Sunday, 31 August 2014

London calling

Friday brought with it the necessity to go to London. This activity is a front-runner in any list of things I'd rather avoid doing, along with drowning, electrocution, and listening to Mariah Carey.
Unfortunately on this occasion it was unavoidable owing to a hospital appointment, so having done all my homework to ensure I knew exactly where I was going, and with the wife to help me maintain my sanity (she lived there for a few years) if things got the better of me, we set off.
We only got as far as Cambridge before they somehow broke the train coupling two together, so we hopped onto another which turned out to be the one that stopped at every station on the way.
Arriving at Kings Cross, we had the usual culture shock. The sudden change in tempo from a quiet Fenland village to a huge multi-cultural metropolis like London is a major one and it takes a while to adjust.
First came a visit to Costa Coffee - a familiar oasis in a sea of madness - having managed to negotiate the crowds of tourists who seem unable to carry their luggage these days, insisting instead on dragging it around behind them on wheels to increase their chances of tripping up anyone else who dared get too close. There was also the unusual sight of armed cops around the station - not unusual for London, but it's not something I see every day in my hum-drum little life. The wife found it a bit unnerving, but I felt somehow reassured seeing large blokes carrying AR-15 rifles and Glock pistols wandering around. Far less worrying than someone wearing one of those black bin liners with a slit for the eyes in it. What are they hiding?
Having navigated the underground to Victoria and escaped the crowds, we arrived at our destination far too early as usual, so we walked to the river so I could get a look at Battersea power station.

Pity about all the cranes spoiling the view of
such a stunning bit of architecture...

While we stood there, a foreign tourist came along and asked me to take a photo of him with the power station in the background. It made more sense when he said he was a Pink Floyd fan, and wanted a picture of himself with the subject of the 'Animals' album cover. I admit I thought that was kinda cool.
Back at Kings Cross, the wife was surprised at the complete absence of rubbish bins when trying to dispose of our empty sandwich wrappers. I suggested it was probably because bins have been used in the past for convenient bomb storage, and picking up the odd bit of dropped litter is probably preferable to picking up large quantities of charred and mangled body parts as a result of some zealot trying to make a political or religious point.
The return journey was surprisingly easy. We managed to secure seats which is more than a lot of people did, as by then it was the beginning of the commuting period.
Despite the obvious overcrowding there were still idiots trying to force their way on to the train with bicycles - not even folding ones - and it made me wonder what would make someone choose to travel in this manner regularly. One can only assume they have little choice in the matter.
Disembarking at Ely and wandering back to the car, a feeling of serenity descended. Being in London heightens your senses, leaving you feeling exhausted. If nothing else, when life starts to feel dull and tedious, a trip to the capital makes you realise just how nice a calm and quiet life really is.