Friday, 19 June 2009


Middle of June, and here I am sitting in an autumn wind at the Woodman in Highgate, trying to breathe deeply and take stock before my head explodes. This pub has featured fleetingly in my life, and has swung from dire to reasonable to poncey. The last is where it is now, with no real crisps, just 'hand cooked virgin olive oil drizzled jersey royals' with parmesan and sun dried tomatoes, bowls of olives and cheese puffs (wtf?) for £1.50 each. It does have free wi-fi, however, and this extends to the garden, which would be great if the bloody laptop wasn't in danger of being blown away.

Some years ago (more than I care to mention) I decided to jack my job in and go and do something less boring instead. As a long-term plan, it didn't really work out, but as a few days bumming around the south of France it was fine. The long and the short of it was that I ended up back in the Smoke with a grand total of £8 to my name, and a good deal of hitchhiking experience under my belt.

The only far-sighted thing I had done before leaving my job was to keep the key to an office in which I used to work, and which was empty while awaiting new tenants. I jumped the barriers at Euston after getting on the tube somewhere where there were no entry gates (ah, those were the days...) and used some of my riches to buy fish and chips, sneaking them into the empty office under cover of the dark. The water and electricity were still on, but there were no beds, so I laid my sleeping bag out on the floor and dossed down with my supper and a can of Special Brew. I didn't sleep well, because the area was partly residential and had a strong Neighbourhood Watch presence, so I imagined every sound was the Old Bill coming to ask me some very awkward questions. Or else ghosts.

But they never did, and neither did I need to call on Bill Murray and his chums, so I made it through the night before realising the futility of my actions, packing up my old kit bag and heading on to pastures new, which - by coincidence - happened to be Highgate.

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