Today is my birthday. And by a minor miracle I’ve made it to fifty!

Those of you that knew me in the late eighties & nineties would probably agree that’s quite an achievement considering my reckless abandonment back in those days.

How that taxi outside the Festival House missed me, when I rather drunkenly slipped off the curb, I’ll never know. The day I survived rolling over the bonnet of a car, having rather stupidly and dangerously decided it would be a great idea to skateboard down Gas Hill to see how fast I could go, I’ll never forget the look on the face of the poor woman who was driving as I screamed in horror as my Sims Pure Juice board carried on across Riverside Road and was lost forever to the bottom of the Wensum. It had cost a weeks wages back in 1995 and I had only had it barely a week. I was absolutely fine, apart from the 25 year heartache at the loss of that fabulous board.

Then there was the time I wound up in casualty with cracked vertebrae after losing a piggy back fight outside the Pottergate Tavern. How I survived (along with a few of others) the Potts is another miracle and a story in itself.

There are quite a few other notable incidents to mention as well, Charlie with the Flymo in the kitchen at the notorious house in Honey Close waving it around, blade facing forward chucking bits of dried grass around the room, while I stood with spinning blade inches away from my face while telling him to put it down. Setting fire to my hair in a cupboard at one of the many Honey Close parties. Knocking myself out after falling into sixty or seventy empty Newcastle Brown bottles we were storing on the kitchen table just to keep a record of how much Newcastle Brown we could drink in a month. In hindsight a tally with pen and paper would’ve been a more sensible solution. Just to finish that event off, two of my friends tried to shove me head first into the oven while I was unconscious. How about passing out half in and half out of the front door having barely made it home after a full days session in the Potts. Where did these shenanigans take place you ask? Honey Close of course. I lived there with various housemates for nearly two years between ’94 and ’96, me being the only consistent resident, before buying my first house in 1996, which upon reflection, probably saved me from a demise that would no doubt have made the Darwin Awards.

How about the time I fell off the stage at the arts centre when putting my foot on the monitor in front of me in a classic rock pose, missing it completely and heading head first into the audience, who rather than trying to save me, parted ways as if for Moses, presenting me with a nice open space on the floor on which to land heavily on my knees. They may have swelled to the size of footballs, but I still finished the gig!

There are many, many other stories of this nature, and thanks to my insomnia, I’ve managed to commit these few to my blog space. Unfortunately though, it’s now nearly 6:30am, and it’s time to get up and battle with the kids to get them fed and ready for school. Then I’ve got to fight the traffic on Norwich’s wonderful inner ring road to get to work, a journey of 2 miles that takes longer than the 12 mile journey from home to the school. If it’s anywhere near as traumatic as yesterday morning’s escapades, I’m in for a very stressful treat!

Happy Birthday to me!

The Perils of Travelling to London For Work

One of the things I have to do for work is travel to our London office fairly frequently, usually once a month, and usually I have an overnight stay as it gets me in bright and early the following day, usually a good two hours before anyone else which allows me to get a hell of a lot done. Due to hospital and doctor’s appointments preventing my planned overnight stay last week, this is the second consecutive Monday I find myself sat on the 09:00 service on my way to Liverpool Street Station. It is also the second consecutive Monday the 09:00 service has been late (although, if I’m honest, every time I get the 09:00 service to London Liverpool Street it is late), and the second consecutive Monday, the automated announcing system at Norwich Station had everyone but me (I’ll explain this further down)  shuffling from one platform to the next while it tried to decide which platform the train would be departing from.

Usually it’s pretty straight forward getting the train from Norwich, and in the past I would always get the 08.30 which gets into Liverpool Street at 10.20. Due to moving the kids to a school in Norwich, though, I’ve had to change my pattern and get the 09:00 instead. It doesn’t make a massive amount of difference journey wise, as it’s the fast train from Norwich with only one stop at Ipswich, and arrives at 10.30. The tube and walk to the London office in Clerkenwell is only ten minutes, so, as you can see, not much of a hardship.

Getting on the 09:00 is an absolute ball ache though. My usual routine for getting a London bound train is to check the arrivals board online for the last previous train to my intended departure, which gives me the platform to head to when I get there. It’s then just a brisk walk from the office to the station, followed by a five or ten minutes relaxing, stress free sit down to get my laptop ready to do a bit of work on the way.

This, however, does not work for the 09:00. I still check online for the platform but, as the 09:00 service to London Liverpool Street relies on the 08:56 service from London Liverpool Street arriving on time, the incoming passengers disembarking, then the great throng of us standing on the platform to board the train, it’s always an utter pain in the arse. First of all you have to contend with the automated announcer shuffling us from platform to platform, like male emperor penguins huddling together for warmth and respite from a blizzard. I’ve become wise to these shenanigans and have learnt to stay put when the announcement is made. It happens because there is a slower service that departs at 09:03 to London and if the 09:00 is late the automated system gets itself all in a tizzy, and starts sending us back and forth between platforms, well not everyone, as there is always a few others, like myself, who have figured out this glitch in the system, and while the rest of the throng is shuffling from one platform to another and back again, we position ourselves in the prime spots on the platform to ensure we are first on the train and bag our favorites seats.

Me? I like to sit in one of the double window seats travelling backwards as you get a better view out of the window, I find if you sit facing the direction of travel, everything rushes towards you and has gone past you before you’ve had a chance to take anything in.

Stay tuned for the return journey, I always aim for the 14:30 from London Liverpool Street back to Norwich so I get back in a reasonable time and get home to spend time with the family before the kids go to bed. It doesn’t always work out that way, mainly due to a certain individual in the London Office, although sometimes, fate just gets in the way as it did a few weeks ago. If I’m not to drained and sleep all the way back to Norwich later I’ll detail that journey on here while I’m heading home.