After another day stood at a lectern, pretending to know what I was talking about, I finally escaped late in the afternoon, and began dragging my suitcase along the ten minute walk to the nearest tram station, while trying to install the app that would supposedly let me buy a ticket. It took me the entire ten minute walk, and another ten minutes waiting for a tram to turn up to fill out my details in the app, and purchase a ticket. I should have just put money in the machine on the station platform.
The trip towards the railway station in the middle of Manchester was uneventful. Given that I had been standing up all day, and now had a backpack and a suitcase to look after too, I could really have done with sitting down somewhere, but the tram was rammed with people.
After perhaps 25 minutes we rumbled into Manchester Piccadilly, and I made straight for the automated machines selling tickets. One ticket to Leeds. I didn’t look at home much it cost – I just waved the credit card at it that is becoming increasingly close to nuclear implosion.
It turned out the train to Leeds was parked just across from the information boards I squinted at while some hapless student tried to get me to sign up for a charity. I apologised, and walked straight onto yet another packed train, consigning myself to standing for another hour. I didn’t want to sit on my suitcase because it had all my shirts in for the rest of the week.
We finally rolled into Leeds at about 6:30pm, leaving me with just the walk through the cobblestone streets towards my hotel – alongside the canals that my late Grandfather once sailed barges up and down.
After dumping bags in the hotel, I called home before heading out to a pizza restaurant next door. I sat alone, playing with my mobile phone while waiting for a drink and some food to arrive at my table. While eating, a succession of other people arrived, sitting on their own, making their orders, and waiting for their own food.
Travelling alone with work is a strangely lonely experience sometimes – particularly when you live in a family of five, where there’s always something happening, where everybody is talking over each other at mealtimes, and where there’s always something to do. Wandering around on your own, and sitting in a quiet hotel room on your own is unsettling.
Tomorrow is another client. Another company. Another room full of strangers. Another pile of expectations, and judgement. I’m beginning to wonder how long I can keep doing this for.