March 20, 8:00 PM, LONDON
Emily:What can you tell me about London?
Jacob: It’s the capital of England.
E: I mean in your own experience.
J: My own experience? (Sighs)
E: (Laughs) Okay, maybe not your most recent experience. But just in general.
J: Well it was not too far on the train from where I grew up in Bath in the West Country of England and in (the) end of 1985 my wife decided that she wanted to go to school in London to study, get A levels, and go to art school and so it was a big shock to me, being a west country lad, to come up to the capital. And we first moved to Bayswater, just above Notting Hill Gate, and it took me ten months of nervousness and anxiety before I actually got my head ‘round it. That was London, for me.
E: And then once those ten months had passed how were you assimilating?
J: Well what happened about after ten months, we actually moved to our own house into a more of a village type of environment called Belsize Park. So it had pretty much everything on your doorstep and instead of being a kind of sprawling cosmopolitan mass, it felt more like a village so you had a neighbourhood. Local restaurants on the same street. And we didn’t always, we wouldn’t venture out that often into the city itself so it was… and I think owning our own property made things so much easier. It became far more permanent.
E: That was England’s Lane?
J: Englands Lane. And I’d started psychotherapy in Kentish Town, or North of Kentish Town, so I could walk. It was all a fantastic coincidence. So, therefore for me, London two or three times a week would be a half a an hour walk to another neighbourhood, very quiet, another half an hour walk back. The whole Belzize part of the village just became home.
E: And so now that you’ve returned to London, aside from the last two weeks, what are your feelings about Primrose Hill, and then London in general?
J: Well, my sons live here. So you would think I would feel it was more important to be here than maybe back in the west country where my main house is where I have electric gates and I can hide in privacy. And again it’s been yet another huge shock. Regardless of the fact that Primrose Hill is an extremely beautiful neighbourhood, and all the shops and restaurants are on your doorstep, and you don’t really have to leave, and you’ve got a huge beautiful park in Primrose Hill. Again I don’t know if it’s culture shock so much. I can’t really call it culture shock.
E: Human shock.
J: Yeah, shock of having to interact with people, without going from your door into a machine, called a car, and driving to another place where you get out the car, pick up some food, put it in a trolley, put it back in the car, go back to your house, behind the electric gates so it’s, the whole thing is very…
J: Well when you’ve lived in a place most of your life and then you go the capital without your… with nowhere to hide, you know?
E: So would you say that’s your least favourite thing about London?
J: I think my least favourite thing about London is… well London has many many areas and some people don’t venture into (them). We’re living virtually in the centre of things. We’re not far from West 1, we’re not far from Soho, we’re not far from the West End. We’re not just in London, we’re not in greater London. We’re virtually slap bang in the middle. And there are areas which are more residential, which are calmer and not so difficult.
E: So the thing you hate the most is being too close to the centre?
J: I think that it’s lack of privacy or a sense of a lack of privacy. So for instance, if you’re ill, and you’re living in the countryside and you happen to be in your dressing gown it doesn’t really matter, to go to the front door. There’s no one who can see you. I think in London you can’t really escape. Certainly not where we are, right on the street.
E: And what would you say your favourite thing about London is, this time?
J: I like finding new areas. It’s areas that you’ve only seen on a Monopoly board before. And you go down. You may have been down them a million times but I’m starting to pay attention to the city which has completely been transformed and changed. And yesterday was the first time I went up the Shard. I’ve been up the London Eye before. It’s some incredible views. I know the Savoy. I know the river, a little bit, in that end. But, London is changing and it’s growing. And that’s exciting. For me to go ‘round streets that I went around in 1986…
E: Great year. (My birth year)
J: (Laughs) Thank you. To go around those familiar streets is not as exciting.
My favourite thing about London? Probably, I would say the food. Some of the restaurants are quite incredible. And my favourite most important three people in the world live here.