I am constantly asked which city I prefer, London or Dubai. I struggle to find a comprehensive answer to this question, but after a recent trip back to the UK, I have a story that perfectly illustrates the unique magic that is London.
It was a random Monday night in May, and I was in Leicester Square trying to see a movie called Charlie Casanova. Unbeknownst to me, there was a huge premiere happening the same night at the same time, so when I arrived it was pandemonium. As it turned out it was the star-studded opening night of the film Snow White and the Huntsman starring Charlize Theron, Kristen Stewart and the handsome Nordic-looking guy who played Thor in The Avengers.
Ironically, the line of girls were probably waiting for Kristen Stewart, who has a special place in teenagers' hearts from the Twilight Saga. All the ensuing chaos of the gathering of Hollywood celebrities was as annoying to me as it was unexpectedly exciting as I tried to negotiate with security guards to get to the cinema I intended to visit. But my cinema was closed so I found myself stuck in the crowd right by the barrier feeling frustrated.
Suddenly, I was next to Ms Theron. It was quite a surreal moment as I gazed upon a familiar and stunningly beautiful face. I was just breathing the moment in when I was blinded by the explosion of photographers' flash guns. As I came round, I realised that I might be seen as just a regular punter who wants to stare at celebrities… and I pride myself on not being that guy!
So my instinct was to get away; while everyone else was surging towards me to get closer to Hollywood, I was fighting against the tide going the other way. As I made my way against the crowd into a side street I felt the relief of freedom.
That's when I experienced another moment of complete madness that could only happen in London, which is the complete antithesis of the high-gloss celebrity event just seconds away around a corner. There was a crazy guy sitting on the floor with a huge traffic cone between his legs, which he was using as an impromptu trumpet playing Moon River at an ear-bleeding volume. And right next to him, there was an even-crazier guy obviously not living in the same world as the rest of us, screaming and punching a big metal Men-At-Work traffic sign.
If I could have captured the moment in a bottle, and sold it as a fragrance, it would be the best example of what makes London so different from Dubai!