When I was twenty-two,
It was a very good year,
It was a very good year for independent life,
And nights in London town,
We rarely felt down,
And had great things to do,
When I was twenty-two
Thus Ervin Drake’s song (popularised by Frank Sinatra) would have gone, had the composer of “It Was A Very Good Year” benefited from my support as lyricist.
The academic year of 2009-2010 has now come and gone, and I believe my time in London was not only well spent but also great fun.
Between work and play, squirrels and pigeons, Irish and Indian, cuisine and grub, it was a wonderful blend of smiles and tears (well, not quite) from mid-September to end of June.
Continue reading Bye Bye London
Something is in the air, one might say. Or perhaps something about it speaks directly to my inner self. Whatever the reason, London never ceases to surprise me in a positive way, and feelings of attachment have grown within the heart of a person otherwise indifferent to large cities.
Another poet’s soul captured by an immortal city, perhaps? I did write a poem about the Serpentine lake, a magnet pulling all visitors towards its shores in Hyde Park and the Kensington Gardens:
Glitter, glitter, Serpentine,
May your birdsong grow, may your surface shine
In the light of day, you have frozen time
With an air so sweet that it tastes sublime
Whisper, whisper, Serpentine,
Such a mystic view makes you seem divine
When you speak to the trees, to the rose and lime,
Nature bows to the sound of your glorious chime
Remember, remember, Serpentine,
I shall always cherish this memory of mine.
It is worth stating that the mere writing of a poem about a place is not enough for me to fall in love with the place. As such, we must dig deeper to understand my sudden appreciation of this metropolis.
Continue reading Two weeks later, still intrigued
It’s been just over 50 hours since I arrived in London, but I have already taken a liking to where I am, the Hampstead Residence, and to the inner parts of the city, where I’ll be studying.
On the one side of the Hampstead Residence, walking for one minute will land you amidst Aston Martins, Jaguars and even the odd Rolls Royce, in an area of architectural magnificence. Rich, peaceful and quiet are the adjectives one might attribute to this zone.
On the other side, around Finchley Road, a squirrel hides from the busy traffic, seeking refuge in the green areas. The architecture is no longer grand but more heterogeneous, and during the 15-minute walk separating the Hampstead Residence from Finchley Road Tube Station (10 if you keep a good pace), residential areas mingle with shops.
Supermarkets are generally also 15 minutes away at a “student” walking pace, which makes for good exercise if done regularly.
Continue reading Good-bye Brussels, Hello London!