Saturday, 12 December 2015

Long Walk to Freedom

For the longest time, I didn't think I was ever going to get home. Buses were delayed, or just didn't bother to show at all - and I think I'll be trapped, as good as a million miles away from home forever.


I'm out with friends, sat in the rather stunning private member's bar at Picturehouse Central. As I drink my ciders and have a merry conversation with friends, sat around us are David Mitchell and Danny Boyle! It's a bizarre, but totally cool way of spending my Friday night.

Some other friends read my Facebook and realise I'm out. They ask to meet up. In my mind, I want to... but know that if I miss the last train home, commuting back to Greenwich would be a massive bitch. Fuck it, I decide! You only live once, and besides I've said this new chapter of my life would be a more social one. I make the short walk across Soho, and meet these other friends.

That decision comes back to bite me on my pretty bottom! Once I leave, at around 1am, the trains have well and truly stopped - and so, night bus it has to be. Only, I'm left waiting a full hour in the freezing cold... and no bus ever turns up. From Oxford St way, not many buses travel my way. Well, scratch that... only one does. The one that wasn't turning up.

I realise that Jack is at work. Maybe he hasn't finished, and will commute back home with me? So I journey to Liverpool St, on a bus packed as tightly as this:

(Well, ok, not quite THAT bad...!)

As it's a Friday night, everybody is drunk, and generally talking rubbish to one another. I can tolerate this, mind, as I have my earphones in. I listen to lots of songs, ANY song, to drown out the noise of the people around me.

Jack messages that he is getting a 2am bus - meaning I now have a deadline to reach Liverpool St by. Of course, my bus is as slow as anything - and when I get to my destination I miss both Jack, and the bus I need. It's a long 20 minute wait for the next one and so I kill time by finding an appropriate place to take a leak, and doing a bit of late night shopping at Tesco Metro.

I buy a carton of milk.

(That's probably the most important part of this story. Or not.)

My second bus finally arrives, and again it's packed. I'm crushed against one wall of the downstairs area - my only compensation being that a rather attractive lady keeps giving me the eye. Not that I can do anything though as a) I'm trapped against a wall, unable to move, and b) I'm me. Go figure.

After an impossibly long and protracted hour ten bus ride, that includes several impromptu bus diversions and turns (plus everybody but me and the driver falling asleep, it seems) I reach my next destination - Lewisham!

But it's not plain sailing from here!

I reach the next bus stop I must journey from - and it's 25 minutes until the next bus!! Already, it's 3-something AM and I just want to be at home, in bed. Not working anti-social hours anymore, I'm not use to being up this late! To make matters worse a guy comes up to me at the bus stop, and starts to talk. Not to me, ABOUT me. He isn't on the phone or anything; he just feels the need to give a commentary to everything that I do: "He has a carton of milk. It's semi-skinned. He lives on the edge. He's stood reading those bus times in meticulous detail, Etc etc."

Not able to stand the wait, or the company, I decide to walk the next part of my journey. It says it's a 12 minute drive to my next destination - so surely walking it won't take all that long?!

It does.

To spoil the end of this story slightly, I will finally reach home at 5am - a full 4 hours after I set out on this commute!

During the not-quite-2 hours I'm walking though, any frustrations I might have had soon disappear. I enjoy the walk. There's nobody else around, and I'm seeing some truly wonderful things. First of all, I walk through an area called Blackheath. If you haven't heard of it, please do check it out. It reminds me of a typical cliché English village - small, independent shops, built on a hill and around a church. I will have to make an effort to visit again during the daytime!
Then I see a couple. I don't know them, or their story - but their goodbye to one another on a bridge reminds me of more innocent times in my life, when I was a lot younger saying goodbye to my very first girlfriend. I don't think I can convey the emotion in words, but it felt like I was seeing something that's been missing from my life for a while now: young love.

Anyway - you get the point. Long commute. Terrible buses. Walking a lot. Plus, a ton of foxes around. Some of them like cats, willing to come right up to me and investigate this mysterious human in their territory! All in all, it was a bit of an adventure - at a time in my life where adventure is greatly encouraged and appreciated.

Some other random photos:

Tomorrow, I'll post about earlier on in this day. Some exciting developments!
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