‘Wanderlust’ is the love of moving, a brilliant rock song, and a word that perfectly sums up my life. Before I moved to London I’d lived in over 30 different places, as far west as Wales, as far North as Sheffield, and as far east as Germany. I am not in a travelling circus.
I love London but am almost certain I’ll move again. Leaving the Big Smoke behind won’t be easy – there’s just so much to love. That’s why I’ve decided to make this list of easy things you can rely on to take you right back to the city.
Stand in your wardrobe, wearing everything you own
Recreate a perfect summer day on the Tube by donning way more layers than would normally be appropriate, grabbing a small candle and standing in your bedroom cupboard for half an hour. The mix of darkness, poor light, and mild suffocation will have you singing ‘Back in the Summer on the Central Line’ like Bryan Adams in no time. Thirty minutes might not be enough to get the full experience so make sure to stay in there until you see your breath dripping down the walls.
Have someone tread on your heel
London is physical. I’m basically numb to anything but a suplex from my fellow Londoners at this point. Nothing is quite as evocative of the city though, as a full de-shoeing from someone slightly miscalculating how much they can invade your personal space.
A few weeks ago I was approaching an escalator at Euston when a guy cut across the back of me, knocked my bag off my shoulder, scraped his boot down my entire left calf, and closed with a firm stamp on the back of my shoe, taking it clean off and exposing my Darth Vader sock to the world. I didn’t even look up. Just clumsily snaked my foot back into my flattened trainer and apologised to the queue of people I’d inconvenienced with my selfish need to wear two shoes.
Walk behind a smoker
Just ahead of a grease fire, the smokiest thing in the world is the dude walking in front of you. And then the dude after him. Whether it’s a light, vampire lair mist of cigarette smoke, or a ground-zero Hiroshima cloud from a vaping machine, it’s always right ahead of you, and you’ll always inhale every last particle like you’ve just started a ‘Who Can Hold Their Breath The Longest’ competition.
There’s something about the ritual of fresh(ish) air followed by an unexpected gulp of tobacco smoke that feels so inherently London. Next time you find yourself standing in the great outdoors and missing city life, smoke an entire pack of Malboro Reds that you’ve taped together and be immediately transported back to Oxford Street.
Chuck £0.30 into the toilet
It’s a Saturday, you’ve been walking around London all day, drinking coffee and eating avocado toast like the good millennial you are. You’re on your way home and all that diuretic caffeine catches up with you. Nature is calling and asking it to leave a message will upset everyone on the Tube and certainly ruin your trousers.
You race up the escalator at Paddington, dart into the toilets, and are faced with a shiny metal barrier between you and sweet relief. That’ll be £0.30, please. Oh you don’t have it? Guess you’ll have to piss yourself then. Next time you’re away on your travels, why not bring yourself right back to Central London by throwing a handful of coins into the toilet bowl when you’re finished.
Be sure to have just changed a £20 note into two hundred 10p coins to really complete the experience. Or save yourself the money and be whisked back to the glorious memory of the free toilets at St. Pancras. Bliss.
Hit yourself in the face with your umbrella
Aaah spatial awareness. There’s a drought of the stuff in London and when it rains, sadly it dries up even more. Whether it’s the common jab to the temple with those spiky things on the side, or the rarer uppercut to the jaw as it’s popped open, a bit of light umbrella assault will get you dreaming of London. Backpacks worn on both shoulders also work well for this kind of thing – look for bags so packed that the zips are barely holding them together.
Share your private info with the people around you
Most people will have a quick glance at your screen if you’re using your phone right under their nose but only on the Underground will you get an audience utterly engrossed in what you’re doing. So now you’re away from the Tube, how can you get that feeling back when you’re checking your bank balance at a restaurant in Berlin? Or working on something personal in an Italian coffee shop?
Buy yourself a mini projector and whack that sensitive information up on the wall for everyone to see. Alternatively, run around outside and shout your PIN as loud as you can. Aaaah… feels like London again.
Got any more tips for bringing a bit of the city to your life?
Images by Matthew Fournier, Jaroslav Devia, & Craig Whitehead