The Early Train to London

It’s 6:31am, and I’m sitting on the train to London Paddington railway station. One of the advantages of travelling so early is the train is almost empty. I’m wondering if getting up this early is a sign of getting older? I keep hearing stories about old people getting up at ridiculous times in the morning – which no doubt explains how they manage to out shopping when everybody else is trying to get to work.

I’m hoping to get to my eventual destination an hour early, so I can find a cafe and chill out for a bit – grab some breakfast, have a coffee, and perhaps fall asleep at the table. I’ll be spending the rest of the day at a “partner event” – nothing to do with personal relationships – more to do with technology companies. I imagine my day will be spent sitting at the back of a lecture theatre, and being plied with canapes and more coffee throughout. I will be recognised on arrival, and will stear conversation entirely away from work if at all possible.

It’s still dark outside. Really dark. Properly dark. The train is bobbling around as it thunders towards London, but you can’t see a damn thing from the windows, other than an occasional house window or street light flashing past. At least the train is a new one with power sockets, and comfy seats – I’m taking advantage, and giving the Chromebook a drink of electricity en-route. That’s right – I’m going with the Chromebook rather than my work laptop today. It weighs half as much, and lasts all day on a charge (or at least it would if I had remembered to plug it in last night – hence charging it right now).

I have no idea what sort of time we will arrive at Paddington – I didn’t really factor that into getting up early. This appears to be the fast train. I guess we’ll see.

Several hours pass…

The underground was remarkably quiet this morning. After half an hour reading the free newspapers that are given out en-masse, I arrived at Blackfriars, and climbed out into a London soaked with rain, with commuters running in all directions, and tradesmen delivering to pubs, bars, and restaurants at every turn. I wandered in the direction of my eventual destination for the day, and spotted a McDonalds. I think I might be addicted to their breakfast wraps, so put my order in, and quietly stood waiting.

Somebody tapped me on the shoulder. The same guy I live five minutes walk from – that I was supposed to be meeting at our eventual destination in an hour’s time was standing behind me, grinning. I guess great minds think alike – it still made us both laugh though – that we had travelled across the countryside and city together, and had the same idea at the same time, arriving at the same place as each other for breakfast.

A few minutes later a third co-worker arrived, and we sat together eating rubbish, drinking gallons of coffee, and catching up with one another.
I can’t write a thing about the next seven hours. Or perhaps I can. We were all shown non-disclosure agreements while sitting around a conference room table, offered endless cups of coffee, pastries, sandwiches, and chocolate bars while trying to concentrate on slide decks, conversations, and repeated calls of “what we are about to tell you doesn’t leave this room”. It was a good day.

I’m now sitting on the main-line train towards home. I imagine I’ll get back at about 7:30pm.

Something has been bugging me since leaving London. I stood in the middle of a London Underground carriage earlier, and repeatedly noticed men taking seats when women were standing. Call me old fashioned, but in my mind men should always offer vacant seats to women if they are able to do so – that didn’t happen at all. I’m not sure if it’s a London thing, a Millennial thing, or what. I’m sure some women will see this, and shout at me about equality, but I like to think that some traditions are upheld – women are on an uneven playing field as it is, without men being bigger assholes than they need to be.

Another couple of hours pass…

I’m home now. Dinner was made from a leftover ready-meal in the fridge, eaten alone at the dinner table while my other half drove back and forth across town to fetch Miss 13 from football training. Half an hour later and I’m in the junk room, finishing writing this up. Forgive me if I don’t write much more – I’m running on empty once again.

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