Friday, December 28, 2007

The Little Commuter

I hope everyone who reads this (and - heck, why not? - everyone else too) had a great Christmas and is looking forward to a Happy New Year). For myself and The Wife it has been a unique experience, what with the arrival shortly before the end of term of our very own Little Commuter. I won't go into too much detail, lest I start to babble uncontrollably in joy unconfined. Suffice it to say that all of my hopes and fears of the last nine and a half months have been distilled into one tiny being that I both love unconditionally and fear with a kind of awe I have never felt before. He is impossibly perfect.

I saved up my leave so am taking an extended break to take care of my family. I shall be back on the rails at the end of January. In the meantime, no doubt this blog will act as a repository for those moments of epipany that will continue to strike us every time we ponder our creation.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

The secret of Happy Commuting

It is a great shame that Wifi internet access has yet to become available on the suburban train network, as I suspect that by the time I actually manage to put this up online I will be sitting at home in front of my computer with a hot drink and maybe even a flapjack, and the raw emotions I am currently feeling with be considerably dulled by time and distance. Nevertheless, I am going to attempt to distil exactly what the secret of Happy Commuting is in a few short paragraphs, for the benefit of all those of you who may one day soon find yourselves in the same position I find myself tonight – wet, hungry, tired, aching, wet (again) and uncomfortsbly aware of the bloke sitting next to me with his bag of crisps and their deafeningly loud crunch.

I left the office ten minutes early yet still late, this evening. I had meant, you see, to catch the half past six train back to the Beautiful Market Town where I live with my gorgeous wife and our soon-to-be offspring. Sadly, complications involving a urinal, a pdf and a recycling bin (and I mean multiple complications, not just one big complication involving all three) had conspired to make me miss that one. I did manage to leave the office at about twenty past, and ventured out into the rain, clutching my rucksack under my arm, the better to keep it dry. On reaching the bus stop I found it crowded, but a long bendy 73 bus approaching which, I felt confident, would afford plenty of room. Sadly, it was packed, so I bolted across to Tottenham Court Road station to try to get on a Tube, and was acquainted with the reason why the bus was so full – one of the busiest Underground stations in London was closed on a Friday night in rush hour.

I headed off down Tottenham Court Road itself intending to get to Warren Street and get a Tube there, but amazingly was able to pick up another 73 (this one only slightly less full) halfway there. Running my fingers through my dripping locks (umbrellas are a hindrance when moving at speed down a London street), I insinuated myself squelchingly into a space that my fellow passengers had not realised was there, glanced at my watch, and steeled myself for a nail-biting ride to Kings Cross where I might yet have a chance of catching my train. We flew down the usually-slow-moving Tottenham Court Road and before I knew it we were at Euston, mere minutes away from Kings Cross and the sanctity of the 18:53, traffic conditions willing.

Now of course you can guess what happened next, can’t you?

We hit traffic just outside Euston, then got caught up in a bus bottleneck trying to get out of the station. Then we hit another bottleneck at the next set of lights, another one halfway up Euston Road, and I eventually reached the platform to see the 18:53 pulling away in front of me (oddly enough this always happens, no matter how late I am – something to do with narrative imperative. Perhaps).

So, I am now on the 19:23, setting in my damp clothes typing while my tummy rumbles and the guy next to me munches away on his aromatic and noisy crisps. And yet, despite all this, I am strangely cheerful. A sort of beatific calm has come over me and I find myself pondering fondly this strange and addictive habit. Resignation, I think I would call it. There’s nothing I can do about it, no point getting wound up, it’s nobody’s fault (it’s the system, you see). So I may as well try to use the time productively. I’ve already made four calls on my mobile phone, availed myself of some cash for a taxi at the other end (I’m treating myself), and now written a new blog entry, something I’ve been meaning to do all week.

What a useful little interlude. Time wasted on a train reframed as Time I Didn’t Know I Had, Put To Good Use. And that, my friends, is the secret of Happy Commuting.