ah Nero’s

29 May

In the attempt to find something to put on this website, I may subject you to some bits which are definately not literature, but things which I found scribbled in the margins of my notes (in Nero’s in Blackwell’s more often than not). Hard at work, clearly…

Observations in Nero’s.

This is Oxford.

Next to a man sitting alone leafing through the Daily Mail there is a guy writing a text message with one hand and holding Milton in the other.

Two old ladies sit in the armchairs eating cake in silence. They have known each other for so long that talking is no longer really necessary. They’re sitting right next to a rowdy table of young ‘rah’ students in pashminas, relating stories to each other at the tops of their voices so that the whole little coffee shop community can hear. A girl sitting behind the old ladies is listening to them – I see her try to hide a smile as one of the rahs gets to her punch line.

A guy and a girl sit together at a table pouring over two huge textbooks and only exchanging the odd word.

A woman at the back of the shop is scribbling down something on a single sheet of paper with a biro, her latte abandoned, next to an older man typing on his laptop. The rahs burst into shrieks of laughter, and he shoots an irritated glare over his screen at the backs of their heads, as if a coffee shop should be expected to maintain the respectful silence of a library.

My eye catches a twenty-something who is sitting by the pillar just watching everybody else, and I think he has probably got the right idea.

Past the plastic plant on the windowsill I can see the heads of ancient philosophers circling the Bodleian. And I sit here with a book called “An Easy Guide to Factor Analysis”, a pen and a cappuccino, and allow myself a smile, having become somehow part of the charming absurdity of Oxford.

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