Thursday, 4 November 2010

Capital Punishment

Well this won't do at all.

Yesterday afternoon I went to London.  You know, London.  Big place on the Thames, daft prices for houses, you can't miss it.

I was going with a work colleague because we'd won an award.  Well, strictly speaking, she'd won the award.  Mind you, I wrote the winning submission, so really I could say I was partly responsible for the award.

Hang on, this isn't getting us anywhere.  Let's start again.

Yesterday afternoon I went to London.  And, as is normally the case when I visit the capital, those good people of London Underground decided to take it upon themselves to go on strike.

I have been here before.  In fact, it's almost as if the unions wait until I'm approaching, then decide to down tools.  Or whatever it is tube train drivers down when they're not working.  I should get Boris Johnson to pay me not to go.  I'm a Jonah.

Having been warned yesterday afternoon that the city was gripped by a tube strike, I spent a little time thinking about alternatives.  I knew from past experience a strike of this magnitude meant that arriving at London Euston at peak time would lead to my joining a taxi queue containing most of the population of the western hemisphere, all waiting for precisely five taxis.

I thought about maybe walking from Euston to our final destination in the insurance district, by that bulbous gherkin-y building.  Hmm.  About three miles.  Certainly possible, but not entirely comfortable in the November drizzle, in my sensible clumpy English shoes and woollen winter suit.  My colleague gently advised me that she Was Not Sodding Walking Three Bloody Miles In These Heels Thank You Very Much.  I asked if she had a pair of trainers to slip into, in the manner of Melanie Griffiths' character in the film Working Girl.  I remembered seeing the film in the cinema when it came out.

Worst. Date. Movie. Ever.

Anyway, we decided instead to head down to London on an earlier train, in the hope that this would give us more options before the 6pm awards ceremony.  We arrived at a bustling Euston not long after 4.  And as we wandered, a-bitching and a-mumbling, towards the burgeoning taxi queue, I thought I would just check with the London Underground employee on the station concourse patiently fielding customer queries and dispensing wisdom like Buddha.  Only with more polyester and a hi-vis tabard.

"What's it looking like on the Northern Line to Bank Station?"
"Oh, that one's fine sir, you'll be alright."

He probably wondered why I looked slightly disappointed at this news.

This is why I said, at the start of this post, that this would not do.  I mean, in narrative terms there is nothing good about, "I-went-to-London-and-used-a-remarkably-efficient-public-mass-transport-solution-and-it-was-actually-quite-cheap-don't-you-know," is there?  No, you want to know about our suffering, don't you?  How the forces ranged against us - weather, traffic, Londoners - as we went about our gargantuan task.  How we fought valiantly against the odds, straining every sinew in a determined effort to reach our destination. 

Somehow, sitting down on a tube train for ten minutes with a copy of the Evening Standard to hand doesn't quite cut it, does it?

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