Leaving do speach

We landed in Stanstead airport around 6pm (UK time) on the 1st of October 2005, the day after her 23rd birthday. For her it was the first time in this country (she was actually quite scared of flying 🙂 ), whilst he had been here in 1997 when he was only 16 for a 3 weeks stay through a friend of his father’s friends, a pigeon racing fan too of course! We had left each of us with a dream, for him to make music his profession and for her to make motherhood her dream come true, only possible with him though, hence she had to follow him!

We had no idea what the word ‘loo’ meant; we looked at the roofs shapes whilst approaching London traveling on the Stanstead express and it reminded us of Mary Poppins scenery of course… We had left Italy with the conviction we had to say goodbye to the sun, as it would rain every single day in this capital, when the first summer here was actually one of the hottest we had ever experienced! We drank espressos and cappuccinos and thought that milk in tea was the weirdest thing we had ever heard of, a sort of legend…

We stayed in a modest hotel in Clapham South for a week and then we moved into this very same flat on the 8th of October of 10 years ago. It was the first time we were not living with our parents. It was the first time we were flat sharing together as a couple. It was the first time we were immigrants. It was the beginning of an amazing adventure, despite we had initially planned to stay only for a year or so.

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At the time the flat looked pretty much as you see it tonight, with its furniture of great taste and extremely functional 🙂 . If you have been here in the past couple of years you may notice in comparison the huge changes we made to it whilst living here! On the other hand, if you are a long term friend of ours, you may also remember how it felt like at the time we were having parties around this small round table or chatting on those huge armchairs…

In fact many of you who are here tonight, came for dinner or slept at least one night here. E, L, M, W, H, J and G were present at our 2010 Xmas dinner when we announced we would become parents 6 months later. N and S slept in our living room for a couple of nights in 2007, before deciding to move permanently to the UK together as well as us. D and M babysat our son during E’s hens do! G had the pleasure to test our sofa a couple of times coming back from one of his many gigs 🙂

Even the food you are having tonight brings us back memories, as it is from our local Indian take away (Curry Paradise) that we would always call for a free delivery every time we had something special to celebrate or when we simply could not be bothered to invent something for dinner once again 🙂 They must have saved our number as when we call them they already know the address!

We were soon taught to hide our emotions such as showing too much body language or being too loud, however we quite struggled at work, yet alone at home! Maybe our neighbors won’t miss the shouting and breaking plates when we have an argument – yes, we can go as passionate and mental as that during a disagreement!

On Friday it was our daughter first birthday, she was born as an amazing unplanned home birth in this flat’s main bedroom next to us, with no one else to help but the two of us (the ambulance got here 2 minutes after she was born – the father elected gynecologist of the day 🙂 ). I am not sure if the landlord (a sort of ghost, an over 80 years old lady who we never met in person – therefore we suspect does not exists – she is even called Mrs Oldman!)… I am not sure if she will appreciate the bloodstain we are leaving on her carpet!

Anyway, when you move so far from home you feel you have lost everything: your network, your habits, your knowledge, your comfort zone, your identity. And slowly, it takes a couple of years at least, you settle down. You start getting used to the British efficiency, you even complain when it is not at its best standard (this is not good enough! 🙂 ); you order pepper mint tea at the end of your dinner; you stress about primary schools allocation…

But mostly important of all, we started growing our very own family: you all, the very best friends you can call at 4am in the morning if you are going into labor, the people that help you keep your relationship together when it is going into pieces, the persons you share with your everyday up and downs, some of them with whom you work every week side by side… Thank you for being so supportive, loving, caring and fun, we would have never made it so far considering the food is pretty much horrible here, at least for us 🙂

On the 3rd of May, it was our last night here. One as many others. She was putting the kids to bed, whilst he would return from a gig very late in the night as usual. Nothing was different, it was just our last night at 17B Lambeth Road.

Someone rang the bell at 9.05pm, who could that be on a Saturday night? She opened the kitchen window as she has been doing for nearly 10 years now, to find out who is it to decide if going downstairs to open the main door. A young girl, holding a bottle of white wine, dressed trendy for a night out, with a Spanish accent, suddenly asked if Bianca lived here, she had just made it to the dinner. I am afraid not, not yet at least. But it is as if everyone knows already it’s not us who lives here anymore…

So we are here tonight to celebrate our 9.5 years in what is now our new country, to remember the friends met along the journey and declare ourselves British to the core in an accelerated citizenship ceremony! We even have some quality streets in the cabinet 🙂 – And the story is to be continued at our house warming party this summer where you are all invited of course!

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