by

One Stop from Pimlico

The train, the tube, the smoke, the city. No more.

Standing on a platform as dawn breaks, realising you were cheated. The promise of jobs, the life, the money, the culture.

They are not mine and never will be. I am not of here. This is not my place, nor do I want it to be. I am other.

On hearing colleagues ask others "What's it like living outside London?", I cringe. I hear supposedly smart people's terror of Scotland's potential freedom. I'm asked why we should publish in Welsh, and have to explain that my language is real. It exists.

Haven't you seen your country? The real country. Where the South East is but a part, and real lives are lived outside of London's bubble.

Where technology exists not only in Old Street. Where memory lasts longer than a Starbucks flavour and carries lore older than English itself.

I left.

No longer King's Cross, Euston, Warren Street, Oxford Circus. No more Green Park, Victoria, Pimlico and Vauxhall.

Where I measured my journey by stops on a line, now it's marked by the land.

I crossed the River Trent, the Tome and Warmsworth Beck and didn't look back. I saw the River Don pass beneath me and I was happy. The Skell and the Went passed by and I smiled. The Aire and Wharfe showed me the way. And the Ouse brought me home.

Not the home of family, childhood and upbringing. But the home of past, of friends, of growth and realisation. Old kingdoms of Britain, alive and well. Tied to reality of earth and sky.

The Derwent is my last stop now. Less train, less tube, less smoke, less city. More language, more laughter, more real, and more me.