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A (sadly very blurred) close up of the area around the Houses of Parliament. Big Ben is in the centre of the shot.

Flying into Heathrow by night is a wonderful and strangely affecting experience. Geordie band Maximo Park have a break up song named ‘Books From Boxes.’ Its lyrics describe night falling and towns becoming like ‘circuit boards.’ That’s what London looks like, by night, from above. Hundreds of illuminated circuit boards, laid out side by side in a vast network, lit up and radiating out for mile after square mile in all directions. It’s magnificent.

We cruise along above the Thames, peering down at the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, the Millennium Eye, Tate Modern. They’re all pocket size, miniaturised as if they were part of some kid’s die-cast modelling kit.

A (sadly still pretty badly blurred) shot of the enormous collection of circuit boards that is London by night.
All too soon, it’s over and we’re on the tarmac at Heathrow. My final flight is complete, thirteen months and fifteen countries after leaving, I’m back in Blighty.

I see a familiar blonde woman as I walk in through the Arrivals gate at Terminal Five. Who the hell is that? It takes me a moment to figure out that it’s not actually someone I know. In fact it’s Kate Thornton, former host of ITV’s insanely popular ‘talent’ show X Factor. Flanked by cameras and lights, she’s thrusting a microphone into the wrinkled faces of two old giffers.

Presumably some kind of volcanic emotional reunion is about to take place and our Kate’s here to milk the tears of joy for the latest cringeworthy TV atrocity. Ms Thornton is smaller than she looks on telly and has obviously had about three tons of makeup slapped onto her orange pixie features.

‘You missed the real coming home story Kate,’ I neglect to yell at her as I scurry past. ‘I’d have cried for the cameras, done a dance, kissed the floor, sucked your toes as if you were Fergie, the lot…’

Ah, but who needs Thornton? She couldn’t possibly match up to my prize pixie celeb spot in Lima airport. That was Bjork, and she didn’t even deck me, so ner!

Two hours and a “Keep silent - read your free newspaper, feel a bit awkward but don’t look at or, heaven forbid, talk to anybody - No! Restrain yourself, don’t make eye contact you cretin, they might just GO MENTAL AND STAB YOUUUU!!!’ Tube ride later and I’m near Central London.

My mate Mike is kindly putting me up for the night. It’s kind of strange to see someone I know; it’s the first time since Laura and Julian jetted off home from Cambodia about five months ago. We go for a cheap pint of bitter (ah sweet golden nectar of my homeland!) in Swiss Cottage and a late night curry.

London's night streets are cold and drizzly, but unmistakeably English, which is exactly what I want.

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A (sadly very blurred) close up of…
A (sadly very blurred) close up o…
A (sadly still pretty badly blurre…
A (sadly still pretty badly blurr…
photo by: ulysses