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{26/01/2012}   Finding Inspiration – Commuting Hell

I’ve had a dog-turd-on-the-shoe-discovered-half-way-across-your-carpet kind of work day.  And I’m now sitting here trying desperately to think of something light and lovely to write about.  Frankly, there was little of wonder and joy about my day and now I’m just on the white wine awaiting a roast chicken dinner (a bit of salvation!).  But, damn it, I will think of something.

[Bloody big pause]  I am increasingly finding it very difficult to write every day.  I know, I am going to have a rant to let off steam about commuting.

I think it’s safe to say that commuting is horrid and expensive.  I usually commute on the high-speed train from Folkestone to St Pancras (56 minutes, $153 (that should be a pound sign but I don’t have a pound sign on this laptop!) a week including Tubes).  That is cripplingly expensive (but conversely my rent is cheap for a lot of space) but the train part is, honestly, a joy.  I usually sit by myself, the train is usually on time, it’s comfortable and I get things done.

This week I’m back in Peckham.  It takes 7 minutes to get to London Bridge by train, a further 8ish minutes to get from London Bridge to Charing Cross, then, for this job, a c15 minute walk.

But before I cottoned onto the second train and walk option, I had used the Tube for a few days.  It was hell.  I had built up a sweat from standing on the train.  The Tube was even hotter.  I had a wheelie case (full of equipment) and a handbag.  People are so hideously tutty about your having big bags on public trains.  Do you know what, I bet I hate it and have an even worse time of it than you, Mr/Ms Pushy-Pushy-Tutty-Tutty.  Grrrr.

Unlike other countries, we pay more for the – privilege?  Really? – of travelling in rush hour.  Yet the odds of sitting down unless you wait for the fifth tube (which I have done before and not got to sit down still) are so slim it’s a safe bet you won’t sit down.  And if you did, you would have bags resting on your knees, people would trip over your feet, bags, etc, and people no more worthy than you to have a seat would look at you like you should let them sit down instead.  Guilt-sitting is not much fun either, though I see merits in altering my mind-set to it being smug-sitting.

I have been on tubes and trains with pregnant friends.  They don’t always get a seat.  People on crutches or otherwise obviously in discomfort aren’t guaranteed a seat.  Elderly people aren’t guaranteed a seat.  People tend to look down to try and pretend they haven’t noticed said people in the hope they can retain their seat, relatively guilt free.  I guarantee you’ll feel far better if you offer someone in need your seat.  And you can smugly watch as other sitters lower their heads in deserved shame.  But really, we should all have a bit of comfort and space.

I used to live in Japan and, yes, I did experience the legendary passengers-onto-train-shovers.  It’s their job to cram everyone onto the train.  Being taller than the average person there made it a little more tolerable but it does rate higher on the unacceptability stakes than the London Tube.  Just.  And largely because you have the indignity of a gloved hand literally shoving you into a space you feel sure you shouldn’t fit into.  Then, zip, you’re in.  And off.  And it smells and you can hardly breath for bodies embedded in you.  But at least there’s air conditioning so it’s not as stifling as London Tubes.

One of these days I do worry that someone will drive me to a punch up.  I’m not proud of this character flaw where my patience is concerned but, really, some people are rude, obnoxious, smelly, unreasonable, intolerant and should shut up and get a taxi instead of pressing their sweaty body against me, especially if it’s apparent they also have a cold, the germs of which I can almost see flying my way.  Ugh.  *shudder*

And then you get to do the same going home.  Except it’s kind of worse really because people are far less fresh, if you get my meaning!

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