The airport bus was late, so the irate faces of the would-be passengers told me. The driver however, did apologise for the lateness, on the grounds of “people not being able to drive properly”. And then it was yet another 50 minutes from London Stansted to the town centre.
Cambridge seems to typify the posh bit of the so-called ‘Englishness’.
I found that its open spaces achingly beautiful, its grounds almost sacred (almost like Edinburgh with Hyde Park built in) but infuriatingly elitist, its city centre small and after a while…dare I say..boring.Punting is the highly-rated pastime and the order of the day. One punter tried to imitate a Venetian gondolier’s sense of romance (and failed miserably) by singing a cloister song in Latin.
Maybe boredom really does drive one to do crazy stuff.
Many colleges were closed because of exams and the more famous ones like Kings College and Trinity College, now charge for admission because of the wealth of history they carry and the number of tourists who regularly flock to soak it all in – those buggers.
But with so much history and such academic vibes floating around, the tourists keep coming and will definitely pay, at least that’s what Archway Bed and Breakfast’s owner Mrs Skingley says. I was given a room that overlooked their gorgeous garden, courtesy of her husband. It was definitely nicer than what I had expected, and rightly so, seeing as the hostel I was supposed to be putting up at, had actually caught fire the day before in a case of suspected arson.
By the time the next day rolled around, I had probably covered its centre 4 times by foot, and have entered and exited its circular core as many times as it has its entrances. (The heavy rain made it even more English-ly unpleasant) But this trip was after all, meant to be a research trip and there I was, standing at the cusp of …well, I hoped desperately that I wouldn’t embarrass myself after having caught a bad throat infection the day before. I croaked loudly miserably – it was toadlike, I swear – , testing the voice many times during the morning, wishing for some kind of a healing miracle.
I resolutely marched down to Huntingdon Road (where the famous professor RC and his equally famous wife live, both of whom teach in Cambridge’s department of classics), only to find the interview interrupted by a security set-up man. Their house had been burgled and in Cambridge, so said the prof, “they go after computers”. I was ushered into his study – an amazingly large room with wall to wall bookshelves and a harpsichord – and was surprised to see how spry he was with a computer despite his advanced age. He said he was just starting to learn the harpsichord, and had to practice everyday.
Talking to him was like talking to an encyclopaedia. I just couldn’t imagine the amount that his mind holds, and how much the years of study have added on. His wife, a sharp-tongued, somewhat brassy and confident, well-spoken middle-aged (and rather intimidating) woman with no qualms about swearing, walked in half-way and demanded his opinion about the security man.
I think I am starting to become her tentative fan. Let me read her blog first and then decide from there.