Friday, 29 June 2007

No smoking please...

So, the new smoking ban or "England goes smoke free" approaches. The papers have been full of articles on "how to quit" and new signs and butt bins (and even 'smoking shelters') are in evidence everywhere. I don't suppose that it will make much difference to my life... I stopped smoking about 3 and half years ago... and never looked back. Like a lot of reformed smokers I am now extremely intolerant of others smoking. However, I don't frequent a lot of places where people do smoke. The pub we go to if we go out is a Weatherspoon's which has always had a no smoking section. I can imagine, however, that (for example) the concourse at football matches will be much improved without the nicotine smog hanging over it!

London is in semi-chaos again today after the discovery of a car bomb outside a nightclub in the early hours of the morning. The situation was dealt with by the police and the bomb didn't explode... however, Haymarket (which basically links Westminster with Central London) is closed, buses are on diversion and Piccadilly Circus tube is shut. All that said... there is no to Mayfair or the Jubilee Line. If my boss hadn't happened to mention it this morning in the kitchen, I probably wouldn't have known.

I was off for a site visit again yesterday (sunny Kent this time). As always I listened to BBC London's morning phone in. Yesterday the discussion was about parking attendant (after a parking attendant had been attacked the day before after issuing a ticket and ended up critically ill in hospital). The airwaves were fairly jammed with tales of woe (and some of them were terribly sad involving sick children and dying parents)... but for every tale of woe and unjust ticket there are equal amounts of people who park where they want and run the risk - but will still complain when they get a ticket. At the end of the day, parking attendants are just people doing there job like anyone else. And like anyone else, they have good days... they have bad days.. and they make mistakes. I once got a parking ticket, I had stopped where I ought not - so I held up my hands and said "It's a fair cop, guv".

Looking out the office window the other afternoon (trying to see what was causing the cacophony of car horns) I saw a very amusing van, with a sign printed on the roof "Don't look down on me. I'm just a delivery van." Kind of defeats the point of being memorable as I couldn't see the side of the van to see which company it belonged to!

There is no post today as the Royal Mail are gone on strike - I believe it is over the 2.5% pay offer. I get confused when there are them and the Underground always threatening to go on strike. I have trouble remembering why and for what they are striking. In addition to this the Royal Mail also wants to stop delivering on a Saturday. Apparently most of Europe doesn't have Saturday deliveries. I find this hard to believe, and may now have to research the rest of the world to find out how common/unusual a Saturday delivery really is.

The office was highly amused by the news that the Spice Girls are getting back together. I saw a picture in the paper this morning... and I have to say apart from Victoria they were all looking every inch of their 30 years and being mothers... absolutely crying out for a 'before' and 'after' shot.

My family did their own version of that once. It was very alarming. It was the occasion of my grandparent's 50th wedding anniversary. A photograph had been taken 10 years previously at the time of their 40th wedding anniversary, a family grouping of my grandparents, my mother, my uncle, my brother, my two cousins and me. This photograph was re-created - identical positioning, even down to my youngest cousin (now about 14) having to hold the small orange wheelbarrow that he had played with as a four year old!

Hopefully the weather will cheer up a bit now, just in time for the weekend!

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Now I've heard it all!

The weather hasn't been too bad here today... bit of rain on and off, nothing to major. It's hard to remember that there are flood warnings and all sorts over the rest of the country.

At some point this afternoon we noticed in the office that we weren't getting any email. People were expecting stuff, but nothing was arriving. We experimented using webmail addresses to send ourselves email... and nothing did arrive! But yet, when we sent ourselves email out - there it is in our webmail in-boxes.

So. I rang our IT guy. He confirmed that, yes indeed, there was no incoming email. The given reason. Adverse weather conditions. Truly! It had knocked out the incoming servers (some how)... and the back up servers... so. Here we sit. Very quiet. No incoming email!

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Office gossip and traumas

Yesterday our front door broke. It wouldn't be so bad but it is practically brand new!!! We didn't actually realise that it was broken for a while - but a big meeting was happening in the Board Room and attendees kept appearing in reception without the intercom having rung. Eventually we decided that it might be a good idea to go downstairs and find out what was going on. This is what... the bolt that is operated by the push button ("press here to exit") had stopped springing back up and was stuck in the down position... this meant that the door, instead of shutting was bouncing off the bolt and the frame was blocked so the door couldn't shut. When I pressed the button the bolt did go back up... and the door shut, but the bolt then didn't fall back down again! Had to phone up the management to tell them (this was before the trip downstairs) they were laissez-faire about the whole thing and said someone might "get out today". After the revelations of the bolt, our conclusion being drawn that the building was effectively no longer secure - another call was placed to the agent... stating the urgency of the problem. Due credit... three (really, three?!) engineers did arrive and fix the door.

So - this morning the door is fixed. However now the LIFT is broken. It was working when I arrived at 20 past 6 but by the time that the SA girl arrived at a quarter before seven it was no longer functioning. How do we know this? Our lift has very peculiar symptons when it is broken. It goes to the fifth floor (top floor) and stays there. No amount of button pressing either within the car or from the landings will get it to move. During my investigations of the lift I met the office manager from the floor below. She hit upon the bright idea of using the emergency phone to summon the lift people. The emergency phone doesn't work. I joked that maybe it was cut off because the landlord's agent hadn't paid the bill. Not such a joke given recent issues with the electricity bill for the basement! So - not sure what the status of the lift is... and if I even want to use it right now. If I got stuck in there it could be a long time before I got out!!!

The office is a wealth of partner's today. The senior partner is here... the partner who was abroad is back, and the partner who is always here, is, well, here! In fact... everyone is here today. Had a funny five moments with the youngest trainee earlier. He had a drawing whose stated scale was 1:1000 (not a scale on most rulers in the office)... and actually turned out to be 1:2000. So... he measured at 1:100, multiplied by ten and then by 2. It was pointed out that it might have been quicker to merely work at 1:200 and multiply by 10. But the answer is right, he said. Ah, but the Partner said, if you'd been measuring lengths and areas you might have muddled your coefficients... and there lies the way to madness and wrong answers.

Fellow Travellers

As I was walking home from the bus stop last night I was stopped by some fellow travellers on the road of life. I remark on them only because the trio was a man, a woman and a table. Looking for Charlton station. They were exceedingly polite, and unusually for people who are lost in Charlton, not that far from their destination! The table was strange though. Large and white, two circles joined together. I wonder where it was going on a train?

Woke up obscenely early this morning and decided to try and get a march on the day by going straight to work... which means that I'd better get on with it and not sit here thinking!

Monday, 25 June 2007

Ironing Mountain

Last night I finally tackled the ironing mountian. The problem is that there is very little incentive to actually do my ironing... I own three very nice 'non-iron' shirts which I wear a lot, and several pairs of trousers that don't need ironing (or so little that the creases have dropped out by the time I get to the office). So, once again it got to the stage where EVERYTHING I own needed to be ironed. It took the whole of Supernatural and part of an episode of Hustle before it was all done! I nearly melted in the process as I always like to use steam when I iron! I feel very virtuous having done it... and made the usual (futile) promises to myself to not let it mount up again.

Saturday night movies this weekend... managed to get through two! First up was 'Edison'... I think maybe we saw a trailer for it... and also because Morgan Freeman is in it. It was OK (I suppose)... it had a story, the acting was good enough... it just didn't have a 'spark'. Still... unlike most recent 'first films' of a Saturday night we did watch the whole thing! Next up was 'Goal 2'. Quite fun in a bit of a silly way. I said to Rich that I wouldn't mind going to football every other week if Charlton played like Real Madrid. Rich told me that if I wanted to watch that kind of football I'd do better tuning into Sky Sports on a Sunday night!

It pretty much rained the whole weekend in the end. I had a brief 10 minutes in the garden on Sunday afternoon to clean out the Frog Pond which had gone the same toxic shade of green that the main pond had been a while ago. This involved bailing out all the water into the rockery (which of course ran down the rockery and onto the patio making a lovely mess) and then scooping out the leaves that were in the bottom (what a stink). I also disturbed two frogs who must have been sleeping on the bottom, and didn't look at all pleased to see daylight. They soon vanished off again once I refilled the pond though!

We also spent obscene amounts of time playing the Playstation... we only left the house on Saturday once to go to the post office and to pick up lunch. Ah well. After the madness of last week I think that we deserved some quality R&R!

Saturday, 23 June 2007

Reflections on time and other things...

So. Off I went to Worcester again on Thursday for my monthly trip. Decided to go by train this time as driving there and back is just exhausting, and I get to sleep on the train!

Paddington was bizarre. There were ladies in posh frocks and way out hats (who I later found were going to Ladies Day at Ascot) and then there were masses of people with huge rucksacks wearing wellingtons... who were, of course, off to Glastonbury. Very strange mix!

It all made me quite nostalgic. I only went to Glastonbury twice... once in 1995 and once in 1997. The first time I went was awesome. I'd just finished my first year at University... the weather was glorious... I went with a bunch of people and spent quite a lot of the time in an altered state of mind! The last time I went I'd just finished my second year at a different University (long story for another day). The weather was awful... it rained, a lot. There was mud (oh, was there mud) and I'd got over being in an altered state of mind... and I only went with one person. I hated it. So, in a weird way it was good. I had the lovely 1995 (which still is a legend) but I never feel that I'm missing out by not going as the second time put me off forever! What I found hardest to believe was that it is 10 years ago (and the rest) that those things took place.

Talking about time. I was with my folks the other weekend. Me and Mum were sitting in the garden enjoying the sun when Mum said "I worked out the other day that I'm the same age now as Granny was when I first met Dad, and I thought she was so old!". My response to this was "Well I'm the same age now as you were when you had me, and I thought you were old (just kidding)!". It is alarming that I'm my mother's age when she had me... I can't imagine feeling old enough to be a mother. Mind, saying that... it still weirds me out that I know people who are married... who have kids... who own houses... who hold down responsible (well some of us) jobs... when did we stop being 18?!?!

Thursday, 21 June 2007

O2

Last night the O2 opened it doors to the public. There was a free event for the residents of the London Borough of Greenwich (which is where the O2 is).

Once upon a time.... a VERY long time ago some politicians decided to build a dome. The project was conceived to celebrate the start of the third millennium way back in 1994. The whole thing has always been subject to large amounts of mockery from press and public alike. Nowhere near the expected amount of visitors ever came... and the whole thing (unsurprisingly) cost a lot more than originally anticipated. On the plus side, the Dome was at the centre of the re-generation of the Greenwich Peninsula and the extension of the Jubilee line - both good things, finally the London Underground came to South East London! When the original exhibition closed in 2001 everyone wondered what would happen to the Dome. The answer turned out to be, for a very long time, not a lot. It sat empty, costing money to maintain and occasionally being used for one off events (a 'Winter Wonderland' and 'Crisis at Christmas' spring to mind).

The whole thing was eventually sold off to Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) who in turn sold the rights of the name to O2 plc. The Millennium Dome became the O2 - officially at least... most of us who live round here still simply refer to it as 'the Dome'.

So. Back to last night. We drove down and left our car in one of the newly refurbished car parks... paying just a couple of quid (apparently it will normally cost £20). And wandered over to the Dome. The new square was buzzing with people... and as we made our way inside we were given food vouchers for the concessions (which we never got round to using). Upstairs and into the arena. A band played, the chief executive of AEG Europe (I think) spoke, some local school children sang, another band played, a council guy spoke, we left. The entertainment was so-so... but that wasn't really the point. We went to see what was there... the arena is good. Big! Excellent acoustics, lighting, etc. The concourse is quite utilitarian... although there seems to be a lot of choice with concessions. The 'Blue Room' (exclusive to O2 customers apparently) was beyond unimpressive... although certainly very blue! I like the entertainment district best. An 'avenue' with plasterboard fa├žades and fake trees... longer than Bond Street they said... not all open last night. Walked as far as the Cinema entrance, and saw Pizza Express, Slug and Lettuce and Nandos to name a few. That is the other thing inside an 11 (?) screen multiplex being run by Vue. Odeon over on Bugsbys Way must be gutted!

As evenings out go it wasn't really up there... but it was good to see what they've been up to, and what is inside. Given the programme of events announced so far, am not likely to be paying to go there anytime soon!

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Time Flies

Wednesday already. Who'd have thought it! The week is nearly over (for me) as I'm off to Worcester all day tomorrow, and then only Friday and we're done!

Our family is off to the Dome (sorry, the O2) tonight. There is a free event for Greenwich residents, and I want to see what's been going on... so that will be fun!

Last night I walked along Piccadilly to get to Green Park as I needed to post some letters and there is a post-box by Cafe Nero. In the two or so blocks to Green Park I came across no less than six Chuggers. For those not familiar with the terms Chuggers are Charity Muggers. Those irritatingly chirpy souls which clipboards who just want a moment of your time. Six of them... three of whom tried to stop me. I was quite annoyed by the time I arrived at the tube station. I give money to charities already - and those chirpy souls aren't going to make me give any more.

I was so distracted (and my feet were so on autopilot) that I fell off the escalator. The down and up escalators to the Jubilee line from the central concourse had swapped sides. I tried to get on the down... slid off backwards, and undeterred tried again! Then I realised why it wasn't working. As Homer Simpson would say "D'oh"!

Sunday, 17 June 2007

Father's Day

So - to all the Dads out there... Happy Father's Day. I shall be driving down to see my pops later this morning. I had a terrible time trying to find a gift... you know how hard men are to buy for! In the end I decided to pop into Fortnum and Mason... which is just along Piccadilly from my office. I'd never been inside before - although I've often admired their window displays! It's quite a store. Very genteel... and such a gorgeous smell! If only it wasn't so expensive, I'd shop there more often!

Friday night saw a further quandary for me. It was time to open the new 'improved' box of Avonex (my MS DMD - that's disease modifying drug). I sat down to prepare the syringe as always, only to find that the replacement on the syringe for the small rubber cap was a large plastic scary looking thing... with no indication of what to do next! Luckily the good people of Biogen Idec run a 24 hour support line... so I had to have the embarrassing conversation starting with "I can't work out how to get the top off the syringe". In my defence... you wouldn't have guessed. You had to snap it off at a 90 degree angle... which you wouldn't guess, you'd never dream of taking such extreme action with a glass syringe! It was, as promised, easier to attach the needle - it did stay more firmly in place. Now I know what to do I'm sure it will make my life easier!

Saturday night is movie night. We started with "Hard Times"... I'm afraid I got bored after about half an hour of the Lovely Christian Bale and Freddy Rodriguez calling each other "dude" and "dog" and "homie" and generally behaving like reprobates. It may or may not have developed a plot after this point! I really have to stop choosing movies because I like the lead actor (same thing last weekend with the Charming Hugh Jackman and "The Fountain"). Not learning from my mistake, next up was "Deja Vu" with Denzel Washington (I like Denzel Washington). Not a bad movie (I suppose)... but I think it could have been so much more. The science part of the fiction was a bit questionable in it's logic... but then anything dealing with time and/or time travel always is. I actually gave up trying to work out the logic of it all - but I'm pretty certain that something somewhere didn't make sense! Probably worth watching though... as I enjoyed it well enough. Final movie up was "The Magnificent Seven" (quote Rich, I can't believe you've never seen "The Magnificent Seven"). Somehow it had permeated my consciousness as I instantly recognized the theme music! Again - I liked it well enough, although I'm not sure I'd ever watch it again. Spent a great deal of time trying to tie down the famous actors who I'd either never seen before or not seen looking so young. It was weird to see Robert Vaughan who I've been watching in "Hustle" looking so young, and yet, hardly changed (lucky man)! So - now I can name all the actors in "The Magnificent Seven" - you'll just have to take my word that I've not popped off to IMDB to look them up! Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Brad Dexter, James Coburn, Robert Vaughn, Charles Bronson and Horst Buckholst. Apparently it is as essential as being able to name the seven dwarfs (Happy, Sneezy, Grumpy, Dopey, Doc, Bashful and Sleepy) - although I read somewhere that those names were totally random and chosen from a short-list of about 50!!!

On my way home on Thursday night I stopped off to have a quick nose around Pensinsula Square. On my way into work (after going to site) I'd noticed some suits and cameras through the doors at the back of the tube station - the hoarding finally having been taken down. I vaguely wondered what was going on and though no more about it. However, on my way home in the Lite I read about the new square, bigger than Leicester Square (so they say), and thought I'd have a quick look. Very nice. It has a green wall down one side with water features (little waterfalls) built in... a great big sculpture made from stainless steel or similar... when I say sculpture, it is a long twisty post! Set into the paving are little quotes, all to do with time and stuff. I thought at first the line with the quotes was the meridian line (they are big on that in Greenwich) but then I noticed that there were loads, and decided that it was just art!

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Lights Out London!

Here's another energy saving initiative - turn off all your non-essential lights and appliances for one hour (between 9 and 10pm) on the 21st June (the longest day). The aim is to save 750MWh of electricity in just one hour. Check out the website here.

Jubilee Line fails again

It's getting to be a habit! The Jubilee Line suspended itself yesterday afternoon from Canary Wharf to Stratford following a signal failure at North Greenwich. Again. It wouldn't be so irritating but that section of the line was shut over the weekend for planned engineering work. Obviously didn't do much good! This meant that I spent an extra however long in the office as there was no point trying to travel through the chaos. By the time I did leave there were only about 8-10 minutes between trains... which is about acceptable. You know that it was bad though, when they feel the need to put up posters the following morning apologising for the service!!!

Saturday, 9 June 2007

More coffee please!

It took three minutes for my alarm clock to wake me up this morning!!! This would be bad enough... but Lumie has a light on it which is supposed to simulate sunrise and bring you gently to wakefullness. I can only assume that the stress of yesterday knocked me out good last night. Halfway down my first cup of coffee now and I almost feel human.

I'm going shopping later. I'm meeting up with my cousin (who I should see more often as she only lives a few miles away in Dulwich). We're going to Bluewater. Hope this isn't going to be too traumatic after the recent 'measuring shopping centres in Eastern Europe' disasters at work!

No post yet this morning... not sure that I'm due anything exciting anymore anyway since my lovely Beanie came from Abbey Bears in Cornwall. Very attractive little chaps they are too! :-)

Friday, 8 June 2007

Why I don't like Fridays

I know I'm weird. Most people love Fridays as they are the end of the week. I'm okay with the principle of them... it's just the execution that is always letting me down!

Reasons I don't like Friday - number 1
We are supposed to finish work at half past four on Friday. It NEVER happens. In fact, what usually happens is that Friday is the worst day of the week. Everything always goes wrong. Today I have spent in long (and often fruitless) telephone conversations trying to find out if anybody knows what is happening on my project (answer, no). Also, making a budget/cashflow according to a pro-forma which really isn't relevant to my project... and various other irritating little arisings... each of which must be somebody's fault, and I'm permanently worried that the somebody must be me. It almost makes me wish I hadn't given up smoking... not because I have any desire to smoke, but I remember the huge 'whoosh' of stress relief engendered by the act of smoking a cigarette!

Reasons I don't like Friday - number 2
Friday is injection day. I can't remember how much I've gone into this before... in 2002 I was diagnosed with relapsing/remitting MS (story for another day). After some years of mostly remitting and a healthy dose of denial I had a few relapses last year. My health professionals suggested that it was probably time for disease modifying drugs. I was historically terribly against this as I suffer from Belonephobia - that is a fear of needles. At the moment the drugs available in this country are all proteins, which means that they cannot be taken orally as the stomach acid would break them up. They must therefore be injected intra-muscularly or subcutaneously. Mine is intra-muscular as it lasts longer and you have to inject less often. Although I have gotten over feeling as if I'll faint and can manage perfectly well I still don't much like doing it... and it does cast a little shadow over Friday. Also, the side effects mean that quite often I either sleep badly on Friday or still feel a bit rubbish on Saturday morning.

Those are the only reasons I don't like Friday - but I think that they are enough.

Thursday, 7 June 2007

Ladies who lunch

Today I met my friend and her daughter for lunch. Although her daughter was born at the end of last August our busy lives and living on opposite sides of the Thames means that this is the first time we've met since. We decided to go for lunch at a pavement cafe in Landsdowne Mews (where there are literally half a dozen to choose from). My new little friend was absolutely cute and charmed me and the waitress and the diners at the next table. My friend and I decided that a girl must get to know the important things in life... lunch with friends being one of them!

I discovered this morning that I've been wasting my money. Ever since they were introduced I've been buying a zone 1-3 oyster card. North Greenwich is on the border of zones 2 and 3 and can be in either zone depending on which way you are travelling. I alwasy figured I needed a three zone travel card to get me from my house (which is between Charlton and Woolwich mainline stations, both in zone 3) to North Greenwich. Apparently not. Apparently zones don't exist for busses and the whole of London is one big zone. Nice little saving every month - shame that I just bought a new travelcard!

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Busy times

I have never been fond on Wednesday. Nearly but not quite heading towards being the end of the week!

I had a meeting in Holborn this morning, first thing. So, I thought, best go straight there and not to the office. Good plan, lousy execution. I made my usual mistake of mis-reading the tube map and thinking that Tottenham Court Road Station was in fact Holborn. Oops.

I decided to get a train to Charring Cross (following my mistaken belief that I could then go straight up the Northern Line to Holborn). I got a bus to the village planning on walking down Charlton Church Lane... but a 486 turned up, so I decided to get the bus instead! Of course, Charlton Church Lane after about 7am is always a bad idea. The bus sat and waited as a variety of cars and vans navigated the parked cars which line both sides of the road. Finally Parcelforce and another van decided that they might let the bus down. Shame that the cars behind those vans didn't. They all started trying to pass the vans... despite the second van driver sticking his arm out the window and waving the cars back! Made it to the bottom eventually and only just caught the 8 o'clock train to Charring X that I'd been aiming for! Got the tube, and realised at Leicester Square that I needed to change to the Piccadilly Line (which does go to Holborn). Hadn't banked on Holborn being so busy... took ages to get out of the station and only just made the meeting on time. I wasn't the only one though. One chap had walked from Waterloo because the queues for the buses were so immense, and the other was late as he'd been stopped by a police man for doing 38mph in a 30 zone. Know how he feels on that one. I got a speeding fine for doing 36mph in a 30. Bah. £60 fine and 3 points. Very annoying as the 3 points from a parking infraction had just cleared down!

There are still frogs all over our garden. Having graduated from being tadpoles they don't seem to be growing very fast! There are wriggling masses of tiny frogs everywhere!

The weather is a bit cooler today... for which I'm very glad. Our office traps the heat like you can't imagine... and by afternoon is unbearable on a hot day. Today it will probably only manage rather uncomfortable!

The furore over the logo for the 2012 Olympics continues. Goodness only knows who ever wanted London to have the Olympics. Most people that I know don't want them here. It just seems like more money in our taxes and more inconvenience. The logo is hilarious. It is supposed to be a 'graffiti' tag of '2012'. Doesn't look much like it to me... and ever since I've seen the comment in yesterday's Metro "What is Lisa Simpson doing to that man" I haven't been able to take it seriously. There were some quite reasonable alternatives published in the Lite last night... done in 10 minutes by members of the public for free - rather than in several months by professionals for £400,000!!!

Monday, 4 June 2007

World Environment Day

This Wednesday (6th June) is World Enivronment Day

Check out their website and see what you can do!

Saturday, 2 June 2007

Summer is back!

Despite the threat of showers and cool weather May turned to June and Spring turned to Summer.

Yesterday I had to go to Lowestoft. Lowestoft is at the top of East Anglia and a good hundred and something miles from London. It is a good three hour journey too as there is no motorway, only A-roads to get there. Got all the way there, having stifled in my car with no air-conditioning... only to find out that the meeting had been cancelled, but nobody had bothered to let me know! Got some lunch and then drove all the way back again. Still stifling in my car with no air-conditioning. Got stuck in a traffic queue at the Dartford crossing, whereupon I nearly melted!!! Got home at 4pm... what a wasted day!

Rushed out first thing this morning to buy Tomb Raider: Anniversary. Have played a couple of hours worth until I got stuck. Knew I should have bought the walkthrough guide!

The garden is full of frogs again. Most of the babies have finally grown-out of being tadpoles and turned into tiny frogs. Really so small... about a centimeter long. It's like the time that Molly gave the carpet fleas. You thought the carpet was OK until you looked really close up and saw that it was hopping. That is our lawn. You don't realise that there are hundreds of baby frogs until you kneel down and take a close look and then realise that they are every where.

All the fish in the pond seem to be enjoying the summer weather... Jaws is followed around by an absolute shoal of little brown fish, medium sized brown fish and the three goldfish. The only one who doesn't seem to want to soak up the sun is Molly... being a black cat she gets too hot and would rather sleep in a bush!

Friday, 1 June 2007

Cabbies

Cabbies in London definitely have a reputation. Some good - most not so much. We're talking black cab drivers here... 'Hackney Carriages' as they are officially. The licensed Cabbies - the ones who take "The Knowledge". The Knowledge is cool - basically Cabbies are pretty much required to know EVERY street in London... and the best way from anywhere to anywhere. This makes them the choice way from A to B. It's the best way to get around after dark if you're a girl, that's for sure!

So. Last night, it was half past nine by the time I left the office... and past ten by the time I got to North Greenwich. Sod that, I thought. I'll get a Cab home. For the first time ever the Cab rank was empty. One was just leaving with a fare. Bummed. So I stood and waited. Another girl turned up... we made small talk. A cab arrived and I got in. Whereupon the Cabbie apologised for my wait (ah, bless). We trundled off and took the route which goes via the level crossing rather than through the bus lane (which I'm never convinced that they are allowed to do anyway). We got to the level crossing and the barrier was down. So we waited. For about 40p on the fare. Where upon the Cabbie switched off the meter! I always feel a bit embarrassed sitting here clocking up an extra £3, he told me. Eventually the gates went up and off we went. You should put the meter back on, I reminded him. But he didn't . So when we got to our destination (home at last) I actually gave him a tip... after all, he had saved me a few quid!