I shall confess – I love travelling by train. Much more so than by air or car. Sure, travelling by air consumes less time (usually), whilst travelling by car allows you to shove all your luggage in the boot and to enjoy some nice landscapes at almost any speed you like. But I still prefer trains. In some inexplicable sense, I find them more comfortable and definitely more romantic. Re the latter, I don’t mean exactly a night train, but simply the state of sitting nicely at the window, especially if you’re travelling on a Pendolino.
As I said ages ago, I was planning to go to London. Now I can tell you, why. In Russia, we’ve got two passports – one domestic, another foreign – which every citizen has to renew every so often. The ‘every so often’ for my foreign passport arrived last November, so I went to London to submit documents for renewal. I was told that it would take approximately 3-4 months to receive a new passport. Having submitted the papers in November 2005, I didn’t hear about my passport until August 2006. And for different reasons I only managed to get to the consulate last week – only to find out that my surname has once again been spelt in French (apparently French is still the official transciption language on such documents).
What’s the difference, you may wonder? Well, my surname in French is spelt as ‘Chouvalova‘. Can you imagine me explaining to every English-speaking official that this is French spelling, and that they should pronounce ‘ch’ as ‘sh’? A poor chap (or chapess) will think I’m taking a mickey out of them. I must say, my consulate has made a correction, so my great and hearty commendations to them. Now I will have to tell the officials to look at the penultimate page in my passport for correct spelling. How different is that?
[Gosh, I only just realised something about this French spelling. Remember ‘mon petit chou‘? I resolve to go to France in 2007, to test their reaction to my surname, he-he. Or perhaps even remake it into something posh, say, ‘Chouvalois’…].
Generally, I like travelling to London. Of course, as I was born and raised in Moscow, going to London sometimes feels like homecoming. I’ve got loads of buses (that come frequently and on time), I’ve got the Tube, I’ve got scores of art places, etc. I never got lost on the underground, and I even find the whole tube system quite easy to figure out.
But this time (Thursday, 14th) my journey wasn’t half as pleasant. For various reasons, I haven’t left Manchester at all since last November. When I read this entry on Richard’s blog, I thought I’d do the same. Instead, I made this entry in my real notebook:
Later on, another anxiety visited me – I began to feel like I was going to forget something somewhere. I only had one bag with me, and I always had it with me, in my hand or on my shoulder. Yet for some reason I was almost convinced I was going to forget something. Of course, I didn’t.
When I first mentioned here that I was going to London, I said that I was planning to visit two exhibitions at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Alas, I didn’t. My shoes decided to try and kill me, so walking wasn’t always comfy. Then I saw a poster on the Tube about Rodin’s exhibition at the Royal Academy of Art. My spirits sank completely. In the end, I took an early train home.
On Friday, Richard Fair at Radio Manchester was inviting us to announce our New Year resolutions. One of mine is – definitely – travelling.