A year ago I arrived, fresh from the plane from Munich, still smelling of beer and sausages, at Northampton Square, eager to register at City Uni. I wandered, bewildered and, quite frankly, lost with all the other first day people.
Today I returned, no chance of getting lost, no need of a map, surrounded by eager faces all heading for registration or the red t-shirts of the ‘Free Campus Tour’ students or the many trestle tables set up with signs such as ‘How to join the Student Union’, ‘How to use the Library’ and ‘Free laptop insurance’ above them. For it is registration week once more.
I was there to hand in the two printed copies of my dissertation to Helen in the Programmes Office. Silly me. I thought being able to submit my work electronically was such a wonderful thing and that I wouldn’t have to spend mega-quid on getting the 98 page document printed and bound twice. How wrong I was.
I had a frantic couple of hours yesterday bartering with our local printer to get it quickly run off in time for me to take it up today. Fortunately he accepts files via email. I was then off first thing this morning to collect the copies, hop on a train and high tail it up to London. I have to admit, it looked quite good all prettily printed and slippery papered.
Once on the train I opened my saved treat and started reading it: Last Night in Twisted River by John Irving. I had almost weakened last night and peeked into it. but I was strong. I waited. The train trip into town was over all too quickly as I immersed myself in the life of loggers in 1954. Irving is SO brilliant.
What will possibly be one of my last trips on the number 4 bus proved equally quick, as the pages of my novel flew by.
Having successfully delivered my package, I was off to meet Mirinda for lunch, it being a Wednesday. Apparently I need to smarten up. My casual, holiday-like attire is embarrassing her. She said if I continued to dress like a mad artist in Tahiti at the turn of the 20th century, we’d have to meet well away from her office. Next week I’ll wear a suit. I think the looks I get are of jealousy. Mirinda calls me eccentric. Eccentricity is a small price to pay for comfort, if you ask me!
Anyway, we went to Pod today. A chain (I assume it is a chain, anyway) of little lunchtime eateries that specialises in healthy Thai food in little containers called ‘mini-pods’. We had green curry chicken which was fantastic. Just the right amount and delicious on the palate. I thoroughly recommend it.
We then went for our customary walk, this time around the seedier parts of Tower Hamlets. We ended up on Brick Lane, the Bangladeshi capital of London. Even the street signs are in English and Sandskrit. It’s a thriving place. The sort of area you feel you’d like to explore but not at night. I could be wrong.
To get there, we wandered through a typical dour council estate which had an interesting arch, originally been built by Four Per Cent Industrial Dwellings Company Ltd in 1886. It was built by a bunch of Jewish-Anglo philanthropists as a form of cure for the slum dwellings in the Jewish Quarter of London. The original buildings that went with the arch were pulled down in 1970 and the council estate built instead. if you want to read about it, you can visit here.
Brick Lane is so named because of a huge brickworks that once successfully created its wares from somewhere along it. The rich clay of the Thames banks was perfect for bricks (apparently) and so they renamed the street after them (it was originally Whitechapel Lane) back in the 15th century. There was also a lot of successful brewing in the 17th century.
It has been home to many types of immigrants but latterly is home to Bangladeshi’s. The history is quite interesting and can be found on Wikipedia, here. Most interesting is that one of the Whitechapel Murders of which Jack the Ripper was accused, took place just at the end of Brick Lane. In the photo below, Osborn Road, where it happened, is just beyond the taxi. The body and police tape has long since vanished and now the whole place is full of bustle and hum.
We gradually made our way back to the Gherkin where Mirinda went to a meeting and I made my way back to Waterloo for home, devouring more John Irving on the way.
I’m supposed to be having a Nicktor Night tonight and found a John Irving quote which I thought was somewhat apt:
“Ketchum and your dad liked to drink together,” Jane told young Dan. “I don’t know what it is that men like about drinking together, but Ketchum and your dad liked it a little too much.”
Says it all ,really.