L’Amour Toujours

Today was the perfect day to visit my gran. I’ve been meaning to do it for months and months but could not find the right moment until today when I was drawn to her as I walked from Liverpool Street station. My destination was the river but something called to me from the gardens just up the road to Liv Street that I’ve walked past many times. But today I stopped. And without thinking I took the detour and walked towards the Barbican.
It was mid morning and for a change that part of the city wasn’t heaving. It was quiet and chilled out and just as I remember many years ago at weekends. Strolling along in the glorious sunshine being pulled like a magnet to a place of perfect magic and warmth when I was little.
I felt the excitement in the same way I did back then. Tucked behind the shiny city, off of White Cross Street and the market that I had visited with her many times,, but wasn’t there today, was the piece of London that looks as though it’s been captured in a bubble and preserved in nearly all its original beauty. Errol Street. The last time I was here a few years back it was perfectly in tact. This time the little walls that ran in front of those 1850”s flats were replaced by little wooden pickets. Those walls used to occupy a dreamy young girl for hours in the sun balancing and twirling like an Olympic gymnast. I was sad to see them gone. But everything else was exactly as I remembered. Exactly. My eyes immediately caught sight of the sign I so loved.
Peabody Estate
Private Property
No cycling, roller skating, cricket , football or other ball games.
No hawkers, canvassers or street musicians.
I felt like a rule breaker. Many times on that estate I roller skated, played with my ball, sang my little heart out and pretended to be a white cross market trader. Alright luv what can I get ya!
And to the left of that sign was F block. With flowers in the living room window as though she was still in residence. Hold on, at a glance they looked like exactly the same ones she had. For a moment I wanted to knock to see if she was home.. but she was with me alright. I could feel her, hear her voice, ‘is that you M’ hello Dear. When I hear the word Dear I always think of her. It always sounds like such an old person word to hear. She used to say it to me all the time with such affection. I absolutely love being called dear. Not many people use that word now but I have a couple of friends that do and they never know how much it makes me smile whenever I hear it.
I sat in the sun reminiscing for quite a while. It was such a happy place for me. She had the same warmth that the sun sprinkled on me as I sat there. I was like a smiley kid. I messaged my bro and he told me to go to the little church round the corner. He said it’s never open but while you’re there.
It was open. It’s Good Friday and there was something going on for the local kids. I’m not a one for churches but this tiny little church tucked away down the steps was still as simple and beautiful as it had always been. When I think how much I love London for its old and new this was a moment for just appreciating the old that had managed to preserve itself through all the changes. Turns out my grans flat is now in a grade 2 listed building. She however would be listed as a unique original and the heart of who I am today. I suddenly felt like I fitted perfectly in that EC1 location. There’s my root.
While I was in the church I said hello to a couple of the people in there. They asked why I was there. I told them about my gran who lived in the flats and used to bring us to this church.
The older lady, Lily, asked who she was. When I told her my grans name she was like , oh I knew her well. She used to look after Father Higgs who was the priest here then. Yes. She did 😊 She talked about what a lady she was, how kind she was and how well she took care of that priest. She was so pleased to meet me. And wanted to tell me all the stories of the time she knew her. I can’t tell you what a beautiful feeling that was to listen to someone who knew my gran from all those years back and remembered her so sweetly. Yes she was absolutely all those things. A little darling who all these years later I still miss.
I felt very emotional as I came out of the church as though I had rewound time and if I walked back to the flat she would be there with her hostess trolley that I could push up and down the hallway complete with tea set and nice biscuits. I had a lovely warm feeling inside that couldn’t even be matched by that amazing sunshine.
One of my favourite moments in my favourite city, London.
I stayed a little longer, had a cup of tea in the park and felt relaxed and oh so happy.
Eventually I left my starting point and I went to explore all the other new and old wonders of this great city.
My roots are just as I remember them but my future is whatever I want to make it.
Catching dreams is exactly where I am heading and flying with all the people I love is the inspiration that gets me to them.
L”Amour Toujours
The song I woke up to this morning!

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