The alarm went off at 5am this morning. I don’t remember switching it off – I’m guessing my body did that curious auto-pilot trick where you wake up a few moments before the alarm, and silence it. After sliding out of bed and stumbling off in the direction of the shower, getting dressed, and sorting my backpack out, I wandered off towards the first train out of town.
It always strikes me how quiet the streets are first thing on a morning. Granted, I was headed to the station at 5:40am, but I really didn’t see a single soul. When I sat in the first carriage of the waiting train and bought a ticket, the train staff member was the first person I had seen all morning. Until a few moments later, when an old friend sat down next to me, grinning at me.
We hadn’t seen each other for a year or so, and spend the entire journey into London talking non-stop. It made the journey a pleasure, rather than a burden, and also made me realise that I need to work harder at visiting old friends. When your children are at school together you cross paths almost every week – then as they grow up, you need to make the effort rather than relying on chance. We have not been making any effort.
We said our goodbyes at Paddington Station – heading in different directions across the city. I thought about descending into the Underground, but after checking the time and realising I had over an hour to spare, some sort of crazy impulse caused me to walk out of the station, and begin walking towards Kings Cross (my eventual destination) on foot.
When you think about it, walking “on foot” is a stupid expression. What else are you going to do? Walk on your hands? Walk on stilts?
Google Maps informs me that the walk is 2.7 miles. It took me about 45 minutes, which included nerding out from time to time taking random photos of anything that took my interest. Upon arrival I checked my watch, and thought “I’ve got time to get something to eat for breakfast” – and happened to be stood outside McDonalds at the time. Guess who bought a “Mc Breakfast Wrap” and a coffee (no prizes, I’m afraid).
While sitting upstairs in McDonalds sipping my coffee and stuffing my face, I started to hear a strange snuffling noise. It got louder, and louder. I looked sideways – almost in fear. There was an old coloured guy sat in the corner with a newspaper, and a coffee, and he had fallen asleep. A member of staff wandered over to him after a few moments and told him he would have to leave – that he couldn’t sleep in the restaurant. He woke with a start, and claimed he was till drinking his coffee. I couldn’t figure out if he was homeless, and this was a clever ruse to keep warm and dry, or if he was just an old man that fell asleep.
The rest of the day will remain cloaked in secrecy as far as this blog is concerned – suffice to say that I arrived at 8:20am for the 8:30am meeting, and then discovered that the meeting wouldn’t be starting until 10am. Wonderful.
“Still, means you’re here nice and early, doesn’t it”.
“Yes, yes it does.”
This evening I fell asleep on the train coming home while messaging a friend on WhatsApp. I’m not entirely sure how long I was out for, but the train slowing for a station I had to switch trains at caused me to wake comedically with a start. Thankfully I had just enough wits about me to realise what was going on, to grab my bag, and to make a run for it. I made the connection and laughed at my own stupidity.