In 2003 I went to the opera in Rennes, France, and during intermission met an English guy roughly my age named Ian. He had studied literature at Cambridge and had come to France to visit a professor and see the opera. He offered a the floor of his flat if I ever came to London, I took him up on that offer a few months later, and then we went our separate ways.
Fast forward fourteen years. Ian now lives in Oxford and sees through Facebook that I’ve moved to London. So he invites me up to lunch!
Turns out lunches in Oxford are not short. I got there for lunch at 1pm. There were four guests (two lawyers, two historians) and three nationalities (American, British, Swedish). Conversation ranged from current television to the state of contemporary theatre in London to the French Revolution. By 8pm we had polished off the pudding and were just finishing the cheese course when our host proposed a walk through town.
The evening had turned fine and we were just in time to see the lovely late light on the golden stones of the university buildings. We landed at the Kings Arms, a storied old pub, and the conversation was still going strong when I finally pried myself away to catch the 10pm train back to London.