diamond geezer

 Thursday, April 30, 2009

Last year London held a Walk To Work Day. This year the UK is holding a Walk To Work Week. The idea's the same. Make a one-off trip to work on foot - either the whole journey or more of it than usual - then pledge to fit more walking into your working day in the future. It'll be good for your health, it'll be good for your waistline, and it'll be better than being crammed on a train or stuck in a bus or jammed in a car. Ignore how cold and wet you might get. Ignore all the extra time it'll take. Just concentrate on the benefits. And get walking.

So yesterday I walked to work. All the way to work. It meant waking up an hour earlier than usual to arrive at the normal time, but that was a small price to pay for keeping off the tube. It was a gorgeous day, and I'd have the sun behind me all the way, so I risked going coatless in the early morning chill. Good choice, as it turned out. Porridge gulped and shoes laced, I set off along Bow Road on my way towards the City. Five miles to go. Best foot forward.

early morning WhitechapelEast End pavements are quiet at half past six in the morning. The Tower Hamlets hose-down squad take this opportunity to water-blast the litterbins along the Mile End Road. A few early commuters aim for the tube. London's invisible army of overnight cleaners heads home to bed. Whitechapel Market slowly emerges from the back of a fleet of unbranded vans. A handful of bench-bound blokes quaff silently from 2-litre green bottles - because it's never too early in the day for the first glug of White Lightning. It'll get rowdier later.

All along my walk I was teased and tempted by every tube station I passed. I could have been down there a few feet below the roadway, taking the easy route to work, but I resisted. My time-consuming journey reminded me how the advent of public transport transformed London. Two centuries ago I'd not have wanted to live five miles from work, I'd have lived much closer. London small. Anything to avoid a three hour daily pedestrian commute. And now the city's workers can all live much further out, so we do. London big. Which makes walking to work a occasional lunatic activity.

Cross into the City proper and the narrow streets thicken. It's an early start for many, stepping blearily from the suburbs and filing dutifully towards their desks. On the way they pause to pick up a coffee - there was no time for breakfast at home - and mmmm that smells nice, go on, a lightly-greased croissant too. The sun fails to penetrate the shadowy canyons between the high blocks and skyscrapers, and everywhere a swarm of dark suits and black jackets scuttles on.

I reached my desk about an hour and a half after setting out. I wasn't knackered, I wasn't panting, and I wasn't visibly sweaty. Pity really, because it would have been nice if at least one of my fellow colleagues had noticed and asked me why I was flushed and grinning. Instead my ambulatory saintliness went unheeded. But I'm glad I gave the healthy option a try, because it'd been a fascinating journey across a very varied cross section of London. And maybe that's why, stepping out of the office into the afternoon sunlight eight hours later, I decided to walk all the way home too.

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

my flickr photostream