(james benedict brown) on the road

Call in sick, head to London

Posted in Posts by James Benedict Brown on 4 March, 2008

Travel broadens the lungs. Excusing myself early from my weekly studio tutorials, I headed to London on Thursday. Unable to complete a long overdue letter, and prevaricating beyond acceptable boundaries, it was time for me to head south and have some long overdue conversations.

I also had time to make some social calls. A midday train from Sheffield to London brought me into St. Pancras in the early afternoon, and with the re-discovered energy of someone who was briefly a Londoner, I strode through the newly re-opened St. Pancras and into the tube station. Surrounded by flustered and confused tourists, freshly arrived from Paris, Brussels and Lille, I loaded up my Oyster card and descended to the Victoria line. From intercity train to underground train took less than five minutes, and just one stop later I was above ground again, leaving Highbury & Islington station for an afternoon in the crit rooms of London Metropolitan University. The buzz of being back in the biggest of our cities was like a caffeine rush; my head was dizzy, my legs were stretching further and my lungs were breathing deeper.

Sitting in on the interim presentations of other architecture schools is a handy diversion for a final year student. I spent much of the presentations making notes; not on the projects being presented, but on my own. A few drawing styles and model techniques were noted in my sketchbook for future reference. Nothing is original after all.

I’m extremely grateful to GH and SR for their ever flowing hospitality. I spent two nights on the comfiest of sofas; one above a Methodist chapel and one below a German hunting horn. Fine home cooked food was consumed, some northern ale was cheekily drunk amongst southern lager nancies and a handful of familiar bus routes were ridden.  London always looms large in my plans as a city with a sometimes irresistible draw. The culture, the money, the opportunity. But I’m still not convinced. £x more per hour does not necessarily balance the £y more one spends on everything from beer to council tax. Being able to visit does one some good from time to time, but not as much as it does to leave.

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