Well, I have now been in London for 14 days. I arrived after two very long flights from New Zealand exacerbated by a mix up in bookings. But the frustration was quickly forgotten when I eventually arrived at my sister’s house.
Since then the time has been spent mostly in catching up on each other’s news and meeting family. And I am part of a very large family. Father was one of 13 and each of the siblings had a couple of children, with the exception of one sister and one brother who had none. So while there are only two surviving siblings of Father’s there are plenty of cousins. And my sister has three children and six grandchildren so life has been rather busy.
One highlight was a visit to a retirement home where one of the surviving sisters lives. She is suffering a form of dementia. She was perfectly lucid for most of the time we were there but then she couldn’t remember any of us, not even her son, his wife and their two little girls. How very sad. She also became very tearful when she was told that her brothers had died. Very sad and scary because she is only 8 years older than I am.
Today we have been to NZ House to have a copy of my passport certified. Somehow I have mislaid my driver’s licence so I had to apply for a replacement. Have you travelled on public transport in London? One bus ride, three tube trains and one hour and forty-five minutes later we arrived at the Haymarket and NZ House. I had quite forgotten how big, noisy and crowded London is. It is a shock to a “colonial” even a “colonial” who was born and brought up in London.
And how strange it is that when I am in NZ I call England “home” and when I am here I call NZ “home” Today I felt quite at home in New Zealand House.
You can never go home again, but the truth is you can never leave home, so it’s all right.
Maya Angelou, American author and poet 1928 –
And London has of course changed since I was last here. The changes to the East End are amazing – this is because the Olympics were mainly staged in this area last year. More on these changes shortly.