08 May, 2006

Oraface oratory

Before I moved to London, whenever I visited the city I would always find bits of the place got up my nose. Literally.

I'd find them emerging out of my nostrils, and indeed from my ears, for at least 48 hours following my return home. For the urban myth is true: your snot does change colour when you go to London, turning from, well, a reassuring ochre to a crappy brown or depressing black.

Whenever this happened I always thanked my good fortune to not be a permanent resident of the metropolis, given this would surely mean your nose constantly ran soot and you'd greet each new dawn by coughing up a bucket of phlegm.

When I found I had no choice but to move to London, however, I compounded my insanitary insecurities by opting to live on the Northern Line, aka the Misery Line, aka the capital's chimney. "You use the Northern Line?" mused my boss the other day. "That's the dirtiest, smelliest one of them all," he added, as if doing me a favour.

All of this is accurate and beyond argument - but as with all new environments, both physical and mental, you find yourself and your body adjusting in the end. I don't have black snot anymore. I don't cough up gallons of bile as soon as I wake up. I don't think I arrive in work stinking of soot. But I'm well aware of how my own appearance and general wellbeing has deteriorated since I moved here, and how the difference between walking to work through a leafy pleasant suburb and spending half an hour several metres underground shakes up your outlook on life.

If I left London now I'm sure I'd spent several weeks spluttering and choking on its grisly residue. As long as I remain here, though, I know I won't. Which begs the question, where is all of that bile presently residing? How is it hiding itself from view? It seems to me there's a whiff of conspiracy in the air. Or at least I think there is. My nose is too clogged up to really tell.


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