Monday, 21 February 2011
Sometimes this city is so enervating. The relentless push to get somewhere; the lack of understanding that there could potentially be others occupying the space into which you are about to charge; the queues and the unsmiling unhappy faces. My work now regularly takes me down Buckingham Palace Road, from Victoria train station to the coach station, where the office in which my management team are located (I being mercifully - if temporarily - ensconced in far more salubrious surroundings at St. James's Park) and back again, managing to mostly deflect the offers of logging on at the desk opposite my line manager so that she can indulge her whimsy by asking me questions which are to say the least difficult to answer, and where I am forced to listen till gone 5 o'clock to the arrogant pontificating of my elders (OK then - youngers) and betters and where I watch open-mouthed as yet another disparaging remark undermines everything we are told at 'team briefings' and 'workshops'. When I was younger, I relished the chance to work on a split site because it offered lots of opportunities to skive, because nobody really knows what you're up to. A quick fag in the park, a cup of coffee to make the day pass more easily... Now I am judged on my results, and not by the hours I put in (though I feel I must point out that presenteeism is pretty rife here, as if merely sitting at your desk is somehow an indicator of good performance. Natural I suppose, in a largely operational company) so I am resentful of the continual packing of bags, gathering up of notes, interminable waits for network profiles to load, lost browsing history and all of that jiving (second reference to The Chelsea Hotel indicates an earworm) around.
As I was saying... My mini commute takes me up and down Buck House Road, and this has to be one of the worst places in London (though I do realise that the competition is pretty stiff in this regard) to be when you are actually trying to get somewhere. It starts at the top, near Grosvenor Gardens, where there is a bus stop and the pavement is very narrow. Many's the time I have been unable to move in any direction for several seconds, hemmed in as I have been by Japanese tourists, suitcase dragging rucksack twisting coach station bound youth and the usual mix of London folk from all points east and west, north and south going about their business, and the roaring of buses and taxis and men in vans blocking off the step-into-the-gutter dodge.
This hectic jumble continues as you slog up the street, those damnable suitcases two abreast blocking your path, and traffic converging from all angles as you try to cross the street. Up as far as 123 Buckingham Palace Road, the Oxford Tube buses lining the road and confused people peering up at the coaches' electronic display boards - not realising that they are not even at the coach station yet. Reaching at last the heady stench of fried food pushing its way through some vent in the wall at VCS. It always seems to be raining or there is a biting wind stabbing into your jacket, and you are always forgetting to bring at least one vital piece of Excel with you, rendering yet another question unanswerable. Into the reception and the lift is out of service; a sign is stuck on with duct tape, saying 'MENS TOILET' and the swing doors rub slightly together as you enter the murmur of a working office.