Growing old disgracefully

As predicted yesterday’s wedding was magnificent in every way. The weather gods were smiling and there was barely a cloud in the sky. The church was beautiful, the reception venue stunning. But nothing and nobody was as radiant as the bride herself – just as it should be.

As the sun beat down the champagne flowed, followed by wine with the wedding breakfast, and by the time 10pm rolled around it was unanimously declared to be jagerbomb time, though everybody had drunk more than enough. There was dancing and much merriment…and then there was today.

Waking up at half past six in the dress you wore to the wedding with the bedroom lit up like the Blackpool illuminations is rather disconcerting. What’s more disconcerting still is having no memory of getting back to your accommodation. And what’s even more disconcerting than that is the grim realisation you have an unavoidable three hour drive ahead of you.

After downing some water and eating a hearty fry up I hit the road, convinced once I got going I’d feel better. Not so. Shortly after leaving the bed and breakfast, in fact, I was forced to pull over and eject the aforementioned fry up on the side of a country lane – watched by a herd of unimpressed cows. Clambering back into the car and convinced that now I’d feel much better, I continued on my way.

After almost an hour of driving around narrow country roads I entered a village and my heart sank – it was the same village I’d driven through forty minutes earlier. I had, in fact, been driving around in a circle. As this realisation sank in my body decided to eject another bit of fry up for good measure. This was rapidly descending into the journey from hell. Not only was I overwhelmed with insatiable nausea, I was also now stuck in the countryside, in my very own version of Groundhog Day.

Of course there was no mobile phone reception, so when I saw the first car in what felt like hours I flagged it down and asked for directions. As I spoke the man inside regarded me with a bemused smile – it was only afterwards when I looked in the mirror I realised my hair was sticking out at right angles to my head and I had sick on my top.

Fortunately I did eventually make it out of the maze that is the Shropshire countryside, and four and a half hours later I arrived, dishevelled and grumpy, at my parents’ house, where mother saw fit to point out that I’m far too old to behave like this. And I realised I’d left my shoes in Shropshire.

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“He who tires of London tires of life”

When you live in one of the most famous cities in the world it’s surprisingly easy to forget the myriad reasons why it’s so famous. The views, of course, are self-evident (nothing beats the London skyline as dusk falls over the South Bank), but it’s the hundreds (if not thousands) of attractions, exhibitions, walking tours, wine tastings, cake makings, tea drinkings, secret supper clubs, underground speakeasys [sic] and quirky activities that often get disregarded by the folk who reside here.

Why? Because, after spending five days of the week battling through the crowds on public transport to and from the office – not to mention attempting to juggle catching up with friends, working late and working out – they’re usually too exhausted and/or hungover to do anything other than throw themselves into an arm chair with a cold beer and vegetate for two days.

Most city workers don’t even contemplate a trip to the National Gallery, a cruise on the Clipper boat from Greenwich or a cocktail making master class on their long-awaited weekends. Or, if they do contemplate it, it’s usually too late in the day to actually make it a reality.

And on those rare occasions when they do have the energy for a weekend excursion it’s usually to somewhere outside of London – because after the week they’ve had the last thing they want to do is run the gauntlet of tourists in Piccadilly or Oxford Circus, or any of those other tourist meccas.

But Londoners really should take the time to appreciate the city in which they live. Especially the young professionals who know their time here is limited, that they’ll move on in a few years when another opportunity – possibly the desire to start a family – presents itself. Because it’s often only when you leave a place that you realise how incredible it really was – and feel nostalgic for the things you never did, even though you had the chance.

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