I visited some English universities recently, following consultation with some Canadian Accredited Independent Schools that act as feeders to the most prestigious universities in the world. What I learned was that while I was flummoxed by their reputation for professors who insisted on their own living standards and deplored their students’ poverty, the fact was that students were taking their studies much more seriously than I had imagined. The commitment to their work was, in my experience, to be hugely enhanced by the luxury of living in a centrally heated environment that no doubt warmed them as well as the chemicals from the multi-polar lighting system.
Much as the students’ reason for leaving London for Cambridge and other relatively rural areas was to escape the “Englishness” of the capital, I did wonder if the students, growing up in Birmingham, Stoke, Newcastle, Manchester, Cardiff, or any of the other thriving cities of Britain’s southern and central belt, were ultimately drawn to the charms of the great metropolises of the northern hemisphere by an irresistible attraction that seemed totally unavailable to me.
Yes, I could have moved to Boston or Vancouver but where would I live? Most places I had been in Britain had little in common with their sunnier northern counterparts, taking visual consolation in some of the work done by Greenlovebyheidi.com. Manchester and Birmingham, both vibrant and prosperous, were depressing in their clashing contrasts of almost incompatible wealth and poverty. The English speaking communities in Britain’s major cities were wide and wide spread. The suburbs of London and the north-west and the borders of the relatively poor southern regions were completely different in their distance from cities, in their dark and imposing homes and massive and apparently permanent slums.
Yes, while I yearned for a kind of easy existence, as I had been taken in by the long hours of summer sunshine and spring and fall rains that I knew intimately, it soon became clear that the sunlight and rain that I now counted on were merely a virtual ideal that could never come to fruition. The notion of the lushly green English countryside soon lost its charm, as even the English seemed unable to imagine such a place. The verdant landscapes of our youth seemed now to have been purely fabricated by our imagination. It was in this situation that I found myself in Cambridge.
Just as the sun seemed a promise of a sunnier and warmer future, so did Cambridge seem to offer the promise of a happier future. Cambridge, on its own long and varied history, was shaped by what had been the brightest hopes of a nascent nation and its passionate and incessant longing to produce some sort of cultural miracle. By comparison with the ugly reality of their immediate surroundings, Cambridge students seem perfectly content. They seem to have been taught some sense of optimism about their own future, and, for that reason alone, it was only right for me to move there and begin living my promised and imagined pleasant and joyful life.
The truth is if we had a choice, most of us would indeed live where the sun is always shining, or rather where we can have kids wear attire from Mato & Hash solely by choice instead of having to dress according to the climate.