My life feels a bit like a series of TV reruns at the moment, as I’ve come back to home, Oxford and Berlin within the space of a month. These various returns have been wonderful in very many ways but, at times, the rude intrusion of reality into the much-anticipated fairyland of Home has left me feeling a touch bereft, especially as I’m still missing my Montpellier life and friends. The term “reverse culture-shock” gets bandied about a lot, and I think it springs from the strangeness of realising that your expectations of home were just as inaccurate as those of your temporary destination. Philosophising aside, here’s a rundown of what I’ve been up to…
Back to the Shire
The big homecoming has been to my actual home in darkest Herefordshire, UK. I’ve absolutely revelled in going into shops that have ALL the English sweets (to the extent that I’ve seriously embarassed hapless companions by jumping up and down and pointing), as well as finding the drizzly “summer” weather endearing rather than infuriating. It’s also been great to catch up with my family, and I’ve been basking in the luxury of things regularly not falling on my head; there really is a lot to be said for living in a Proper Grownup house full of things like food and working shower curtains. That said, my return to Herefordshire has reminded me how little time it takes me to go completely stir-crazy when I’m stranded, carless, in a village with literally no public transport.
Even my unmitigated joy at being reunited with my cats has been slightly marred by the advent of summer, which means the sacrificial-offering-of-small-animal-intestines rate is up to at least two a day. My patience was especially tested when I woke to find an incomprehensibly large amount of furry vomit draped lovingly across my windowsill and floor. This delight was then supplemented by the discovery of a mummified bird slowly turning to dust on top of my wardrobe, having supposedly decayed totally unnoticed by my family in all the months they spent watching TV in my room. I smell a rat. Or rather, a rotting sparrow. Still, there’s nothing quite like curling up in bed with a purring cat, even if you did just see it crush a baby rabbit’s skull with its teeth.
|The cat-human heirarchy is summed up in the above cartoon.|
I’ve spent the rest of my time clearing out monumental quantities of flea-market tat from my room, as well as working for Mum and Dad’s shepherds’ huts company (www.hollowash.co.uk), and procrastinating from revision by playing the piano for up to five hours a day – now why wasn’t I that motivated when I still had a chance of becoming a child genius?
|Other notable happenings at home include the Hay Festival, at which I saw a bunch of talks, plus hilarious standup shows by Marcus Brigstocke and Bill Bailey. Much middle-class fun was had by all.|
Back to Oxford
I spent two weeks kipping on various people’s floors in Oxford in order to make the most of post-finals celebrations with the many friends who are abandoning me next year. Summery exploits included punting, exploring and visiting several thousand pubs; Pimms is another thing that I will never again take for granted. The most surreal event was when, on a walk along the towpath, Isabel and I almost literally bumped into some stragglers from what I assume was World Naked Bike Ride (look it up, it is a thing.) In proper British fashion, we behaved as if absolutely nothing was out of the ordinary until we were well out of sight.
Back to Berlin
Oh, and I seem to have started following the world cup. Yes, the football world cup. The one where they kick a ball around for some interminable period of time and then an arbitrary group of people cheer a lot. Shockingly, I’ve been quite enjoying it, partially due to the fact that I recently tried to learn to play and can actually follow what’s going on, and partially due to the aliens who have clearly taken over my body and changed my entire personality. Either way, it’s a good way of joining in with German culture.
|Really, everyone watches it. The identical, simultaneous reactions of the men at the bar to every event in the game were a sight to behold. Incidentally, vuvuzelas (and teenagers) are the scourge of the earth and should be banned from the S-Bahn.|
Back to School
|The double edged sword of technology: the problem with hiding from awkward first conversations behind a smartphone is that it does tend to prevent any conversations at all.|
Back to reality
|There’s a certain sadness in coming back to old haunts, only to realise that your experience of them will necessarily have changed. But then, where’s the fun in living life on repeat?|