The City of Oxford is served by an express bus to London. The cost of a return ticket is 20 quid. I caught an afternoon bus last Saturday. The trip was quick and painless. I jumped off in Nottinghill Gate. It had been over ten years since my last visit to London, but my memory synapses clicked into action the second the soles of the shoes hit the sidewalk. My internal GPS plotted the Underground voyage to Putney and I descended into the station to buy an Oyster weekly pass for 27 quid.
"Where are you headed?" the clerk asked from behind a thick glass window.
"Putney." The District Line ran direct to Putney, where my godson was waiting on Swinburne Road with the keys to his mother's house.
"Not today, sir." The polite clerk explained that the Underground was undergoing weekend work. "The District and Circle Lines are closed."
"Best you go to High Street Kensington by bus and catch the train to Parsons Green."
His advice filtered through the dusty bins of my hippocampus and provided a concise map backed up by the amygdala's store of emotional recall. The double-decker bus provided a view on the sites of past incidents; a young girl shaving her armpit in Nottinghill Gate ( her name was Victoria ), breaking a tooth on a baguette at the Kensington restaurant, and meeting Osama Bin Laden's brother at an apartment behind Harrods. I jumped on the train at the High Street and proceeded to Parsons Green. The Fulham bus carried me across the Thames into Putney. Dusk was thickening into darkness. I thought about calling my godson for directions, but I am a man and preferred to rely on semi-intact brain cells and opted for a bus traveling along the Lower Richmond Road.
There is no such thing as bad luck in a situation like this, only bad choices.
I was lost within three minutes and couldn't remember the street name of my destination. My Luxembourg SIM card wasn't operating in England, but I was able to vampire a phone call from a perfect stranger. My godson muttered a swear. I was supposed to be on the Upper Richmond Road. It wasn't a huge mistake like Columbus thinking his discovery was the fabled isles of the Indies, but righting my direction required some trans-navigational re-interpretation of advice from the bus driver.
30 minutes later I was sitting with my godson, drinking a beer.
The house was warm and we were cooking steaks.
It was good to be back in London.