Thursday 1st July 2004

Eight days into my new job, and disaster did really strike. I had a few options. Bite the bullet and drive in. Consider paying over the odds for a taxi from Marylebone station to the office? Or risk a crowded bus? On the train home, on Tuesday evening, I overheard someone saying that they were driving back into London, later that evening and booking into a hotel for the night. This seemed at first glance, a great idea, until you think about the car. You have to check out by 11am and then where can you park your car for some 6 hours? Exactly. Having consider all the options, I took the advice from Transport for London. Walk. On the tube map, and even in the A to Z, the distance appeared to be exhausting. Estimating, that the few miles could be covered in around thirty minutes, I checked my train timetable. To be within a realistic chance of getting to work on time, I would need to catch the 06.03 service from High Wycombe. Not a problem. Thankfully, a lift from my sister made the journey possible. I usually catch the first 326 service into town, on a weekday, so a lift was the only option. It is strange how different the streets of London are, when comparing them with a map. At times, I felt I was heading in the wrong direction, using my rather modest sense of direction to guide me to the office. From Marylebone station, it was across to Baker Street and walking down to Oxford Street. London, in the early hours is a world apart from how I recall the city. The deserted pavements, with the occasional commuter, also letting the feet take the strain. The rest were packed like sardines into buses, with major queues forming, at every stop. Delivery vans, were unloading to some of the biggest high street names, making the best of the light morning traffic. All those super brand stores, including some of the most famous stores in the world. I suppose, if I was a coffee lover, I would be in heaven in this part of town. Starbucks for as far as the eye can see, and almost around every corner. Those who have seen Shrek 2, will know what I mean, on this point. Arriving at a similar time at the office, as I would have done, if I had made the twenty minute tube journey. Which do I prefer, well I will let you be the judge of that!

My role at work is becoming more hands on. Given more responsibility. We all know, that with great power comes great responsibility. Nerve racking when you have to start working on your own, but it is not too bad and the jobs that need to be undertaken are quite simply. Just got to remember how to cope with those every occurring sticky situations. Enjoyment is important in the work place and I am enjoying my work. The work day is just right, even though I start at 8am and finish at 4pm. Which to many people sounds highly tantalizing, the fact that there are over two hours of traveling to add onto the front and end of those allotted hours. Twelve hours away from the house, seems somewhat disheartening, as you are only working for eight of those. Oh well, this is life.

So, we come to my journey home. I decided to head back in the same direction. Walking, perhaps at this time of day, was ill advised. The hustle and bustle of Oxford Street on a weekday afternoon. How can I describe it? Hundreds of tourists, visitors and shoppers, wandering the pavements with a sense of ease and disengagement. While within their mists you have a hundred more, commuters trying to get somewhere. I was with them, that wet afternoon. I hit rapid pace, once I got onto Oxford Street. The crowds were too much, with the queues for buses, made up of hoards of people, stretched across the right of way, for all pedestrians. Every now and gain, I would switch up a gear from a swift walk, to a jog, to a quick run. I am not fit. I know I desperately need to get fit. My body was never designed for more than a gentle stroll, and a short one for that matter. However, knowing that time was pressing upon me, like the rain, now softly coming down across my face, I had to take some action. As I turned right onto Baker Street, with the rain coming down, much harder now. I knew this was it. I jogged at some pace up to the tube station. The traffic was beginning to get heavy now, the rush hour would be soon upon us. Why is it referred to as an hour, when it lasts much more longer than that. Never mind, I did not have time for such trivial questions. The station was about ten minutes away, ten minutes which I did not have to spare. So, in an attempt to make sure I got to the station in good time, I had no choice. I needed to run. Run as fast as I could. I hit the turbo boost and not a moment too soon. I was lucky with the road traffic too, able to rush across the streets with no black cabs heading for me. I accelerated past a older gentleman, who had be running for at least half an hour. He appeared in much shaper than me, even taking into account his age. I sped past him and rushed to the station and did not stop until I reached the ticket barrier. As I entered the platform, I noted the time on the platform clock. 16:59 All my running, swift walking, dodging of other pedestrians had paid off. I had made it to the station in time for my train. Why, oh why had the walk taken over thirty minutes longer, ten hours later in the day? I boarded my bus home at 17:57, again noting the time on the bay clock. As the 326 pulled out of Newlands Bus Station, the sun was shining. After a day of rain, wind and tall orders, I felt some satisfaction. For whatever the reasons, others had decided to make sure my day would be awful. You too are entitled to your view on this industrial dispute and subsequent action. Did they succeed? Of course not. I forgot to mention, one last option that was always open to me. To stay in bed.

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