I remember my first ‘proper’ job in the City. Well, not just the job itself but the sense of being it gave me and how it made me feel.
When I successfully landed a job for a large Insurance company, I was flabbergasted to be honest. I mean, why would they want me? A rebellious misfit with a tendency to dress like a boy and make ‘colour blind’ fashion statements.
The routine of it was a shock to the system. Getting up at stupid o’clock in the morning and wearing sensible clothes indeed! But then, I’d find myself in a frock, walking along the East India Dock Road with the sun shining and I felt good. Life felt good.
I was not old enough to carry around worry and even though I had them, somehow they were filed under ‘later’ and ‘meh’. My thoughts were of nothing more than a trip to Petticoat Lane at the weekend or how cute was that boy on the other side of the road and was he really looking at me.
Eventually I would arrive in Bishopsgate and surrounded by beautiful old buildings that smell of success and peer down upon you, assessing your worth. I’d join the thong treading the streets along with all the serious people in suits and I would feel worthy and important and so alive.
I don’t think I have felt quite like for a long time……until last week that is.
My week in Istanbul was not just a jolly you know! No, I was actually there for a week employed in the services of a language academy as a ‘native English’ speaking teacher. This meant getting up at stupid o’clock in the morning and wearing sensible clothes!
Fortunately for me, I have a good friend in Istanbul with a spare bedroom. Not only that but she cooks!
The first morning when my alarm started its incessant chirping at 6am, I curse myself for being rash with acceptance and with eyes half closed, venture into the kitchen for wake up juice. A strong coffee and a shower later and I am out the door and onto the cobbled streets of Beşiktaş.
The world was waking up. Hot bread piled against bakery doors, shopkeepers wielding their trusty brooms or stocking their shelves and just a few of us early morning risers wrapped up in coats and scarves making our way to work.
‘The sky is the palest of blue tinged with pink that fades into buttercup yellow at it grazes the Bospherous. The sun is making its entrance and I watch the domes and minarets turn from shadow and embrace the light.
Seagulls chase the boat in grim determination until a gust of wind catches one, lifting it up and pushing it back as it frantically flaps its wings in an effort not to lose its place in the race.
As we cruise along, the rising sun reflects in the glass of the waterside buildings, setting them on fire. It is, I know, an optical illusion but still I see orange and yellow flames flicker within.
As we approach the other side, the dock wall is lined with gulls and cormorants going about their daily business. Some stand in groups gossiping, others are sharpening their beaks on the wall and there are some that look for all the world like Count Dracula. They stand perfectly still, wings outstretched and black as night with their bodies in shadow.
I’m seeing all of this with old eyes but I feel it with a young girl’s spirit’
The next morning, when my alarm curses me, I wake grinning and jump out of bed. In fact, I do the same every day for a week, looking forward to the feeling, the lifting of spirits, the carefree abandonment of having nothing but the day ahead to consider and planning my shopping trip to Taksim Square at the weekend.
I am, without a doubt, a city girl. A part of my heart will always belong to the magnificence that is London and it will always belong to me. I am one of its children and it bred me to live life to the fullest. I fell on it’s pavements and cut my knees, I played in it’s parks, swam in it’s rivers, climbed it’s towers and hid in it’s shadows.
There is something about an old city that wakes a sense in me. Perhaps its the history, the architecture, the atmosphere or purely the fact that I can merge into the crowd and become invisible. Whatever it is, I feel inspired.
Here is the history lesson: ‘Istanbul’ takes its name from the Greek Term ‘eis ten polin’ which means ‘To the City’.
Next time I am in need of inspiration, ‘eis ten polin’ I must go!