Thursday, October 05, 2006

City of compromise

As I look outside at the rain - which is not really rain but a heavy mist - in the cold - but not quite cold just chilly - London day, one word comes to mind: compromise.

London is a city of oxymorons and compromises. Now don't think this is going to be a rant about the weather, as for those that know me, know I love the cold. I enjoy the rain and the wind doesn't bother me. Basically, if you think it's shit, I'd probably like it.

But I digress. I've been here for just on five months now and in that time I've had three of the worst colds of my life. But never mind, there's a chemist on every corner; they're more common than 7-11s. Compromise.

London is an expensive city. I got up on Sunday morning, went downstairs, filled my water bottle and went back up to bed. When I got there I had spent 47 pounds, written six IOUs and had an invoice for a walking tax.
But yet the amount of free shit that is handed out on street corners is ludicrous. Tea bags is a biggy, and oh my god how the locals love that stuff - more precious than oil. I've nearly been bowled over on London Bridge when I got between a man and his free tea bags. No compromise there.


"Don't worry, we have enough tea for you all!"

Juices, deodarant, tissues, the list goes on. Not only do you get a free morning newspaper (Metro), but have two (LondonLite & The London Paper) in the afternoon. So militant are they at giving these things away that if the people who hand them out don't give enough away they get sacked. Compromise.

Now I don't mind work, in fact, I enjoy going to work. After I've woken up some random weekday and sorted out how I got home, where my wallet is and why I've got free moustache rides scrawled across my face in red marker, I'm okay to go to work. It's just the journey on the train that no one looks forward to. So everyone trudges in to Clapham Junction station in a sour mood, but as you wander through, above you are large flat screens playing happy music to pep you up, and it actually does a little. Compromise.

But London is built on public transport. You don't need a car (and if you did you're slogged with more taxes than Ron Jeremy has STDs) so you rely on buses and trains. London's buses are always arrive on time - it's just that it's not exactly the schudeled one. Now I know this happens all around the world, but I have been to a few places in my few years and the convoy of buses that appear at the same time here is truly fascinating. Last week while waiting for a bus none off the five appeared when they should have, but they all showed up at once, some 15 minutes after the first one was due. "We may be late getting there, but jeez, when we show up, we show up in force (kind of like the Americans and World Wars)". Compromise.

Now trains. I have just gone from the Tube to the National Rail, or overland, as it is known. Now the tube tends to be okay on the time factor, but is boiling hot, smelly and dirty, while the overland has new, airconditioned cleaner trains, but the time table is up the wazoo. Compromise.

The overland is, well, overland (not underground) and there are multiple tracks, this causes some confusion. Such as my experience on Tuesday. After a collective moan was let off from Platform 4 when we were told the 8.04 to Waterloo had been cancelled, you can imagine the surprise when the 8.04 to Waterloo showed up... on Platform 3. Compromise.

Or the conductor telling everyone on Platform A at Waterloo East that their train had been cancelled and the next one would be on Platform C so make their way there. What he didn't tell them was that the train on Platform C has just pulled in so that they had 15 second to sprint up and down two flights of stairs and a distance of 60 metres. Funny stuff. What was funnier was that the train on Platform A wasn't cancelled, just late, so they had to sprint back. Bet the smart arse announcer was wetting himself in his booth. Annoyed the hell out of me, but made me laugh. Compromise.

It's pissing down rain, wet and cold, and I'm told it will only get worse. But when the rain clears there's always a rainbow. Compromise.
Struth I'm a poetic bugger ain't I?

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