I don't like to say, 'it all came to me in a dream'.
It kind of insinuates I'm sitting on the right hand side of some deity who funnels divine inspiration to me as I sleep. Now, that would be lovely, but I'm sure quite improbable.
But the idea struck me out of nowhere, and I'm putting it down to that brilliant part of me that I don't get in touch with too often, that seems to know a hell of a lot more about who I am, and where I'm going, than I do; my subconscious.
We moved to London on 27th September 2010. The decision hadn't been a very well thought out one. I woke up one morning and suddenly felt that London was something I should do and it was time to do it now. The problem was, I had had a love affair with Manchester from the moment I'd arrived, and it was very much my home. The people were warm, friendly and open. You could walk from one end of the city centre to the other in about half an hour. It had theatres, shopping centres, stadiums and was utterly cosmopolitan. It was where I'd first discovered Spiritualism, and had met like-minded, open people - who weren't complete nutters. It was where Liam and I had first met and fallen in love. The home of many a messy student night. It was just a bloody cool place.
I'd stolen seven banana boxes from Asda in Moss Side and crammed all my belongings into them. Just seven banana boxes, a suitcase or two full of my clothes and the cat. I felt I should have accumulated more from my five years at university. With Liam's things in there too, the white van we'd hired for the move packed out a little more, with the parental donations of a coffee table, a TV and a TV stand. Within a week, we'd taken the obligatory trip to IKEA Croydon and kitted out our little box flat with all sorts of wonderfully named Swedish cutlery trays and pillow cases. There was barely a colour scheme, but it was our home.
A week passed. I bought an Oyster card for the underground and must have been charged at least five times for not beeping through the gate correctly. I walked too slowly for Londoners- either my legs were too short (I doubted that) or Londoners walked life at a faster pace than I did. London smelt funny; dusty or sooty - I wasn't sure.
Two weeks passed. I found myself exhausted at the end of each day, crashed out on my Solsta IKEA sofa bed. I dreaded the commute to work; wedged under a strange man's armpit, whilst he huffed morning breath down my neck on the District Line was just beyond terrible. My wallet was nearly always empty, because lunch in London for under five pounds was hard to find.
No, me and London just weren't getting on.
"I'm fed up. It's too fast in this city. It's too dirty. Plus, everyone's so depressed!" I whinged at Liam.
He told me to be patient, we were still adjusting and that I'd get used to it. He was right, of course. But at that time, I just could not see how I could possibly fit in. I liked open space, open people, open possibilities.
Exactly a year ago, yesterday, I woke up suddenly - just a few minutes before my morning alarm. I’d had a very vivid dream, and immediately reached for the paper and pen I kept by my bedside table for these kind of mental emergencies, and scribbled down five words.
I'm sure you can guess what they were.
In my dream I was standing in a very busy market street. People were trading goods with stall owners, children were skipping across the cobbles, a couple were kissing. They were all so busy that they didn't notice me. I had a hand bell in my right hand, and started ringing it to get their attention. Nothing changed. So I rang louder, and then louder still. I stood there in the cobbled streets, ringing my hand bell and laughing out loud for ages. Then suddenly a little girl turned and looked at me. And as she noticed me and began to laugh, so did her friend. It was infectious. One by one each person in the market woke up to the sound of the bell, and everyone was laughing.
It made me think: It only takes one thought from one person for things to start happening. If that thought is a good one, people begin to notice. And before you know it, everyone's caught the thought, connecting like-minds and positive people. London might be a big smoky city, and I only one little light, but I was going to put my light out there, and see what happened.