London, December and Graduation. What a joyous time. All conditions united for a fantastic few days. The city was decorated from top to bottom with the bright and cheerful lights of the festive season. Each graduant had made their way from their part of the world back to the capital of England for the ceremony.
It must have been around 8pm on the day after we graduated. We’d hopped off the extremely packed streets of Piccadilly Circus and onto a bus. We were setting off for a big night, equipped with beer and wine stashed in our plastic Tesco bags. The trip to the southwest of the city is quite long after all. Having settled down in the few remaining empty seats at the top of the bus and taken off our winter jackets so as not to sweat, we cracked open our cans of Stella and savored the ice cold lager.
Fifty minutes later, we – my coursemates and I – had made it past the 22 stops that separated us from our destination and were about to get off the bus to go to Jaks, one of our favorite bars.
We stumbled down the steep staircase, descending from the top deck, with the last beer in our hand.
‘Stella?‘ a woman asked, smiling.
‘Yes!‘ I answered, brandishing the can as my eyes adjusted to her face and spotted her husband next to her.
‘Where are you going to now?‘ she inquired.
‘We’re getting off at the next stop to go to Jaks. How about yourselves?‘
‘Ah Jaks, nice place! We’re just looking for one more pub before heading home.‘
‘Oh, how many times have you said that tonight?‘ I asked with a smile.
‘You mean: how many times have we gone home tonight?‘ her husband grinned, making us all burst out of laughter.
After wishing them a merry Christmas, we jumped off the bus and continued the final part of our journey by foot. That dose of absurd and self-deprecating humour, which had ensued from the convivial spirit of a brief friendly encounter, had reminded us that we were indeed back in the United Kingdom.