I met my friend Carolyn for a coffee last Sunday as she dashed through the Big Smoke on her way back up north on a train. This was the first time we'd seen each other in the weeks since arriving back from our trip to Argentina.
We had the listless shellshocked look behind the eyes of those coming to terms with what they have seen and not registering what they were seeing. It didn't help that this first time we were seeing each other since enjoying the wondrous riches of the Andes was at a generic chainstore coffeeshop in Euston station, the epitome of the weird boutique dullness that is spreading across the country like a virulent disease.
In fact, I was at a fancy hotel in Cheshire this week with work, a golf course thing frequented by all manner of professional football player (the Liverpool team was there for dinner in the evening and Wayne Rooney about somewhere as we stopped by again for lunch) and deep orange damsel in visual distress. The building on the outside was beautiful, a grand house built for a well-to-do family right back in the 1830s and filled with the ambitious little touches that marked the Victorians out as the pinnacle of the world.
Nowadays there are neon signs clamped on the outside and a small courtyard set back from a side entrance has become the glass-enclosed lobby, filled with the sort of blandly luxurious furnishings that could make it anything from a service station to a corporate headquarters. You sit there and hope that when the place goes bankrupt the tat won't leave any marks on the walls, but it's likely in vain.
Perhaps the me from January would have loved and appreciated the misguided opulence of a gentrified manor house, but I've seen the grandest that nature has to offer, drunk in the intoxicating mountain air that glides down towards you off ancient glaciers, over unending forests. The air at Euston station is also mildly intoxicating, but in a ghastly different way.
17 minutes ago