There’s a peculiar visual sense that living in a large city gives you. Everything is foreshortened. The buildings loom over you. The constant presence of cars, cyclists, other people leaves a cramped sense of space, an eternal end-of-your-nose vigilance. Perhaps more so in London, home now for a decade, with its high density of low-level housing, its crumbling infrastructure, its ancient alleyways and winding streets. You get a different sense of space again new, or planned cities. New York with it criss-crossing avenues, the giant building all seeming to reflect our own image back to us. Paris has its wide…

At some point at the end of last year I became overwhelmed by the feeling that my life had reached an impasse. I had been feeling increasingly precarious, unmoored from my immediate social surroundings; the life I had tried so hard to construct for myself seems to be slowly crumbling around me. I was in my early 30s, listless and unsatisfied. Many of my generation are, perhaps. Yet where many of my peers are filled with both learned as well as inherited cultural capital, with the attendant familial stability whose anchors keep them from floating too far, I no such…

I must have been nine or ten when it happened. It was getting dark, the low light fading across the fields, barely enough to illuminate the playground. My memory now is fuzzy, I haven’t been back to the area for nearly two decades, and the vast expanse of grass surrounding me must be a childish exaggeration. But I remember the cat, a dappled ginger and white tabby, coming close to us inquisitively. Adam, my best friend at the time, grabbed its tail and held it aloft as it fought to free itself from his grasp. I stood back and laughed…

John Merrick

John Merrick is a writer living in London, and an editor at Verso Books. https://www.clippings.me/johnmerrick

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