7.30pm on a warm August night. I jumped out of the cab in King St, and headed for the door from where I could see a throng of people mingling inside in the good doctor’s living room – cleared to provide a space to rival any London gallery, and showcasing my friend G’s latest work.
The room was packed, with B slaving over a hot stove to produce delicious Thai nibbles and the art around the walls framing a lush garden and the Sussex hills behind.
The music provided a party vibe, the wine flowed and I was put on topping up duty.
I got chatting to J about living in the country vs living in the city. ‘I just feel cooped up sometimes’ I said, ‘I guess I love the outdoors so much that it does my head in to be surrounded by city streets – but I do like the energy and buzz of London’. ‘It’s all in your head’, he replied, then: ‘It’s about feeling content with what you’re doing’.
I wondered about that. ‘More white wine?’ I said to a ruddy faced man, ‘Yeah, it’s free isn’t it? Keep it coming! ‘ I asked him how he liked living in the country. ‘Well, I used to live in Amsterdam and I travelled for work a lot. Now I’m here and I haven’t travelled for two months – I feel really cooped up’. He gestured towards the wall in front of us: ‘ I think I might buy that painting though’.
‘Red or white?’ I said to another art partyer and asked for her views on the subject: ‘Oh, I really miss London’ she said, ‘I miss the diversity of it all, I live here but I really get cabin fever sometimes’. ‘ By the way’ she continued, ‘Are you around next Sunday, I’m having a Ploughman’s lunch as part of the festival – would you like to come?’ ‘Oh!’ I replied, ‘Thank you, but I’m not sure if I’ll be here then’. ‘That’s fine. Excuse me but there’s the man delivering my cheese, I must say hello’ .
I got talking to John and Jim. ‘We love it here – we go out to eat and everyone knows you. We’re real foodies, but, we also love the anonymity of London. We have a place there and we just found a little restaurant to go to where all they do is steak and frites – that’s it, that’s all they do; it’s fabulous!’
As midnight came and went, it was time to go. ‘Nice to see you again’ said the doctor, ‘Are you sticking around?’ It struck me as an unusual question and as I looked at him I thought about what that meant and wondered what made the sticking around worth sticking around for.