About two years and two months ago I arrived in Oxford from Canterbury (via a few months in sunny Weston). Today, I arrive in London, which I’m going to assume is a lot like Oxford, except about 100 times bigger, a bit dirtier, and full of knives.
I’m sorry to be leaving Oxford. Unlike Canterbury, I’d not really had a chance to get fed up with the place, and given the profusion of excellent cafés and parks and the like, I think it was possible that I’d never get fed up with it — in fact, I have to go back there about three months from now for eye-related reasons and am already planning on making a little holiday of it.
Living in Oxford has been very easy — my life had settled down into a routine of eating out every weekend for breakfast and lunch, trips to the cinema, wanders around local greeneries, and so on. It was probably too easy, come to think of it. I’ve not really been going anywhere — it’s been more of a retirement than anything else. It’s sad (but true) that most of the people in Oxford who will note my absence are not friends I’ve made but anonymous waiters and waitresses, and they won’t even know my name — they’ll only remember me as the guy who would, for instance, come in every weekend and order french toast with bacon, a Baby Joe smoothie and a double espresso.
With this in mind, it’s probably good that I’m moving somewhere that will force me to be a bit more active and social. There will be plenty of time for living like a retiree when I’m actually retired, and hopefully it will be a retirement where I live as Peter O’Toole does in Venus — smoothly lecherous, sweet-talking the student population with my educated ways — and not a retirement as forseen by the likes of George Monbiot, where I’m waist deep in glacier run-off.
I probably won’t miss the students. On the one hand, the presence of a large student population in any town or city gives the place a very energetic feel, and being Oxford the students all tend to be wealthy, young, slim, beautiful people who always take the time to match their boots with their scarves, but — Jesus! — you try sharing a small branch of Tescos and see how long it takes before you’re wishing for fiery death to rain down upon them.
So, I will miss the place. I will miss all the different places I found to have good coffee. I will miss the overhanging tree by the church on High Street, propped up by a large iron girder and, as I write this, blossoming beautifully. I will miss breakfast at Joe’s, and lazy days in the University Parks. I will miss wishing I’d been a student there.
Hopefully, I’ll find enough in London to take my mind off things. I’m sure there’s a few places you can get coffee here, but we’ll have to see how it goes.