“The English language is like London: proudly barbaric yet deeply civilised, too, common yet royal, vulgar yet processional, sacred yet profane. Each sentence we produce, whether we know it or not, is a mongrel mouthful of Chaucerian, Shakespearean, Miltonic, Johnsonian, Dickensian and American. Military, naval, legal, corporate, criminal, jazz, rap and ghetto discourses are mingled at every turn. The French language, like Paris, has attempted, through its Academy, to retain its purity, to fight the advancing tides of Franglais and international prefabrication. English, by comparison, is a shameless whore.”
― Stephen Fry, The Ode Less Travelled: Unlocking the Poet Within
I’m in love.
For about three weeks now I’ve been living in London. I knew I liked the place – I chose to move here after all – but it’s been even better than I had expected. Unlike the dozen times I’ve been here before – usually for between two days and a week – my stay here is now permanent, which makes it feel different. I’m not really in travel mode anymore; I cook at home (sometimes, and for certain values of “cook”), tourists have started asking me for directions (what spidey sense do they use to spot “locals”? is it the bowler hat?) and the bloody pedestrians that keep walking on the other side of the tunnel in the tube are starting to annoy me.
Londoners are an international bunch, and not as terribly reserved as their reputation makes them out to be, at least outside of public spaces. There are a handful of people here that I know, which is a great way to bootstrap my social circle. They’re not concentrated anywhere in particular, and the city is big enough that I don’t run into people who know me on every street corner. I don’t think I really understood how important that kind of anonymity is to me. It’s also good to challenge yourself and your insecurities sometimes; if anything can cure me of my shyness, it’s having to deal with lots of random strangers.
Waterstones in Oxford Street is heaven. I really should stay away from the place and stop compulsively buying more interesting books until I’ve worked my way through the current stack.
Beside that, there is enough to do here to keep me entertained. There are a handful pubs with interesting beers and people around the corner, restaurants and takeaway places in the next street over. If I so desired, I could spend every night at a good concert, play or meeting group for an obscure board game or programming language.