At the end of this month I will only have 2 months left on my lease in London. I still remember how excited I was when I first moved in. I finally got to live in London. I had dreamed about living in London ever since I came to LSE for the open day in 2014. But with the BPTC over, London is looking less and less attractive for a 20-something trying to make it on her own for the first time. Maybe for a while or maybe indefinitely, I’m considering returning to my hometown of Bristol.
Moving to London: attempt #1
Back in 2014 I thought that life was going to work out as planned. I had just missed out on a place at Oxford after my interview, but I reassured myself that I would still be going to a top three university and my chances of becoming a barrister wouldn’t be thwarted. At the time I thought that I had to go to Oxford or Cambridge to become a barrister. I couldn’t really be blamed for that.
Anything I had learned about the Bar had come from researching it on my own and the hours I’d spent reading through chambers’ profiles had cemented this idea in my mind. There were two things I had to do: (1) get into Oxbridge (failing that LSE) and (2) get a First. Ironically, neither of these things would happen. This was primarily due to circumstances outside of my control but for a long time I internalised these failures.
In an extremely fortuitous twist of fate I would in fact find myself enrolling at the University of Warwick. I should note that at the time I didn’t think that missing out on my AAA by 4 UMS marks was in any way a positive: both LSE and my insurance university rejected me and I had to go through clearing. It was alone, in my car and in between sobs that I tearfully accepted a clearing place at Warwick and headed there instead of London. My dreams of living in the capital would sadly be deferred.
In the anticipation during upper-Sixth, I had imagined exactly what living in London would be like. I’m going to start my own blog I had told myself, and created ‘www.blessinginthecity.wordpress.com’ (now defunct before you try and search for it). I was excited to move to London because I had spent my life in England living in Bristol and (briefly) Portishead which is by the sea in-between Bristol and Weston-Super-Mare. Bristol is a delightful place, but it’s not London.
A Town mouse at heart
I had imagined London to be a place full of variety and difference. One where I would learn what it felt like not to be the only black girl in the immediate area. One where I didn’t have to travel far to get make-up and hair products, and one where I could meet people and start a band. At the time I was really into indie rock and absolutely enamoured with Jamie T who’d sing about life in London and the Northern Line and I thought he was so cool. I’d never been on the Underground before. I was definitely a Town Mouse craving to be in the beating heart of the Metropolis.
Moving to London: attempt #2
My family and I had actually left Bristol in 2012 to move to Windsor which, if anyone has been, makes Bristol seem like New York City. The nearest place I could get hair products from was Slough. But I was near-enough to London that I could find really cheap hotel deals and stay there on weekends, walking around and soaking it up – imagining what it would be like to live there one day. Fast-forward to 2017 and I finally got to live in London when I started the GDL. The first few weeks were amazing. I went to the Tate Modern, wandered around the parks and commuted on the underground for the first time. I got my own Oyster card and learned quickly that in London nobody talks to each other and nobody says “cheers Drive!” when they get off the bus.
London as a legal hub
What really got my heart racing about moving to London was that it is the central nervous system of our legal industry. I could finally see the Old Bailey from the inside and wander around the Royal Courts of Justice. I was right next to the Supreme Court and would stand between its building and the Houses of Parliament, weighing up the physical and theoretical separation of powers as statues of men I would write critical essays about as a History student loomed above me. I would walk past barristers with their brief cases and, on a really good day, in their full courtroom regalia, hurrying around Temple looking busy and important. I would imagine future barrister Blessing looking equally as busy and important striding down Chancery Lane.
The London calling
Unfortunately however, the past two years have been filled with classes and study sessions that have been so mammoth that my doctor genuinely prescribed me to go outside and get some sunshine because I had vitamin D deficiency. Although going into Gray’s Inn every day for school was magical at times, I cannot shake the feeling that I am not ready to leave London yet because I haven’t seen enough of it. Everyone I know seems to live in or around London. A significant amount of legal jobs are also in or around London. To top it all off, London seems to keep me inspired in a way that nowhere else has.
8 million people to keep me inspired
I’ve seen for myself the rising numbers of homeless people in the streets and juxtaposed this against the eye-wateringly expensive luxury apartment developments on every other street, fuelling my desire to work in Housing and Property Law. I’ve lived in the capital at a time where youth violence has continued to ravage communities and marshalled in the RCJ when applications made to protect children from such violence have been made. This has put fire behind my research into the Modern Slavery Act and Police responses to County Lines.
Not to say that these issues aren’t endemic across the country, but as a young not-quite-qualified barrister, I want to understand as many different lived experiences as possible. My fear is that by moving back to my hometown of Bristol with its population of 450,000 I’ll miss out on what I’ve gained by living in a city with 8 million+ residents and counting.
Over the next two months I’ll put my mind to figuring out where to go next. My hope is that my (many) job applications will pull through and I can have something solid that ties me to London and actually helps me afford to pay the exorbitant rents. In the meantime, whilst moving home promises something stable and reliable, I’m not sure if I am ready to be cut off from London just yet. Time will tell.
Until next time,