The Malcontent on: Distances

It’s not that I’m chronically unfit. I can jog as well as the next guy. But what I have to fucking resent the most about Oxford are the distances involved in doing everything. Distances, what distances? Isn’t this the city where everything is 2 minutes away from everything else? The exam schools are no more than a 10-minute walk (unless you’re a truly unlucky fucker in one of the colleges constituting the distant realms of the land). Even Bridge is only a short stumble home. Maybe. But that’s not the point.

Anywhere else in the country (or the world) I wouldn’t think twice about the daily journeys that plague my existence here. A 5-minute walk? How pleasant! How refreshing! Fresh air, what a great way to start the day. But that’s because everywhere else, unlike in Oxford, everything is far apart. A 5-minute walk is a 5-minute walk to the tube, to embark on a 20-minute tube ride, and another 5-minute walk. It’s a brief component of a longer thing.

It’s all about perspectives, after all. And what I hate most about distances in Oxford is how much it has bastardised my perspectives on distance. Because everything is so close by, it’s so far away. It’s like the glass of cold water that after a heavy night out is so close to your bed you almost don’t have to move to get it, but then you realize your arms aren’t quite long enough. We all know the sinking feeling, realizing we’re going to have to move if we want to drink it.

In many ways, I couldn’t be in a worse position. As much as I am truly heartbroken for those who must endure over a 10-minute walk to get to the centre of town, they still don’t have it as bad as living on Broad Street. Tesco may only be a minute walk…but in line with the foolproof logic of the ‘like a glass of water’ analogy, this minute may as well stretch into millennia. Not least because living so close to Tesco, there’s never a need to plan and get stuff – I can always drop by. If only.

I would get it delivered, but alas, the walk to the lodge is the same distance as the walk to Tesco. It’s things like this that make me realize quite how bad we have it in the first world, after all.

-Anirudh Mathur