Thursday, May 26, 2011

Living in London

[insert usual apologies for neglecting blog here]

I have now been in London some 8 months which I suppose is long enough to feel somewhat settled. As I spent a fair amount of my early twenties agonising over whether I should really be spending quite so large a portion of my life in the rarefied atmosphere of Cambridge, and yearning for the-grass-is-greener 'Real World', it is reassuring to find that life in London is, after all, rather jolly good (although the literal grass is definitely not as manicured as Cambridge's).

How my time is spent, in order of decreasing average number of hours spent/week:

A taxi driver told me once that this phrase "covered all manner of sins", but I will try to cover my sheepishness at now being a "management consultant". The glaring difference in 'cool factor' between being a marine biologist and a management consultant is by no means lost on me, but I remain convinced that it was the right choice. My new profession would have me now come up with "three killer reasons" why this is so, and despite my best attempts to be contrary it is in fact three that spring to mind:

As advertised on the tin
1. This job is a fantastic way to broaden your horizons. I now know far, far more about Industries X, Y and Z than I ever thought I would, and my understanding of how this society works, and how people work, is the better for it.
2. My work now actually requires me to talk to people, probably more than my introversion would have me do naturally, which is great -- because people here (both colleagues and clients) are interesting folk by and large, hugely supportive, friendly, and come with a rather refreshing lack of academic pseudo-autism.

As not advertised on the tin (or at least advertised in smaller font)
3. For all that we get criticised for going in and telling people what they already know, in at least some of the work I've done I have felt a massive sense of service. To help people see how they can make things close to their hearts really happen, to do it with a sense that they always come first, to see my work making a difference to individuals -- this is more satisfying that I ever thought it would be.

I have been incredibly lucky such that 8 hours is not a problem to obtain; I also for the first time in my life have a real-sized bed rather than a college single; I have slept on said real-sized bed far more than the 'jetset' consultant lifestyle might have allowed (the furthest away I have worked is Birmingham!) -- all good things.

I live in West Hampstead and am quite a fan of the Jubilee line no matter how we like to moan about it (although last week's peak hour delay due to a "loose screw" was probably cutting it fine). It takes me half an hour to the office, so I don't much mind it really. Also love the 139 bus, particularly as on the way home from late nights in Soho it deposits me about 30 metres from the door!

The awesomeness of living in a big city means that there is a neverending supply of fantastic restaurants to discover, many of them neighbourhood gems rather than glitzy Michelin starred pretentiousness. Quickly becoming favourites: Tamada (Georgian, giant xiao long bao!), Saracino (best Italian meats ever), Atari-ya (great sushi, and even has a cheap and cheerful takeaway joint near Selfridges), Koya (uber bouncy tasty udon near office), Miyama (who needs Nobu for miso black cod), Toresano (taste of Spain), Japan Centre (how does the itsu next door survive), Phoenix Palace (old standby for comforting quality dim sum), the Gallery (great Sunday roasts, always good for a drink) etc. Also had the fortune of visiting lots of great cocktail places all with some kind of clever name or other which I can't really remember now -- Experimental Cocktail Club was very tasty, and had a great birthday night at B@1 recently where the staff are fantastic and they do a mean espresso martini.

Rather hungry now, perhaps I'll be back in another year to write about London Pt II? :)