London - it's a Different World
20.10.2007 15 °C
Well, it can be said......the Houghtons were sick and tired of being on holiday, yes, I have no hesitation in announcing that to the world! We were delighted to be able to think that, at last, we would continue with our "normal lives" (is there such a thing?) and at last get back into jobs and begin to earn some long awaited British pounds to enable our poor little bank account to recover and keep the bankruptcy proceedings at bay. Celebration at last, the Houghtons have jobs, only thing...... there is "trouble at mill"!
Alas, there is something to be said about commuting in London....and I know that in a week or two we will think nothing of it, because Noel and I will have adapted, but commuting here really is a "life experience" and one that needs to be addressed.....
We should never take for granted how we travel to work....our own car with radio, air-con, automatic, stereo, cd player, driving along the Southern Motorway in a mere 3 lanes of traffic, - a dream come true in our minds....the Pakuranga Highway, Waipuna Bridge, Eastern Arterial .... piece of cake .....! Come and work in London.
We live close to all amenities and public transport, which is fortunate for us as we can use the buses, the tube or the overland train which takes us into one of the busiest(and largest) stations in London (Waterloo) from which the famous Eurostar departs from as well.
Noel works off Oxford Street. I work off Fleet Street. Journey time takes one hour (easy stuff we hear you say!). HELL NO! Both of us leave together in the mornings (after a 6.30am alarm) and we head off on different tube lines to be at work by 9am. But what a trek.....no matter what time you leave in the mornings, the tube arrives at the station to a very packed platform. The double doors on the train open wide and you just cannot get on the train ...the commuters are squeeezed in like sardines, the isles are jammed packed, the windows fogged up on the train, and although we look up at those lucky ones on board with pleading eyes to let us on, no one says a word, no one even looks at us, the doors suddenly close, the tube chugs away, you remain left behind, and again you wait for the next tube ......and time ticks by.....
And the same thing happens, another packed train full of commuters, too full to allow you on, and again you step back and wait .....and again....what? third time lucky.....we wish!! And suddenly you realise you have spent 15 minutes trying to leave the station! Time ticks by .....9am is creeping up real quick!
But what's weird about this whole scenario is that the English never complain about it, our workmates just shrug their shoulders and carry on with their work, I seem to arrive in a huff and puff and ready to blow hot air around the room, just to recover from my morning commute, hot and sweaty (yuck), but the POMS are blase and just continue on with their working day....you gotta admire them for their patience and politeness, no road rage (er should I say tube rage) here, I guess that's why we love Londoners so much!
The time will come (and I think sooner rather than later) when Noel and I won't even notice a packed tube, people pressing themselves up against you and invading personal space without making eye contact, still reading their paper in the process, holding on to anything for balance, a full platform, a queue to get through the "oyster barriers", a long ride up the escalator to the top, that feeling of cold fresh air against your face as you head for the station exit. This, we realise, is London. This is how one commutes, conquer this, you will accept the London lifestyle.
For those of you who know London, we spied out a great tee-shirt ...."Mind the Gap" is recited thousands of time over the loud speaker through all the stations to deal with the wide gap between the platform and the tube train. We found a great tee shirt in a souvenir shop which sums up the daily commute in this wonderful city of London ...."f**** the gap!" We just gotta buy that soon!
Job wise though all going well, we are both fitting in nicely, getting on with our jobs, coming to terms with having no coffee or tea making facilities on site, and having no proper lunch hour, no one seems to leave their desks all day, and sharing an office, desks, phones, stationery, printers, with about 50 other colleagues no windows or natural light.......gotta love London. Maybe our kiwi employers want us back??! You can see why we question ourselves as to why we are here.....!
We had Teva (Noel's golfing buddie) stay at the Fool em Flat who enjoyed a golf game at Stockley Golf Course last week (Noel won 2 and 1) much to Teva's disgust. He reckoned the room service wasn't up to scratch! We caught up with our lovely Danish friends at the surprise dinner in Nottinghill last weekend, Kirsten, Bende and Regina (lots of laughter), we caught up quickly with Carol Woods and Suzanne from Howick (on Sunday) in a quiet little mews street right behind the hustle and bustle of Knightsbridge and enjoyed a drink, great girls, great kiwis, great fun....
Better go, have a train to catch (ha ha).....we are heading to Edinburgh this weekend to enable Moundie and Noel to play golf at St Andrews (no doubt another adventure follows), and I am catching up with a NZ couple whom I have not seen since 1985! Keep up the good work on the emails, we love hearing from you all, from a rather "harrassed working couple of commuters"! Til next time, Elsie and Noel!