Two days into my new job and new routine. I have to admit, even as invincible as I am to the daily commute, I am slightly tired. Firstly, let me guide you through my first official day. London and the bright lights of the City. It was hectic, that I had expected. But there were some comforting surprises and other delights :). However, let us begin, very much at the beginning.
I woke up, just before 6am and knew I had to be at my bus stop by 7.20am. This particular stop, is conveniently placed to the rear of my house and our housing estate. With the proximity of the Asda superstore, the 329 Arriva bus service runs every 15 minutes. My breakfast was light cereal, I had wanted some Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut Cornflakes had to make do with Weetabix Weetos. Never mind. I arrived at the bus stop, and within a minute, the bus arrived. So far, everything was going like clockwork. There was only one other person on the bus, but slowly it filled up with other early birds, making their journey to work. A blonde guy, aged around 17, was playing his music loud. By definition I mean, the sound of his music was clearly audible over the sound of the aging diesel engine of the bus. He listened to No Doubt and some other trance music. This did not bother me in the slightest, but I noticed other passengers, being concerned and some showing their disgust by their facial expressions. Newlands Bus Station was the destination and just before 8am, the first leg of my journey was complete. Now, the casual stroll across a deserted High Wycombe town centre, across to the train station. I had planned to catch the earlier train, but got through the gates to see the 8.07am train waiting at platform one. The start time I had been given was 9.30am, so my journey planning allowed for any delays, either with the bus, train or tube. This service by Chiltern Railways is one of the fastest to London, with only a few stops before terminating at Marylebone. At Wycombe, there was only a trickle of commuters, but at the stops of Beaconsfield and Gerrards Cross (which generally are next down the line) the train filled up. I sat opposite a old gentleman. He sat down with Daily Mail in hand, and clutched an attaché case. To be surprise, he opened it, to reveal a modern Sony Walkman. The new shape, which are almost completely circular. As the train moved out of the station and onward, he rushed to get plugged into his music. Unlike the passenger on the bus earlier, he had the courtesy to play his music at a discreet level. Therefore, I was unable to decipher what he was listening to. My original guess, was classical. His next move, was to begin the crossword. Frantically jotting down possible words on the borders of his paper. So this continued, until the crossword was complete. Then, it was a case of digesting the morning news. Other passengers I observed? Well a old lady came and sat down next to be at our next stop. She was at least in her mid fifties. She too carried a case of some description. As the train rattled towards the capital, she got out two booklets. On closer examination, I discovered they were prospectuses. But not just any old prospectuses. No sir. They were for Oxford and Cambridge. The institutions which produce the great minds of our society and recognised across the world as the locations of academic excellence. Perhaps she was considering heading back into education and wanting to gain some self satisfaction from the achievement. The train arrived into London Marylebone on time. Most of the other commuters were in a hurry, making a mad dash for the exits off the platform. I had time to spare, but still wanting to get to my destination with time to spare, rather than making up the final leg in a mad rush. Little did I know, of the unexpected event that lay before me.
With the works to the escalators at Marylebone tube station (as mentioned on my Friday entry) I scrolled over to Baker Street. From here, it was a case of jumping on the southbound Bakerloo line, heading to Embankment. Overall, the tube was busy, cramped, hectic and hot. I was almost there, I looked at my watch, as I strode the escalators up to the northbound district and circle line platform. It was 8.59am, I had plenty of time. Then, as I reached the top of the stairs, I noticed a large hoard of people, standing aimlessly and confused. Then, I saw the empty tube train. What was going on? The voice over the PA, confirmed my worst fears. A suspect package at Blackfriars I panicked. What should I do? Risk paying over the odds for a taxi? Try to catch an alternative tube to reach a station nearby. My initial instinct was to go for the first option, so I headed out of the station. Coming across a tube map, I began to ponder the options and then realised that station I had used on Friday. At pace, I swiftly changed direction and headed back into the station and for the Northern Line platform. The situation was causing me great bother, mainly the pressure of time, which was increasing by the second. I did not want to be be late. Then again, I did not want to arrive exceptionally late, so 10am. But did I make the best logistic decision? God knows. I retraced my steps from my walk on Friday morning. I made it into the office at 9.45am, to discover the receptionist on the phone, to the HR officer, requesting my name badge to be printed. Just in time. This adds a completely new dimension to the phrase.
My first day was filled with interesting observations. Firstly, I was surprised by the general relaxed nature around the office. IT Support can be very hectic at times, particularly when it is all hands on deck for some major fire fighting. My assumption was that a big international law firm would be slightly more tuned in, when dealing with major conglomerates around the world. To the contrary, all departments I have visited so far, do not seem to have any sense of real urgency. People are quietly busy, getting on with their allotted task. Maybe this is just their way. I am now a small clog, in that very big machine. 🙂
My working day, finished at 5.30pm. I headed back to Marylebone to catch the train home. I will not bore you with the details, the journey was quiet, without incident. A couple, from Birmingham had just been to the opening day of Wimbledon. They had a portable television, remember those? Trying desperately to watch the final few sets of the tennis, before switching over for the big match. It was when I got into Wycombe, and the bus station when things started to get interesting. The bus I catch is the 326. It has two rounds and circles two separates areas of the town. As it pulled into the station, I boarded, thinking it was making the second journey, towards the south. I was sadly mistaken. The signs were apparent, as soon as we headed out of the station. Instead of the taking the customary turning off the main roundabout, the driver headed east. My heart sang. Would I get home in time for the big match? The second half, looked like a distant prospect. The driver was a jolly West Indian gentleman. When we arrived deep into Micklefield, the point at which the bus terminates, he turned to me and said, “Where to sir?” I explained my proposed destination. He responded, with a slight snigger, “you got da rong circuit. The 315 is what you be wanting. If you lucky, you get the next one leaving the station”. I just nodded in acknowledgement, feeling embarrassed at my mistake. The bus service, 315 the driver referred to was the weekend and evening service. I recalled that it made a cross country journey through High Wycombe town centre, starting off high at the top of the valley, in Flackwell Heath and then across to the quiet suburb of Lane End. So I was ending back into Wycombe, hoping to catch the ‘correct’ bus this time around. Just around the corner from the station, the bus made an unexpected stop in the middle of the road. The bus driver, opened his slide window and called out to his colleague. The driver of the 315. “I got wan for ya…!” Instantly the driver responded and pulled his bus to the side of the road. I rushed from my seat, dazed by the events occurring. I jumped off the bus and thanked the jovial driver for all his help. He had been a star. Running as fast as I could, with a brief case in my left hand, I crossed the road and boarded the bus. Job done.
I arrived home, with the sun setting behind the neighbouring estate, streaks of sunshine gleaming behind the long trees. A picturesque scene, which needed to be captured. I looked at my watch. It was 7.57pm. I had been out of the house thirteen hours. As I rang the doorbell, the clock struck 8pm. As events became apparent, England were heading out of the European Championships. Luckily, someone decided to come out of his premature retirement from scoring international goals. Then, a special young boy thought he would let the world know of his talent. 🙂 Bring on the hosts!
As if you have not got tired of reading this entry already, I still have a few other after thoughts to add. Hopefully, we be able to update later in the week. I hope to add some more images, so you can get the sense of my general day. So feel free to leave your comments and messages for me. I will try my best to get in touch with you all.