On the verge of heading back off to disconnected bliss in the Aegean for a couple of weeks, I've abruptly realised that London is where I live. It's taken me a while. Despite five years here, back and forth - and two now in Hitchcock Towers - I would obstinately half-consider the city a strange and glorious game, a sometime playground that had captured my head and my liver but toyed with my heart. That, I believed, still nestled like a hedgehog in a little, leaf-mulched pocket of Oxfordshire wood.
But last week I was making the evening walk back from the tube, past the fat old guy in slippers who looks in the bins, past the falsely-promising glossy hamburgers on the peeling billboards, past the gutter confetti of blossom and leaflet and butt, and I thought: Oh. Here I am. Home.
It is not the most beautiful home, but it is viciously alive.
In my mongrel patch of Hackney-Shoreditch-Hoxton, that affected den of silicon entrepreneurs and silicone posers, you can still turn a crumbling corner and find this on a wall.
Thank God it's survived the Council so far, who earlier this year apparently demanded the removal of the previous kick-ass mural by CEPT. Hackney struggles against gentrification. When I pass the valiant and smelly sit-in at iconic pile The Foundry I always try to radiate a mixture of admiration and apology for being the kind of self-conscious, Vogue-reading Cotswolds immigrant the boutique hotel they are trying to scupper is intended for.
Oh, but it still has heart, my little corner of north east. I still love to sit with the light off at night and watch the Indian woman in the house across the way watching Oprah in her orange housecoat, numbly eating Iranian sweets from a paper plate; the feral children screaming obscenities as they gambol along the street with all the aching grace of natural predators; the small thin Jamaican man with the clumpy black shoes who pushes shoulder-first through his red front door at 9pm with epic ennui.
Last night, I dined at the Gherkin, and looked out over London's magnificent ugliness, framed with Dickensian dankness under a lowering, billowing purple-slate sky; then hailed a grumbly cab back home, where my devastatingly lovely new Comptoir des Cotonniers grey leather heels speared a spiral of staffie shit.
I'll miss it. More nonsense when I'm back.