London – The City That Saved Me

Holland Park in all it’s glory. Classic London.

I will always remember the moment when the plane was about to land at Heathrow airport in February 2007. I looked outside and saw the sea of welcoming lights and realised that shit just got real! The day was finally here! I was about to become a Londoner!

My first act as a Londoner was coming out of the airport toilet with a long trail of toilet paper stuck in my jeans. The long white veil of shame! (it was clean by the way). The first months here were mostly spent partying with a fellow traveller, let’s call her “Lucy”, and getting into ridiculous amounts of mischief that culminated with such events as getting banned from two clubs and getting kicked out of two flat-shares. We used to go to this horrible club in Leicester Square where we once weren’t allowed entry because apparently the weekend before we had been acting like ‘fucking Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie’. It makes me cringe to think I used to believe Central London was THE place to be.

This party-lifestyle started to lose it’s magic after four months and I knew I had to change everything. I had to remind myself that I came here to start a new life and it was time to do some growing-up.  It wasn’t going to be easy.

I spent a year of doing countless temp jobs in offices – filing, shredding, reception and all those wonderful little things that make you want to cry. I also worked as a barmaid in several bars, having to listen to old men and their stories, serving food to snooty customers and getting offered a fantastic opportunity of a threesome! I had to decline. I mean, she was so not my type!

I finally managed to pin down a full time job as a Legal Administrator/PA. I could write a whole different blog about my boss and my three years of working in a field that makes you seriously question humanity. I had to deal with slimy solicitors and fat cats with outdated ideals and outdated suits. It was time to move on.

I quit my job without having another one lined up. I took a risk and was hoping it would pay off. I worked the next 9 months in my local bar The Earl, just off Golborne Road, near Portobello Road. Those nine months were a seminal time in the character arc of my story. I had been completely lost all my life. I had to do some serious soul-searching and having a flexible job helped me to do so.

I’ve always liked writing and have always had a high interest in human condition, stories and experiences. I had an epiphany – why not do a course in journalism and see how it goes? I enrolled at London School of Journalism and for the first time in my life I felt I had some direction. I was excited about life again! My confidence was boosted when my feature story got highly positive feedback from the tutor. After I finished the course, I started writing short stories about my experiences in London and I was loving it. It was so exciting to be actually writing, even if it was just for myself!

I spent most of my free time writing short stories but I soon hit a creative wall.  A writer’s block so severe I left my laptop closed for months. I felt it wasn’t going anywhere, I needed to re-think my approach. Something just didn’t feel right.

But one day on the upper deck of  the number 23 bus, just when we passed the Odeon cinema in Marble Arch, I had an EUREKA moment! Why not turn the stories into a TV-sitcom screenplay instead? It made so much sense!

I had finally found my thing!

Screenwriting is now a huge part of my life and I think in a way it also defines me and even though I haven’t sold any scripts yet, I’m still as determined as ever to one day make a living out of it.

London changed my life and in a way it also saved my life. I feel I owe this city for welcoming me into her arms, for teaching me that to change your life, you need to change yourself first. I love this city and the people in it. The streets, the architecture, the light and atmosphere – it’s always so comforting. It’s my home and where my heart belongs to.