Nothing is ever straight forward for me. You should know that by now. Even the most simple of tasks becomes a crazy mission. Take this afternoon, I booked a half day holiday to drop my car off at ARC Coachworks in Mitcham (South London) to have the passenger door repaired. I left work promptly at midday but did not head home first as you would assume. I went to the gym and got my weight session done before heading home. I got home around 1.30pm and quickly had a shower changed, grabbed my things (already organised from last night) and jumped into the car. It was 13:57 according to the clock on my dash, I was hitting the M4 into London. The journey was relatively quiet, all things considered. I hate driving in London, but had planned for the journey by also scouting out my journey on Google Maps. My previous route had been M25 and M3 which was just far too long winded. The M4 route is more direct and easier. Once I went over the Hammersmith flyover and saw for the first time the Hammersmith Apollo, it was onto the A roads down through Fulham and over a bridge (Wandsworth Bridge Road) and then through Tooting and arrived at my destination just after 3pm. I dropped the car off, handed over my keys then walked the mile or so to Tooting station, having plugged myself into my Zen. When I got to the station I bought my ticket to Elephant & Castle and headed down to Platform one. It was 15:31 by the station clock and literally ten seconds later my train arrived.
Going to head on a slight tangent here but bear with me, there is a method in my madness. Back in the mid 1990s, I was a regular listener to Capital FM. (How times have changed!) In any case I was such a big fan of the radio station I would listen non-stop some weekends and was able to name songs that were going to be played within seconds of hearing the opening beat. The used to be many memorable adverts played on the station at the time but one of my favourite was for Transport For London. The premise was some evangelical priests guiding a lost soul to his destination. “He was lost, among the heard of wondering souls in Trafalgar Square. If only he had know that all he had to do was dial 0171 222 1234 and get all the latest information on that last night bus home to Tooting.” The chorus of followers would repeat loudly “Tooting”.
Until today, I had never been to Tooting although obviously had fond memories of the name from the radio add from some ten years ago. So here I was, walking up past the main street to the main railway station. I got to Elephant & Castle within thirty minutes or so and then had a bit of a walk to the Tube station. I had to come out of the shopping centre (which is behind the train station) and out into the market area and then down a series of subways up to the Tube station. Then I got my Oyster Card out and it was automatically topped up 😉 (Do you not just love modern technology!) I then decided to go down the 124 stairs rather than use the lift. As I got to the platform, there was a train waiting, so I jumped on and sat down. Two middle aged woman appeared and consulted the map. They then asked me if this train went to Tooting. I explained I had just come from that direction and gave them some basic instructions on how to get to the Southern line service just before the bell sounded and the doors closed. My deed of the day if you will.
Once I was on the Bakerloo Line train, my journey was pretty straightforward with no surprises. I got off at Marylebone, rushed up the stairs and escalator, found my Oyster Card in my bag and went through the barrier. Headed to the Time Machine, I mean Fast Ticket machine and bought a single to Wycombe and then waited for the platform number for the next train heading home to light up on the departure board. Platform six, for the Princes Risborough service at 16:38. I had estimated I would be hope at 6pm, as I had walked to Tooting station. I got into Wycombe at 17:20 and walked to the bus station, stopping at Tesco to get some chocolate. I had a major sugar rush and bought a Dairy Milk Double Chocolate and a Nestle Yorkie Bar (or cooking chocolate as my ex best friend used to call it at college). I really don’t think I should have eaten both bars, one after the other as I walked to bay F to wait for my bus. I had missed the first Cressex Park & Ride (100) service by a few minutes and the next was along at 17:50, I bought my ticket and jumped on board. I took a deep breathe, finally the long journey was coming to an end.
There was a moment when I was walking towards Tooting station, that I realised I was in London. Two police cars parked on the street and a WPC arguing with an old woman on her doorstep. There was a feeling inside which said I was out of my comfort zone, please get me back to leafy Buckinghamshire and the familiar sights and sounds of my home town.
A busy few days, including the weekend and then a few more busy days out of the office. Life will not really return to some sense of normality until Thursday evening. Plus with The Big Bang Theory series one coming to an end tomorrow (I will catch the episode on E4 tonight as it has been pushed back to midnight tomorrow to make way for the Big Brother launch). Whatever happened to Big Brother launches on Fridays?