The journey in this morning was almost entirely uneventful – although I am starting to devote a dark corner of my brain to the behaviour of the staff that sell tickets on the train each morning. Back when I worked in London all the time I bought monthly tickets, which absolved me from having to worry about it at all – since then I’ve had to buy a ticket for each journey because I only ever buy a few days in a row.
So far this week I’ve encountered a member of staff selling tickets on the platform – intercepting travellers on their way to the train, a member of staff stood inside the train doors selling tickets in a similar manner, a member of staff wandering from seat to seat on the train once it leaves, and a member of staff appearing half-way through the journey with a broken ticket machine. Given that the train routinely has fifty or sixty people on it, and the ticket seller typically only sells four or five tickets on the first leg of the journey, I can only presume that most people have season tickets ?At least I’ve managed to get tickets this week so far – I’ve reached London without a ticket several times in the past, and have been forced into the awkward conversation with staff at the barriers (you have to swipe tickets to get into the London stations from the platforms).
Anyway… I got the Underground from Paddington to Euston this morning – no walk through the city streets on account of it being absolutely freezing out there. It’s now 9am and I’m holed up in Cafe Nero, with twenty minutes to kill until I need to dissappear into one of the huge buildings nearby. I have a swipe card for the week that gives me access to everywhere, so don’t have to play the silly game with reception – signing in and out every day.
I nearly forgot – I got elbowed in the face this morning by a tall gangly guy climbing the stairs out of Euston ahead of me. Luckily he had a cashmere coat on that cushioned the impact – I couldn’t help smiling that he conformed to the unwritten uniform of people that work in the city – leather bag, leather shoes, cashmere coat, neat haircut… he was like some kind of corporate drone. An “Agent Smith” if ever there was one.
So. Fifteen minutes to go. A colossally tall gentleman just wandered into the seating area of the cafe. He’s even taller than me – meaning he probably doesn’t fit anywhere either. If you’re wondering what I’m talking about, try getting on a main-line train with me, or on a coach, or visit an old theatre. I don’t fit. My knees end up either spread wide, or propped on the chair in front.
There is a girl typing on a Macbook just across from me. She’s pulling faces, and hovering her hands over the keyboard like she’s conducting a symphony. She has long brown hair, pulled into a pony tail, and glasses like Thelma from Scooby Doo. She seems to be particularly pleased with whatever she is writing.
I guess I need to think about going. It might take ten minutes to get a lift to the top of the building across the way.* Several hours pass while I talk non-stop in front of a projected screen, and make a computer do back-flips.
Here we are again – on the mezzanine at Euston station, watching the world go by. I’ve fallen back into old habits – buying food from stores with meal deals in order to get lunch for half the price you might pay elsewhere. Back when I worked in Liverpool Street, I would buy lunch on the way to work, and sit at my desk each day – the novelty of wandering the nearby streets got old very quickly – although I did find some parks to escape to on the sunnier days. I remember a croquet green hidden among the city buildings, and overpaid idiots in pinstripe suits making an ass of themselves in front of everybody.
Sitting high above the big railway stations is interesting. There is a constantly moving sea of people through the station – everybody is coming from somewhere, going to somewhere – if you think about it too much, it would probably drive you insane. Everybody down there has parents. Lots of people down there probably have children. Actually… scratch that. I’m always amazed when on Underground trains at how few wedding rings you see. I don’t think it’s because people don’t wear them – I just think that most people that work in the city are not married – their lifestyle doesn’t suit being married. I used to think my two hour each way commute was out of the ordinary until I talked to a few people that work in the city, and it turns out it’s not that strange at all. Millions of people spend huge chunks of their life commuting because they can’t afford to live near to work – but then they also spend a fortune on rail tickets – quite often more than the cost of a car per year. And they still have a car – sitting outside their house at home.
The world is strange.
A rotund man just wandered past – he looks like a potato on lollipop sticks. He has glasses that he keeps pushing back up his nose, and a tuft of brown hair atop his head. He has a distinct air of Georgraphy teacher about him.
There is a burger place just across the way, advertising an “8 minute guarantee”. Apparently you will be eating within 8 minutes of placing your order. Perhaps I’ll go in and shout “40 burgers please”, and see what happens. I wonder what happens if they don’t make their guarantee? Is there small-print that says “don’t take the piss” ?Why do hipsters wearing scarves for effect always have such skinny legs?Oh crikey – there is a project manager walking up and down the line of food places. You can tell he’s a project manager because he can’t make his mind up – I imagine he’ll start asking people sitting in each cafe what they might recommend next. He has a co-worker with him – a younger guy – who looks like he wants the ground to open up under either him, or his manager. The manager has a backpack that looks like it just came out of the packet.
What is it with people wearing hoods that don’t fit? They end up looking like five year olds wearing clothes they have grown out of. Hoodies should be a size too big. It should be a law.
I’m going to stop typing now – I’m just ranting about unintelligible rubbish. At least I’m not alone now though – a girl just sat down next to me to eat her lunch. Perhaps she’ll start reading this. Perhaps I really should stop. I’ve written too many perhapses in this paragraph.