I love you. You know that, don’t you? I always have. Ever since we first met, on a windswept and sulk-filled family holiday in 1999, you have amazed me.
I learned to ride my bike that year, do you remember? My parents dragged the family up to a self-catered cottage for the Autumn half-term holiday. It was a ramshackle building in the middle of a country estate, and an outlandish decision that baffled all of us at the time. It was cold and miserable and the sheep had worryingly intelligent eyes, and I remember all of us desperately trying to find stuff to do. I was ten years old, and I’d never learned to ride a bike. You gave me the opportunity.
My hands kept going numb – either because I was cold, or because I thought that having a vice-like grip on the handlebars would help – and I was scared. Every time I fell off, crashed into a tree or scraped my hands on the stones, I got back up and looked down the track. I thought that stretch of road would go on forever. There was always more space for me to practise. I could learn; I could get better. And I did.
You bring out that side of me, you see. The hard-working, screw-you-adversity, I-am-the-master-of-my-fate side. Remember the first time I did the Edinburgh Fringe? Wowee. What a hectic month that was. You gave me an enormous challenge and I rose to it, because I knew you were worth the effort. Every year since then, the Fringe has been a welcome whirlwind, and every year I take away something new. Hey – remember last year when I fell in love with climbing after going up Arthur’s Seat? Bizarre, wasn’t it? But that’s why we work so well: you can always surprise me.
Besides, you always seem to know what’s best for me. For example, the complete lack of phone signal makes me appreciate my surroundings, which is great when I’m visiting my friends in Inverness. Instead of worrying about emails and bills and responsibilities in London, I get to relax and spend time with some of my favourite people on the planet. This weekend was great, by the way. Thanks for being so sunny and gorgeous.
I wish that we could spend more time together, but despite how much fun we always have, I’ve got to stick with London. At least for now. But thank you for always being there for me. Thank you for being such a great home for my little brother and sister. Thank you for being unapologetic, full of bizarre people, chilly, beautiful and – unlike everywhere within spitting distance of London – reasonably priced.