London 2011. January-April. Summary for English speakers.
35 nights sleeping in The Caesar, a 4 star hotel in Bayswater, between Kensington Gardens and Paddington Station. 28 nights in room 104, the smallest one, I guess, where I still have not got used to the van in the toilet, the ants on the floor or the strange way to make beds. But where I feel now almost like at home, knowing that many of the staff are football fans of Barcelona and being treated like the usual client I have become, though I have only slept there.
38 planes in 4 months. I have got enough miles for a free flight to Los Angeles. I know the video of British Airways recommending to take out the high heel shoes when the plane has an emergency landing by heart. I will not miss gate 24 from Heathrow, Terminal 3, nor gate D 10, 14 or 18 from El Prat. I will have not solved the enigma of why buses at Heathrow terminal have only one door.
48 students in two classes. Most of them, brilliant people. All of them, with a much better knowledge of English than me. I have learnt English (to set aside an award, Maundy Thursday, second leg for football matches) from them and for them. I have been anxious to read the many pages I had told them and to discover how to fill three hours per week on International Commercial Arbitration or two hours on Diplomatic and Consular Law and Practice. With such good students it turned out to be possible, as they did very good presentations (mostly with powerpoints I should have collected and posted in TWEN, the US webpage where all the materials were available), they read what they were told (though I could not believe that at the beginning) and they even created a DVD with a new set of movie and TV series where there are references to diplomatic relations. It is enriching to be in an atmosphere of powerful young brains, always ahead of yours, that get to the point before you have even started your reasoning. I might be the only one to call them by their surname, to take them to 5 Embassies and Consulate (6, as in Marilyn Monroe’s movie, “The prince and the showgirl”, (where before attending a royal wedding, she is told that a century ago, in London, there were only 6 embassies) or to ICC in Paris, or celebrating Sant Jordi in a different way, but I feel that at last I am the student and it is them who can tell me: “Elementary, Dr. Watson”, As Holmes, not Sherlock, told his writer every now and then. If I had been staying in London all this time I might have been able to do it better in advance. But I could not stay longer (my boss at ICC did not allow me more than two days per week) and it is now that I know where to improve my classes in English. Maybe too late.
One football match (Arsenal 2, Barcelona 1), two theatre plays (“The Mousetrap” and “The 39 steps”), two operas (“Il Barbiere di Siviglia” and “Die Zauberflöte”), two movies at more 15 pounds the ticket (“The Kings’ Speech” and “Unknown” –to be released in Spain in two weeks-), 4 movie nights (“The Interpreter”, “Anatomy of a Murder”, “The Lemon Tree” and “In the loop”), one pub night (with “Lent buns” (bunyols de Quaresma) imported from Barcelona), many lunches previous to the colloquium with guest professors or professors, one high tea (without tea, to my surprise) at professor Ramraj’s home, with my watched stopped and almost missing my plane, two weekends in London (one with friends, another one with my family), many nights walking for more than an hour and a half to my hotel, discovering London , many more mornings jogging for more than 40 minutes in Hyde Park and Kensington gardens, squirrels, one fox staring at me at midnight, a few taxis and their impossible ability to turn round, many newspapers (“The Times”, “The Independent”, “London Evening Standard”, even the “Daily Mail”), two quick visits to free museums (the British Museum or the National Gallery)… that is a compressed summary of these 4 months as commuter to London, flying in every Tuesday night and going back home every Thursday night.
5 kilos lost in between, eating much less than usual. Less money in my account (as my job at ICC Spain, only three days per week (Monday, Tuesday and Friday), has logically also been compressed). No English taxes. But I end up with the feeling that all this was worth any effort, money or lack of sleep necessary. I am sure that it will not only be nice to add two lines in my c.v. referring to this London experience, I am convinced that my approach to life and to Law will not be the same, it will be transnational from now on. As the Center for Transnational Legal Studies that has hosted me, the students and the courses during this term. The project, headed by Georgetown University and with many universities around the world in its pool of students and professors, is a good idea. I am now even more convinced of it, when I am leaving London without knowing the outcome of the referendum on May 5th on the alternative voting that might change the elections in the UK or missing the Royal wedding that has filled the air for the last weeks. Will I come back to London? Perhaps in Wembley next month, for the Champions League final.