I’m absolutely amazed at the speed of our vaccination programme; Jamie and I have our 2nd jabs scheduled so when that time comes, we’ll be raring to go. The biggest lesson I’ve learned from lockdown is to be grateful for the small things but I’m sure I’ll forget that when we’re free 😊.
During this latest period of staying at home, my granddaughter had to select one member of her family and write their biography for a school project. I loved working with her on her assignment and as my story is somewhat interesting in its entirety, I’ve decided to share some snippets in this month’s blog.
Looking back, a move to London in the late 80’s saved me from myself. I was adopted at 3 months old and brought up in a very small village in West Cumbria where everyone knew everyone else’s business. At the height of the 1960s, more than 16,000 British babies were adopted, and it was a very different process from that of today. My parents owned the village shop and post office and I found out I was adopted in the school playground from children whose parents knew my circumstances. I grew up with the “adopted girl” label and my school years went from bad to worse. My behaviour wasn’t great, and the more the villagers gossiped about me, the more I rebelled. Whilst my parents were good to me, they didn’t talk about my adoption nor did they provide me with the information on my background. I grew up wondering who I was – I had no identity.
Moving to London in 1989 was the opportunity I needed. I absolutely loved the anonymity; my label had gone. However, I did have my 7-year-old daughter to think about and I wanted her with me every step of the way; after what happened to me there was no way I was going to leave her in Cumbria until I was settled as had been suggested. Anyway, after some very difficult decisions (which in hindsight weren’t great) we made it through the first 6 months and our London life improved with time.
I secured a great job in the City and had an absolute blast through the 1990’s. London had been a leading global financial centre since the 1960s. But on October 27th 1986, it became “the” global financial centre. It was the day of the Big Bang – when, in one fell swoop, the City of London was deregulated, revolutionising its fortunes, and turning it into a financial capital to rival New York. London’s switch from traditional face-to-face share dealing to electronic trading helped it outpace its European competitors and become a magnet for international banks. London in the 90’s was hugely optimistic, there was much more social cohesion than there is today, much less divisive politics and a wonderful atmosphere of harmony.
The wine bars were packed, and City workers spilled out onto the streets after work. Whilst open outcry in and around the trading pits was disappearing there were still a lot of “trading jackets”, a blazer worn by brokers who executed the trades. They were intentionally brightly coloured so individual traders and the financial firm they worked for could be easily identified. I loved being in among this exciting, colourful new world and whilst I studied hard to improve my knowledge of the financial markets, the lifestyle I led was very much work hard, play hard.
I drank champagne and cocktails and went to some of the best venues London had to offer. Jamie and I used to go to a bar on Thursday nights in Bow Lane. It was full on Latino and by 10pm everyone was dancing outside in the street to the upbeat music. Some of us were dressed in full on business attire mixed in with the traders in their brightly coloured jackets. The bar staff stood on bar top pouring shots into open mouths below!
I’ve missed London during the pandemic and I’m looking forward to returning once lockdown is over. I do hope people return to the office with some home working mixed in; social interaction is so important to our well-being. It’s been a hard slog for home workers, we all need to get out of our elasticated-waist sweatpants and off Zoom. Its unnatural to see ourselves in a square on a screen, especially with our new look hairstyles. I don’t know whose it worse, mine or Boris’s! I also appreciate there’s another side to London and in my next blog I will share the not so glamourous side coupled with my experience volunteering for the homeless charity Crisis.
As everyone knows, I write my story to raise awareness of autoimmune disease. Loads of people write to me after a blog goes live and many of you raise the same concern about time to diagnosis. People on average see 6 doctors over a period of 4 years before they get a diagnosis. This isn’t right but I do understand why. In general, autoimmune diseases tend to arrive unpredictably, disguised as other conditions, offering only confusing clues as to what they are, and it takes a lot of working out to untangle all the pieces. Being adopted, I had no family medical history, and my diagnosis took over 20 years. If I’d been diagnosed sooner its possible my sacroiliac joints wouldn’t be completely fused and the level of pain I tolerate may have been reduced.
It’s really important to me to continue to raise awareness for these conditions; please keep your questions coming as if I can offer any help and advice about my diagnosis that will help you, every minute I spend on my blog will be worth it.
When lockdown ends, I definitely won’t miss deciding what to make for dinner on day 499 😊. See you in the pub xx