On a nice sunny day, I hop on an early bus into town en route for a train to London for my first workshop session as an emerging artist at Debut Contemporary In Notting Hill. It’s so sunny I am tempted by the idea of grabbing a coffee en plein soleil in the city centre. This great plan is foiled by the only nice bus driver in Leeds who re-opens his doors at every possible opportunity to ensure that every person wishing to travel may do so without the pleasure of a run alongside the closing doors of a bus on a mission to beat the local record for the bus route. I consequently have to rush to make my train.
Since I now have a regular weekly commute in prospect, I need to economise by buying the cheapest most inconvenient ticket I can find. My schedule today on arrival in London allows me 30 minutes to get to Notting Hill, and 48 minutes to get back for my return train. Fired with naive optimism and faith in The System, I think this is manageable. Trains, unlike bus drivers, have real schedules to stick to.
Which is fine until the hand of fate sends a vehicle crashing into a railway bridge and we have to sit for an interminable time staring at sunny fields and cows, watching the minutes tick by much more quickly than they normally do. I resign myself to being very late. I am almost resigned to project abandonment, but that’s unthinkable.
We arrive eventually in London and now I have to run the gauntlet of big brave new stations.
Last week I admired the giant splendour of the new Kings Cross concourse. This week I cursed it, together with the extensive new network of underground passages which you have to cross to catch the Tube. It takes far too much time, and to my horror it’s the same scenario at Paddington. I feel I have run miles just to enter and exit the Underground.
I have a fascinating and rewarding time at 3/4 of the workshop, and then get ready to race back to Kings Cross. What madness is this, I ask myself? I haven’t even had time for a coffee anywhere.
And thanks to the apparently normal operating service on the underground today, that’s not about to change. “Normal” service means interminable waits for a train. And no through service. I count myself lucky that this wasn’t a disrupted service day. It’s all relative.
I’m hopping with impatience at an enforced train change at Edgware Road, watching the minutes tick by ever faster.
Finally, finally, Kings Cross. Then the manic mile long run from the underground to the overground station, flying past coffee shops taunting me from every direction.
I fling myself onto the Grand Central train with 20 seconds to spare and no coffee. Or water. As we pull out, an announcement tells us we are in fact just arriving at King’s Cross and to be sure to take our luggage. Great, I think. I can repeat the last four hours if I want.
My cheap inconvenient ticket is taking me home via a change at Doncaster. I do hope the idiot who hit the bridge is far far away.
I think I need to practice this commuting lark a bit more.