I woke up at four this morning in abject pain, a muscle cramp in my calf yanking me from blessed slumber back into a cold and frightful world. Usually I only suffer from this if I’ve had a heavy bout of drinking the night before, washing all the essential salts from my body, but I’d been calm and sober last night; it was very mysterious. The kind of mystery that would have kept me up at night, if it hadn’t already been the morning.

For a time, I entertained moving back to London. That was before I tried commuting again. I had made the mistake of going up the wrong branch of the Northern Line, but even then, it seemed that far too many people were jammed into too small a space. I joined a queue to get onto a carriage, and at the last moment a lanky man elbowed me aside and crammed himself on to the train. There was so little space that he had to bend himself into an inverted J, pressing every part of his body against another man, while I looked on in askance. There was no way you were meant to fit that many people onto a train.

Unless you enjoyed that sort of thing, of course.

Having to take an hour to get to work, in cramped conditions, gave me new appreciation for my ten minute Singapore commute, with its uniform temperature and lack of human bodies being pressed against me. It’s funny that I had to travel so far to find something I liked, but I suppose that is the way of the world.

Not that London is universally horrible. On a warm April afternoon, with beer drinkers spilling out of pubs, with the sky blue and the air clear, the world is a happy place. The ongoing financial apocalypse seems a world away. I took a train to Croydon (most recently the punchline to a joke in Iron Man 3) and had dinner in another pub, then took a tram home, the air cool and crisp, the night devoid of sirens and horns. As I lie now in bed, I can hear an airplane descend, the only noise in the suburbs. Peace and quiet aren’t such bad things, and nor is decent, economically priced beer. What kind of choice is that?

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