I begin this space for writing while living in a room in East London, halfway between Mile End and Whitechapel. In places, the walls are cracked and peeling; sometimes when I am trying to drift off to sleep, pieces of plaster will rain down on the pillow. Because of this, sound carries particularly well and I can hear the silence between the beats of the song the boy next door is playing. I can also hear when the couple upstairs fight, and when they make up after, amorously. But the room is mine, every inch of it, and I have dressed up the window sill with a cactus plant that does not require me to actually nurture it, and I'm here on my own, in this sprawling city of 8 million people I don't know. But the solitude is good. The anonymity is good. There's space here to breath, and reflect and maybe remember what it's like to be stripped down to the bare bones of myself. No one expects anything of me.
The situation is a grand old cliché, so much so, in fact, that it must be reality. When has ordinary life ever felt so close? I walk on the street and the smells are so sharp, the colours so bright and contrasted. There is a river of creative energy surging in this city, and I am hoping to sit close to it, embrace it, let it remind me of all the things I hope to do in this lifetime, and all the good that is in the world, still.