The alarm on my phone went off at 6am this morning, and woke me with a start. After watching the minutes tick by for a while on the radio alarm clock, I slid silently out of bed, and tip-toed downstairs for a shower, and to find the clothes I had prepared the night before. I didn’t need to be on the far side of London until late morning, but thought it might just be easier to get the early train out of town with the rest of the commuters.
Half an hour later while sitting on the train wondering what to do next, I spotted a familiar face walking towards the next carriage – somebody that I had shared this journey with back during 2007 and 2008. Here he was, still boarding the train early each morning. It was oddly reassuring that some things never appear to change.
After paying for a ticket, I decided against listening to podcasts for a change, and pulled the Kindle from my bag – opening it on a book that took a few moments to recognise. I completely forgot I had bought Felicia Day’s autobiography a while ago, and had it delivered directly to the Kindle. I started reading.
An hour later I had discovered that Felicia Day was essentially the female version of myself (albiet infinitely more amusing, and famous). We were secret soulmates – we should have grown up knowing each other (but then I guess we would not have grown up in the way we did, if we had known each other). I found myself grinning with each turn of a page – recounting numerous experiences from my own childhood and early interactions with the online world. I remembered Compuserve – hell, I still know my username 20 years later.
Arriving at Paddington Station, I stopped reading to watch the world go by, and realised that I couldn’t do both. If I continued reading in my bubble, I wouldn’t get to see the girl putting makeup on opposite me on the underground train, or the immaculately dressed Virgin air hostess on the platform at Ealing Broadway. I would however have seen the slim blonde girl trip on the stairs towards the underground platform, and grab the handsome stranger alongside her to avoid falling. Professional – no – expert level move.
I’m now sitting in Pret a Manger alongside the Tower of London. Somewhere buried in the rabbit warren of streets at the far end of the paved area is a “DLR” railway station – the “Docklands Light Railway”. I have to find it, and navigate my way to a faceless office block near London City Airport to deliver a demonstration of cleverness to a room full of strangers. And that’s all I can write about that.
For the next ten minutes though, I can sit here and watch the world go by. A Kardashian lookalike just walked past the window of the cafe with her phone on a selfie stick, pointing at herself. She is walking towards the Tower of London – a millenia old relic – filming herself as she approaches. Unbelievable.
I guess I should save this and continue on my way. Wish me luck.
(Five and a half hours pass)
Now sitting on the final train of my journey home. I’ve been fighting tiredness for the last hour. At one point after leaving London I think I actually fell asleep for a few moments, and had a dream where I was snearing at somebody for some reason (not entirely sure why – I never snear in real life) – and woke with a start, wondering if I had been snearing in the real world too. I guess I’ll never know. Hopefully everybody nearby got a good laugh if I did (not that anybody spends their time on public transport watching everybody elses facial expressions, but still…)
With a little luck I’ll stay awake just long enough for the train to dump me at my home station, before staggering home just in time to meet the kids returning from a day at their holiday activity camp, and to discover that I need to wash up, go and buy food for dinner, and a hundred other things.
In another universe I’m probably one of those assholes that pretends to work late every night to avoid helping with my family, but I’m neither that sneaky, that nasty, or that clever. As much as I complain about the endless succession of chores, in reality I love spending time with my family – no matter what I happen to be doing.
Train is moving. Stay awake. Stay awake.
Did I ever tell you the story about the time I fell asleep on the way home from London, and woke with a line of dribble on my tie, and two teenage girls across the carriage from me giggling about something? No? Thought not, because I would never have done anything like that, honest…