Ciara Kenny

The Irish Times forum by and for Irish citizens living overseas,

‘The biggest threat to enjoying London is loneliness’

Bringing his dog Harry helped comedian John Lynn feel at home in the ‘gargantuan’ city

Tue, Apr 1, 2014, 12:00


John Lynn

My dog looked distraught as my sister drove me out of our driveway, bound for London town. Like countless others leaving the island, I had held him close and told him I’d send for him once I’d a place for us to live and bobs in the account.

The boys I share with took some convincing, but eventually agreed to a trial period of four weeks and so he arrived in London one Sunday. I dropped my bags off, and introduced my housemates to Harry at the door. Knowing he’d be nervous if left with strangers, I took him with me to the shops and paid a kid on the street to hold his leash while I ventured inside the supermarket. When I emerged, the visibly shaken kid handed me an empty collar and leash, muttering “facking pitpulls innit, he ran for his life man”.

After 25 minutes of panicked pursuit I returned home to enlist my housemates in the search party. To my amazement the dog was there, reclining on my bed without a care in the world. Having been at my house for mere moments, he found his way back to the door and barked until one of the lads let him in. He then went room to room till he recognised my scent, hopped up on the bed and had a kip. All the while I was running through the streets of east London like someone canvassing to be sectioned. From that moment the boys loved him. Sometimes things work out for you.

That’s the way I feel about London. My only experience with the city had been a six-week run as an actor in Fishamble’s production of Robert Massey’s Rank, in the Tricycle theatre in Kilburn. While a truly enriching experience professionally, the sheer scale of the city intimidated me. My enthusiasm to stay on once the play came down waned by the day.

Pining for Dublin, it’s cosy familiarity, the likelihood of meeting a friend or acquaintance while ambling down Grafton Street, the fact that publicans whose establishments I frequented knew me by name, became quite profound. Most Irish I meet in this city agree that the biggest threat to enjoying it is loneliness. London is gargantuan. I have come to see it not as a city, but as a country made up of multitudes of little towns.

To combat this, I got a place on the street my close friend and fellow actor Keith McErlean lives. We don’t see each other daily, but to know there is someone at the end of the road for a coffee or pint makes a world of difference.

John Lynn is an actor and comedian from Drogheda. He will be performing his new stand-up show at the London Irish Centre in Camden this Saturday, April 5th at 7.30pm. It is the first in the London Irish Comedy Festival’s Edinburgh Preview Season, featuring a double bill of Irish comedians road testing their material before the August fringe festival. See for details.