diamond geezer

 Friday, October 02, 2015

What a great and wonderful city London is.

As I woke up yesterday, fumbling for the light switch now that the mornings are drawing in, I gave thanks that my forthcoming day would be spent in the liveliest location in the entire known universe. No quiet country lanes or back-of-beyond cultural backwaters for me, I was slap bang in the middle of the action. Indeed I was somewhere so outstandingly invigorating that for a moment my situation seemed simply impossibly exciting. Millions of foreigners pay a fortune to fly here every year because London is so great, whereas as a resident I get to experience everything it has to offer for nothing. This uplifting realisation helped me bound out of the door with vim and vigour, and I headed to work with a spring in my step.

The autumn chill hit me but I didn't care. I was at one with the capital, alive to the world, and only a little bit cold in my shirtsleeves. Breathing deeply, I sucked the fresh clean air deep into my lungs as a stream of heavy traffic rushed by. Commuting to work in London might just be the healthiest thing that any Briton can do, and then some. I weaved my way through the cones and barriers to cross the main road, beneath a blue sky that brought my immediate neighbourhood into sharp focus. The buildings I was rushing past had a heritage second to none - the hotel that was once a pub, the betting shop that was once a station, the old police station that's now flats, and the new police station that may soon be flats. How excellent that so many of our scarce resources have been brought back to economic life, to the benefit of all.

I was still full of cheer when I reached Mile End station. Stepping off one train I was delighted to see another waiting on the opposite side of the platform, and unusually empty for this time of the morning. Every day in London is a lucky day, and this would be no exception. And OK, so at this point the hi-vis lady on the platform raised her wand and the doors shut, leaving a wave of disgruntled commuters floundering in the middle. And OK, so the next train was three minutes away, which is like forever in the morning rush, and it was rammed, and I only just squeezed in, and I had to stand pressed up to a man-mountain who refused to budge, and possibly hadn't washed, all the way to my destination. And I thought, how brilliant it is that the tube runs to time, rather than hanging around for 20 seconds to collect passengers and disrupting the service. Only in London.

Every office in the capital is a great place to be, and mine is no exception. With the sky blue and cloudless outside the window - a glorious sight - I was especially thrilled that only some of the blinds were down because not all of my sunshine-phobic colleagues had yet arrived. All too swiftly artificial gloom returned, but I didn't care because I was deeply engaged in striving to meet my long term goals. I've a big project underway at the moment, and this was the long-scheduled morning I was due to hand the whole thing over. Carefully I zipped up all the deliverables and fired off an email to the three main clients to announce completion. And back they came, one after the other, three 'Out of Office' emails revealing that not a single one of them was in until next week. Well good for them, I thought, taking advantage of the Indian summer to get out and about, and I felt privileged to have met their unnecessary deadline.

At lunchtime I remembered the wide variety of food outlets available in the immediate vicinity, and how blessed I was to have these levels of choice open to me every day. All the nations of the earth come together in London, bringing together exotic delicacies of every kind in a celebration of unrivalled culinary diversity. So I went down to the office canteen and had burger and chips, because it was nearest, and cheapest, and the least flavoursome, and would allow me to get back to work fastest. In the afternoon I worked on developing my personal brand, because an email from the head of Human Resources said we should. And at the end of the day I remembered the wide variety of cultural and retail opportunities available in the immediate vicinity, and how blessed I was to have such world-beating activity options available to me every day of the year. So I went straight home, as per usual.

I could tell you such tales of my journey home, if only I'd thought to ask my fellow travellers about their lives. Everyone had a story from their homeland, or a secret London location only they knew about, or even a favourite gin-based pop-up cocktail, but alas I enquired about none of these. Instead I buried my head in London's evening newspaper and its excellent journalism, learning which national politicians I should like and dislike, and how the Cereal Cafe charges more for a bowl of Rice Krispies than a box costs in the shops. Once home I ate some white bread instead, this being one of the many types of wheat-based loaf available at London's local boutique supermarkets. I also enjoyed a cup of steaming non-green tea made with London water, enlivened by that extra-special additional mineral tang you just don't get elsewhere.

And then I went to the theatre, because I'd booked expensive tickets months ago. I went to see comedy giant John Finnemore in his Souvenir Cabin, joining an audience of middle class Radio 4 types in occupying half the auditorium. Lots of sketches that had been funny on the radio were performed live, and were equally funny but with the addition of two real people on stage. How brilliant that I live close to the West End, I thought, because I can nip out of an evening and enjoy top notch laughs in person for the same price as ten weeks of licence fee. And when the lights went up after a seriously brief second half, and the audience deduced there wasn't going to be an encore after Captain Dinosaur, we all filed out sort of quietly. I was home by ten with a mug of hot milk. What a great and wonderful city London is.


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