like goji berry-infused quinoa. You have so much choice here, and if you do it wisely, it won't break the bank.
4) You will eventually buy a sleeping bag coat.
A guy came into work last year, and proudly chortled that he had invested in a Canadian goose down (very trendy and expensive)
Positively balking, "Oh dear, say goodbye to getting laid ever again," I said. "What made you do it?"
He said: I got sick of being cold.
I got sick of being cold.
He was closer to being a Londoner than I was. One year closer, in fact. Because I have also decided that I don't want to be cold anymore.
Not only is it a rite of passage for living here; it's a rite of age. One sounds old when they declare that they're sick of being cold.
One is old when they're sick of being cold; just like one is old when they're sick of seeing the inside of a nightclub. Or that one plays one's music too loud.
It's not that I was freezing in my wool coats, and these I will wear on warmer days.
It's just that, the moment I pulled on my new, duffley, entirely waterproof, windproof, coldproof, mobile sleeping bag, I knew there was no turning back.
Gosh, but this IS nice.
I am now, after all this time, a true Londoner. Where you don't bother fucking around, you instead buy something that forms a warm, soft barrier between you and the biting elements.
Ted Baker number. (Best £300 quid I've ever spent?) It will last a lifetime, and it's all shiny and brassy and comes with an enormous hood filled with luscious faux fur.
It's quilted and lined with feathers, (not quite Canadian goose, but feels just as brilliantly warm), and it doesn't come with a belt, but rather pull rings to give it some shape.
One of the drawbacks of the mobile sleeping bag is that you look like you're in a tent, and you might as well kiss your shape (and sex life?) goodbye.
Not always so. This parka fits me like a glove baby. My only regret is that I didn't buy one winters ago.
No fuss, no wet wool, no belts hanging in toilets (that's happened so many times, I can't even tell ya. Going for a wee whilst wearing a coat with a belt. After too many mulled wines), no blustery freezing wind going down my neck.
And a zip that goes from top to bottom, no fannying about with buttons. (I'm not even product placing here. For real. I'm just so goddamn chuffed with my winter purchase.)
And like most Ted Baker jackets, it has a beautiful satiny lining. Yum.
It's parka time.
(Just in time for Finland. Also my son is literally being pushed around in a mobile fleece bag, so I'm in good company.)
Can I climb in there with you too please?