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From this year's 'Love Letters to London' writing competition, sponsored by Almacantar, Footwork and Stiff+Trevillion.

Full details of the winners and runners up are here.

You can buy our printed booklet of all of the winning and placed entries here (£6.50 for members, £7.50 non members. P+P included). Or you can get the PDF version to download here.

If you'd like information on the next 'Love Letters' competition, enter your details here, and we'll be in touch later in the year.

Ash Torbica

magic (one thousand, five hundred and seventy-two kilometres squared)

There’s magic in the air. 

Not literally, as much as I wish that to be true, but figuratively. 

There’s magic in the way the rumble of the bus engine isn’t overwhelming in the slightest; I sit at the back and find there is a security, a safety in the deep vibrations that rumble in my chest. I’m lost in thoughts, wondering about an old friend, while as little as four miles away, there is a hospital and somewhere in there, a baby has just taken their first breath. 

There’s magic in how so many different lives, so many stories are just there, waiting to be told.

There’s magic in the way a girl walks down the street, her lilt ever so slightly off compared to the rush around her so it's clear she's moving in tandem to a beat only she can hear. There’s a magic in it; in how for a moment I am so entranced with her that I wonder what it is, what lyrics she sings silently along to, but the lights turn green and the bus moves on; her figure disappearing from sight, but still there. 

Still dancing. 

There’s magic in how all the traffic is utter chaos (don’t we know it) yet there is some semblance of order; we move just as if we simply breathe, the cogs in a forever ticking clock. There’s a magic in how we may not know each other but we certainly know our London and thus maybe we do know each other. 

Through this city we all share.

There’s magic in how tourists will stop and stare wide eyed at the glimpses of gothic architecture peeking through glass skyscrapers. Glimpses of the past, something charming between today’s modern age. And there’s magic in how we travel through time, to ages unknown, with a simple step around the corner, a glance skywards. 

There's magic in all we don’t know, in the differences that both define us and bring us together. Murals on red brick walls, smells which entice and intrigue you, and the sound of a busker’s folk song. It’s magical how there are different cultures living together in one spot; as if all the world is on a single street.

And there’s magic, a magic that is something soft and gentle, when you go back to that area you have lived in your whole life. Where you know the streets that to others may merely be ink on a map, yet for you each road holds a memory. Where you know the people, perhaps not by name, but you know them all the same.

And there’s magic in how all of this, all of us, all our stories, intertwine and fit into an area of one thousand, five hundred and seventy two kilometres squared.