Thursday 28 February 2013

Memory Lane

When I went to the Smoke last month for the exam board meeting, I had, astonishingly, a whole free morning. It is rare to have free time during the day in London as I am invariably there for meeting someone or some people, so it was a real treat. I toyed with the idea of London Aquarium until I realised the price has risen considerably since 2000 (whodathunkit) so instead I wandered up to my old university precincts to see the new building and generally wander around.


We were based at this end of Senate House, and in a house on Russell Square. The library was in Senate House, though, so I spent more time there, or in the bigger UL library with the massive stack. When I read Dominion last month, the Nazi German Embassy was sited in Senate House. It wasn't difficult to picture it.

We used to sit on that grass to the left before or after lectures some time. Obviously not when there was snow on the ground.


In my final year I took a Travel Writing module. There were seven of us, and three lecturers. The university didn't much like that ratio and sometimes we didn't have a classroom to meet in, so we had lectures in the basement of this cafe a few times. They did very delicious cakes. I can't remember what I used to drink, as it was before I drank coffee; half of us used to smoke through the lecture. It felt very bohemian, and as though we should have berets and cigarette holders. Now I think we probably just looked like a bunch of pretentious undergrads.


This sunken park is between the cafe and Senate House. The day before the final exam for the Travel Writing module, we sat here and revised. I remember Julia asking me what secondary sources I had studied, and me looking blankly at her. This was a month before I graduated; not my finest hour. In my defence I think I might have been a bit scatty from over-cramming. I believe I wrote about this incident on this blog at the time, because it sent me into a blind panic.


Mecca - though it was Dillons back then. I remember spending hours browsing. When I finished my finals I went in and bought Bill Bryson books, which I had avoided but wanted to read all through the travel writing course (he hadn't covered eastern Europe at that point). I never finished them.


The vagaries of 12-month leases really brought out the nesting instinct in me. I longed for a lottery win (though I very rarely bought a ticket) so I could buy a flat here. I had it all planned out. It had to have three bedrooms and I sometimes wandered along the furniture shops on Tottenham Court Road and picked out furniture for it.


For the second and third year I lived on the Northern Line, so this was my tube station. In various drafts of my dire and unpublishable and unfinished novel, this tube station features several times. Usually there was someone waiting outside it for me, with varying consequences. In real life there was never anybody waiting outside it for me, except the Evening Standard man who I knew well enough to say hello to, if memory serves.


This is the new HQ of my old college. It was opened a while ago but I have never been for a look. I think it suits the place really well - we always were a bit quirky.

And fnally...


You can still spot a halls bedroom a mile away.

1 comment:

Burhan Ali said...

Ah, those first pictures make me nostalgic for my time in the area too.