The one and only...

The one and only,

I fell in love with you aged 5 when I'd get excited in the backseat of the car, looking for the huge cat on the high street! Who knew that I'd grow to love you even more than I did back then?

You've transformed my life and given me so much to be thankful for. You reaffirmed that I was raised well, a decent human being who cares for everyone, from everywhere. You also remind me every day that patience is not my most admirable trait - but I'm working on it! You've given me opportunity to explore who I really am and you've always accepted me for everything that I do, everything that I stand for. You've watched me laugh so hard I had to lie down, and cry until there were no tears left. You've guided me home on more occasions than I care to count and watched me make my biggest mistakes - you knew they making me the man I am today. You're wise.

You've introduced me to some of the most amazing people in my life and I am forever grateful for that, I can't thank you enough. Without you I wouldn't have my husband or most of my best friends. I wouldn't have met the people who believed in me and encouraged me to move forward when sometimes I wanted to stay still, or hide.

It's not always been amazing though, there have been dark days. The day I left you to go to my Dad for the final time. That day in July 2005 when we took to the streets after the attacks, not knowing what had happened or where we were all going. The time we faced homophobic abuse on the night bus. The day I wanted to run away, and never come back...

I've always sung your praises though, you're my favourite and I can never get enough of you - without you I wouldn't be who I am today! There would be no SMASH... and that's why we have your name in ours!

London you are perfect for me. It's been 17 sweet years and I'd like to say thank you. You've been there through everything and I hope to hold your hand for many more years to come.

It's not just people who change us, places are just as powerful. And you, London, you're the most powerful of them all. Of all the cities in the world, you're the one and only.

Happy 17th anniversary 💙

Ash

P.S. SMASH London reader, the big cat is the cat on the high street in Catford! My Dad was from Bromley so we used to visit family every year, and my highlight (other than seeing my Nan!) was always seeing the huge cat on the drive back home! I'd stare at it until it disappeared from sight. Then we would head towards Tower Bridge - my favourite landmark in the world 😍