Friday, 7 November 2008

Blogging without a PC

Yesterday I went to visit one of our long-term customers in London, to see how we could best help them handle things when we're gone. As I was on public transport and wanted to travel light I left the laptop behind, but once stimulated by the journey I just wanted to blog. There is a lot to be said for writing by hand, and that's exactly what I did: roughly 3 sides of A4.

So here it is, pretty much 'as is'.


Train travel is curious after being a car user for so long. Heading to central London on a commuter train this AM, the train is smoother and quieter than I remember. Most passengers are guys in suits using laptops - wished I'd brought mine, especially as there's probably an open wireless connection here too. But the work laptop is really a portable desktop and I'm happy to be just carrying a small zipped organiser and pad.

The countryside out there is lovely. Green, brown, yellow, red: rolling and sweeping. The chilterns always were lovely, although I'd normally be viewing them from the saddle instead of a carriage. No-one is looking - most people probably see it everyday. I suspect, based on the way I am, that when you notice these things then you want to be out among them. And being out doesn't pay the bills or bring prestige. It is safer not to notice and be happy with whatever career one is trying to build.

I can hear one voice carrying over all the others. A chunky lass is briefing an older (60ish) guy about finances, councils, charges, growth, potentials and arguments.

From here I can see a number of shiny shaved heads. Some belong to 'smart' people, others to ordinary guys. Apart from the big lass there's only men in the carriage. Everyone is in their own world - earphones, PCs, mobiles and the woman/old feller being briefed.

London arrives. First the ground flattens and colours dull. Then buildings, car parks and concrete appears. We pass a couple of places with 'tube' trains parked. Pre-fab buildings, all corrugated sheet steel, bridges, a Tesco store, graffiti covered walls and houses and then the rows of cheap family homes from the 1900s, now with dirty yellow brickwork and concrete rendering painted white and yellow.

There was a time, up until about 5 years ago, when I'd have been happy to move back. Now it seems so grubby, so densely packed I'm not at all sure. Maybe an apartment somewhere higher up and central. I'd have to have another motorcycle for getting around, use public transport when it was wet.

Or not.

Last Friday when we went to that funeral, the house in which Chris's uncle Laurie lived was right by the Thames. Back windows faced westand the sun setting over the river looked spectacular. London has a lot of green space and you could forget that you lived in one of the largest and most cosmopolitan cities on the planet. But walk out of the front door and that idea goes to hell-in-a-hangbasket, with parking at £1.80 per hour and no spaces to speak of. Fulham palace road is almost always jammed up too, and although driving isn't really worse than other cities, because of the sheer size (>1 hour to drive across) that makes it feel closed in.

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Interesting meeting.

Met the guy who supervises the lab. He said he was really looking forward to hearing about all the new markers we were going to suggest they used. They were a bit taken aback by us explaining that the lab was closing and they would need to manage/run their own assays now.
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Interesting the things you see travelling in the opposite direction. Like the large blue IKEA building.

London was fascinating to walk around. This area seemed much nicer and cleaner than the area I grew up in - no litter, tidy houses, neat shops. And once again I was reminded of how much open green space and parkland there is. By comparison Oxfordshire has little space for leisure, even though you can walk across fields.

Thinking about the idea of Linea and Leo, Marc and Dixie coming over, this journey into London on the train is one I think they'd love, but it's so darn expensive. £45 for me (because I left before 9.00am) but even at the £25 cheap rateit's stupid expensive compared to driving 4 people in with a car and parking somewhere closer.

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