Oxford is the kind of city I'd like to spend a few months in, just living and hanging out. Made me long for my grad student days in Berkeley. Though I guess you can never really go back. Two thoughts struck me: students look the same the world over, and man oh man, college students are looking really young to me now. Like children. Thus does middle age creep up on me.
I tried to think about the city as Giles might when he was a student. Though it's sometimes hard to notice places as places while you're there with a mission. What you think about while living somewhere is what you're doing with your life, not the place you're living as place. Hmm, I have to find a better way of expressing this concept. I mentioned Berkeley, where I was a grad student for a couple of unsuccessful years. While I lived there as a student, mostly what I thought about was my classes. Bookstores were places to buy books if I could afford them. Cafes existed to provide me coffee while I worked. I didn't really have a sense of Berkeley as a city with a flavor and a personality. I am aware of that personality now. (People do make fun of Berkeley, but I am fond of it, and would cheerfully live there again.)
I wrote a long rant about bookstores that I published on my Yet Another Boring Life Story blog thing. The rant mentions that I'd found my copy of On Forsyte 'Change at the Strand in New York a decade ago. This book has always struck me as being essentially fan fiction. Okay, fanfiction written by Galsworthy himself, so not fanfic in the needs-disclaimer sense. But Galsworthy couldn't stand to leave the characters alone. He wanted them to live a little longer. Isn't this why we write fanfic?
Read "Cry of peacock" and tell me seriously that it's not fanfic. It even ends with sex, or at least sexual longing.