How do you form meaningful friendships in the loneliest city in the world?

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I’m in a quaint little west London pub, perched on a stool.

Cider in hand, chicken and leek pie with mash on its way, I’m nodding along as my new friend Corey tells me about her office nemesis. We’re deep into personal revelations by now, because this is at least our fourth friendship date. We’ve covered all the essentials: our feelings about love, favourite dog breeds, our strong opinions on Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. We met doing a work thing and then casually, courageously, stealthily moved into friendship territory with a WhatsApp emoji exchange, a coffee, a walk in the park and an afternoon at the cinema. We’ve reached that level of friendship where we fully expect one another to attend birthday dinners, be transparent about our mental health and support each other’s decision to have pancakes at 3pm on a Saturday. 

My friendship with Corey was part of a larger befriending campaign for me. I have become, by necessity, a serial befriender. Almost exactly three years ago I moved from Sydney to London on my own. I’d just got out of a seven-year relationship and come to the end of a job, so naturally I got on a plane and put 10,500 miles between myself and everything I knew. The drizzle, the proximity to continental Europe, the history in every sandstone building — I was enchanted by it all. But I knew almost immediately that London would make me feel small, that it was a great rollicking big city with a reputation for silence on public transport and a typically British sort of stoicism. 

Read more at The Evening Standard.