So we know about all the little things that startle you when you when you move to a new city. But for me there’s been a sneakier side to culture shock. It started one day several weeks ago when I realised that while I was scrambling around wresting with London, at some point I had taken that last stumbling step out of my life in Manchester.
So what’s weird about it? I hate writing these four words, but: it’s hard to explain. First of all, just because I’ve moved on from Manchester doesn’t mean that I’ve found a place here. I have not. I feel like an expat in the country I born and bred in.
But lately I’ve started wondering if that’s just because I’ve spent my life in the Northwest and abroad. Because yeah, it’s obvious the universe is fond of me when I’m skipping along the river eating huckleberries, or when a bad night means sulking under a billion neon lights, in a great outfit, under the soulful gaze of a cheesy pop idol…but life’s benevolence is not quite as obvious when strangers shriek MOVE! at me as I walk by. Or when volatile drunks throw their arms around me. Or when a dark liquid from somewhere above me splatters against my cheek on Regent St at 6am. And these are mild happenings compared to what I decline to publish, but the idea is that my superstitious soul, already wearied by the whole saga, has had a hard time dealing with such aggressively unpleasant everyday incidents. I mean, I had a cat pee on my shoe in Hyde Park. I don’t think I’ve ever felt my sense of humour under so much strain. I can take a bit, but that’s some heavy lifting, right?