The city of our imaginations was London. In Lagos of the 1980’s “London” was a magic sound: its very utterance conveyed unattainable sophistication, hipness, style, escape. London stole my father for a few years of study. London bathed the in-crowd at school with the “been-to” glow. A wash of light followed even those whose cousins-fathers-sister-friend-daughters-boyfriends were rumored to have visited that fabled city.
Like many schoolchildren, I knew the London of Dickens, of the Queen; the London of black taxis and Big Ben. So when this Terence Trent D’Arby video slid into heavy rotation on state television, I was unprepared for this other, intensely romantic London, of warehouses and dive bars, of motorcycles, dandies and miscegenation. This is when London became a real place, a tangible desire of mine.
Of course, this desire maintained intensity for a brief season, and I spent my adolescence in that unlikely emerald city, Seattle, and later New York. With each new city, London’s call grew fainter. I doubt I will ever live there. But thanks to the internet, I’ll always have Terence.