I have now been back from Madrid on unofficial summer holidays for three weeks. Despite romantic visions of spending long summer days reading, the time has slipped by in a slightly blurry haze of gin and tonics, glasses of wine and mugs of tea. Preoccupied with dog walks, lie-ins and lengthy trips on London´s creaking public transport system, the pile of Spanish books lugged back from Madrid have remained undisturbed in a pile on my bedroom floor. Unfortunately, any spare time - potential reading time - has been swallowed by increasingly panicked investigations into what to do and where to go come September - a question that seems to have boiled down to a London versus Madrid conundrum.
Having spent the past few weeks commuting to town in reverse, spending evenings at friends´ houses and nights on their sofas, I can´t help but feel that if it came to sink or swim in London, I´d struggle to keep my head above the water. Even if you push aside the exorbitant prices and astronomic size of the city, London is stressful. For one, evenings out in London become a stressful test requiring military organisation. Though I was undoubtedly spoilt in Madrid, living on the same road as several laid-back, late-night terraced bars, I think that it is justified to feel indignant when turfed out of a bar pre-midnight. I was booted out of a pub last Friday. My glass of wine sloshed unceremoniously into a plastic pint cup and the door closed and locked abruptly behind me, I was left standing listlessly on the street outside. Unwilling to commit to a boozy night in a noisy nightclub, but equally reluctant to return home, I wandered around aimlessly for a while (plastic pint cup in hand) hoping somewhat optimistically to stumble across a pub with a late licence. It didn´t take long before I conceded defeat and made for the nearest bus stop. Unfortunately, although the night had been bought to a premature end, the wearying wait for an overcrowed night bus and the painfully convoluted route that it took meant that it wasn´t until the early hours that I flaked into bed.