Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter in the UK

I’m spending Easter in the UK and, before returning to my hometown of Oxford, I broke the journey with a night in London catching up with old friends. Living in London last year I remember being crammed into a corner on the tube and thinking how desperate I was to move from this city to a more relaxed and refined lifestyle in Paris. Now that I have realised that lifestyle it is, of course, a classic case of the grass being so much greener in London once again. I spent the whole day seeing as many people as possible and thinking to myself how refreshing it was to have people wait for you to get off before swarming onto the tube themselves. By comparison people are decent in London: They hold doors for you, they wait at zebra crossings and are generally far more polite than in Paris.

The ‘buzz’ in London is also another factor worth mentioning. We went out on a Monday night, probably the quietest night of the week, and yet still found the streets thronged with people, the bars and clubs busy enough to provide a good atmosphere and the various sandwich shops and burger restaurants open all through the night to satiate those post-alcohol munchies. I took full advantage of this and bought a delicious sandwich from Subway before getting the night bus, followed by a salt beef bagel from an all night workers’ cafe along the Bethnal Green Road on the walk from the bus stop home. This scenario is about as far removed as possible from the lonely walks I have made, even on a weekend, with no taxis in sight, from Bastille to Gare de l’Est craving some hot food but knowing that the only thing available at such an hour is the cold pasta in the fridge at home.

Back in Oxford, driving along the familiar roads to have lunch with an ex-colleague or drinks with an old friend I found some old CDs in the glove compartment which instantly transported me back to my Uni days. Oxford is full of memories. Very little changes but it will always have a rather bittersweet value because of that. My schoolboy self walked the same streets and went to the same shops, whilst at Uni I drove along the same dual carriageways and went to the same clubs and I even used the same routes each day on my commute to and from my first job. Although it feels as though I’ve left it behind somewhat, I know I can come home and it will always feel relaxing and safe.