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Thursday, July 26

Waterloo, Sunset

I'll be honest, I didn't truly think last night through properly. I was winging it. As a result, things got a bit off kilter. Or did they go pear shaped? I quite like the shape of pears, so probably not pear shaped. They were certainly not hourglass shaped either. There's another nice sort of a shape. Erm. A shape I don't like. Perhaps avocado. The avocado is, essentially, pear shaped. However, when you get closer to it, the avocado is actually very very lumpy. It has a miserable complexion. Maybe it should moisturise. Perhaps it should use this:

Anyway, last night went avocado shaped, after a promising start.

I managed to get a suitable train from the area in which I work in the direction of London. It took a couple of stops and then blasted through to Waterloo. I used the opportunity to prepare for tonight's show. This timed perfectly with the arrival at the far end.

Once in London, I took appropriate trains towards my meeting near Liverpool Street station. I had my malfunctioning MP3 player stuttering its way through some good music. I must find out whether this malfunction is permanent. If so, I'm going to end up buying something. Having a working MP3 player has become an essential. I'm not sure I'm ready to let iTunes take over my life, especially given what I've heard about its method of resynchronising with the iPod. Gulp! I'll no doubt be blogging about this at some point.

The meeting went exactly to plan and then I hurried my way across London to meet my family for a meal in North London. I arrived before my food did - I'd ordered from the tube. Thankfully, the service in this particular restaurant lived up to its reputation as unhurried. On the stairs leading up to the restaurant, I noticed a sign that apologised for any disturbance their redecoration might be causing. It said "Sorry for any inconvenient this may have caused". The sign has been corrected from the original "inconvienient" to have the "i" removed. I took this as carte-blanche to correct the sign some more. I crossed out the "t" and added a "ce". Well, if you're going to put a sign up...

I enjoyed that.

The food and company were good.

The service remained excessively mediocre (is that even possible?).

There were comments from my fellow diners "are you sure you're not going to miss your train?". My answer was a resolute "I have no idea". I imagined that trains would run up until about 1am. You imagine these things when you imagine that you live in a modern country with a vaguely coherent transport system. I must emphasise that these are things I imagined, rather than things I believe to be true in the cold light of day.

Getting from North London back to Waterloo station in the south should be a pretty simple thing to do. You get on the Northern Line, wait about 20 or so minutes and then you're there. However, the train I was on decided, part way through its journey, to change the direction it was going in. I had been bound for the Charing Cross branch of the Northern Line, but decided to go on the Bank branch instead. I know it was the correct train when I got on it. I missed any announcements, owing to my MP3 player fitfully playing further tunes into my ears.

So, I had to get off, go back a stop, switch lines, and then go in the right direction. However, there was a notice saying that the Northern Line was suspended from about two stops before Waterloo. I'm resourceful though. The Bakerloo Line follows the same path as the Northern Line from Charing Cross, which is where I got off and switched lines. Now... I noticed as I left the train that was on the Northern Line, which was supposed to be suspended from Charing Cross, that nobody else was getting off. Perhaps they did after I'd left I've no idea.

All this switching of trains and lines will have added 15 minutes in walking and waiting time. It's no surprise to the wily reader that this is leading to the bit where I get to Waterloo and find that there is no train going where I wanted to go. Let's take that as read.

What do you do in this situation? I did the thing that was most sensible. I drew out some money from the nearest cash point and then considered my options. When you're trying to route something to its destination, you can spend ages calculating the optimal route, considering all the options. Or, if time is pressing and you want a near-optimal result, you send the thing on the first and quickest thing going in the right general direction.

Thus, I found myself on a train to Woking. Woking!

At Woking, I got a taxi to Farnborough. In fact, I already looked at a map (Google maps on the mobile phone) to establish how far it was, and looked up a mini cab firm to order a taxi from. They turned out to be located about half a minute's walk from the station. They talked me from the platform to their office. Outside their office a guy tried to bundle me into his car. Firstly, I spoke with the dispatcher to make sure that I wasn't being abducted. Then I got in the Passat and let the guy drive.

I tried to chat with this guy, whom I think came from Pakistan. I got that from the fact that he mentioned Pakistan at some point during the "conversation". I say conversation in that I know we both made the effort to talk during the journey. His command of the English language was, to put it mildly, limited. However, he tried and I certainly speak less Urdu than he speaks English.

I could tell that we were just saying words at each other. Still, we valiantly plodded on.

We arrived at Frimley station. He was about to pull in when I said "I wanted to go to Farnborough. This is Frimley". He thought about it and then said to himself "Frim-ley... Farn-borough..." I helpfully added "Farnborough is the next one - about 5 more miles". We continued on, and he rehearsed the name "Farn-borough" a couple more times, throwing the occasional "Frim-ley" into the equation. By the end of the journey, and after he'd followed the road signs to "Farn-borough" we arrived at my car. Job done.

Then I drove home. Legally.

I'm not suggesting that my taxi-driving associate has no legal right to drive in this country. I'm simply pointing out that I presently do have one, and that I wasn't about to compromise it further by driving illegally.

A shower and then bed. To sleep, perchance to wake up tired.


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