It’s weird just how little I use my passport these days. Since settling in London after a decade of the expat life, I’ve seen the unsmiling face of another country’s immigration official fewer than a dozen times. The USA, Japan, Ireland, France – that’s all I can bring to mind, in four years.
But that’s not the oddest part. Stranger still is how little I miss it.
It’s even a fairly rare occurence that I even leave London – ten weekends a year? Fifteen perhaps? And the destinations when I do , usually packing my bike and a wetsuit – Telford! Salford! The London Docklands! – seem just as exotic as Prague, Beijing, New Orleans. An ‘Auld Alliance’ tour taking in Edinburgh and Provence later this summer is causing as much excitement as backpacking across an Asian war zone.
Is it that the everyday existence of a normal British person – holidays in France, weekends at the DIY superstore, and The Sunday Times to look forward to – has become thrilling as I head towards my mid-thirties? Or is that living in London removes the need to go anywhere else?
After all, this city contains the whole world within that tarmac border called the M25. While global warming has resulted in an increasingly temperate climate: winters are much milder than they were two decades ago; we’ve even got a monsoon season now. (Global weather patterns now push cold and hot air fronts together on a line drawn from the southwest UK to northeast; as the gulf stream that’s kept Cornwall warm for centuries fizzles out, we can now expect tropical downpours a couple of times each summer along with intense heat and humidity.)
My existence has somehow has its gristly lows and sublime highs smoothed out into a consistent, mostly-positive terrine. (I used to get 60,000 visits a month to my blog; now it hits maybe 5K.) But oddly, life’s never felt better.