Wednesday 22 August 2007

Rainy days and tube journeys

I had a very peculiar experience on the London Underground last week. I was travelling home after a long day travelling and quietly reading my book. The tube wasn't too busy as it was around 7pm. Now... if you have never travelled on the London Underground you probably don't know the rules. Oh yes, there are rules! The most important rule (probably the only rule really) is that you NEVER look at your fellow passengers, and you most certainly never talk to them... unless of course you are travelling with them... but if they are strangers, certainly no communication! That is the way it has always been. Pretty much this is what happens. Occasionally a few angry words will be exchanged on a very crowded tube, or somebody might request a discarded newspaper.

This makes what happened on Thursday night even more strange. So, there I was... quietly reading my book (chick lit I'm afraid) when the guy sitting next to me suddenly spoke to me.
"Excuse me," he said "could you tell me what this word means?" and he pointed to a word on the page of the book he was reading ameliorate it said.
"Improve," I said "make better" and I assumed that would be the end of the conversation, but no!
"Can you tell me the root of the word?" he asked. I apologised that I could not... and shortly after he got up and left the train at the next station. Very strange.
The only other spontaneous conversation that I have ever had on the Underground was late at night when a rather drunk man was moving around the carriage attempting to engage everyone reading books in conversation about the books they were reading!

My bus went on walkabout this morning. I'm not quite sure why. I'd got on the 422 as most of the roadworks which were causing chaos around the old hospital seem to be finished now. Also, the bus information system at the bus stop wasn't working... it was raining... who knows how long away the 486 might have been! So, we got to East Greenwich and the bus driver suddenly left his seat and went around the bus telling everyone that he was going 'the back way' and wouldn't be going via Tunnel Avenue, so get off here if that is where you wanted to go. And lo, the bus turned around the block behind East Greenwich Library and zoomed off past Sainsbury's and through the Peninsula. No idea why as I had my iPod on, so didn't here any radio chatter from bus driver control! It might have been bad traffic, when we crossed the Tunnel Approach at the Standard there was a queue that was dissapearing back to (and maybe beyond) Sun-in-Sands which is quite bad, even for that time of day!

I noticed as we were going past Sainsbury's that they are changing their opening times. I assume that there is some kind of refurbishment going on as the sign said something about "making your store better". No more 24 hour opening, I think it is 7am to 10pm or similar. Good thing, I say. I think that 24 hour supermarket opening is the most pointless thing ever. Number 1, they have licencing laws (none I have visited have taken advantage of the much touted 24 hour licencing). Number 2, there is never anything you want to buy on the shelves 'out of hours'. Number 3, there are hardly any tills open; indeed once at 4am in Asda (I was driving to work) I had to wait for someone to come and operate a single check-out!

A cheerful moment (in this endless rain that has constituted pretty much the whole of the last two months) came the other morning when I was opening my post. A very dull printed envelope, which had type that is similar to a new cheque book cover arrived for me. I opened it without much excitement only to find that one of my Premium Bonds had finally come up! Only the second time ever I've won a prize. Ever, I've had them since I was born! What are Premium Bonds? They are a very quaint way of 'saving' money. You buy bonds (currently between £100 and £30,000 I think) and these bonds are entered into a prize draw every month. That is that, in lieu of receiving interest. I think I have about £50 worth or something... and over the last 30-odd years they have won me £150. Pretty rubbish return really! You need to own a lot more to win prizes... my parents and grandmother quite often win.

I had a superb evening out last night. I met up with a bunch of friends from school, pretty much thanks to the wonder of FaceBook that we all go in touch after so many years (well for some of us)! We went to a pub 'near London Bridge'. Turned out in the even that it was nearer to Tower Bridge than to London Bridge, but there you go! Cracking evening out... makes me determinded to try and keep in better touch with all my friends. Should be easy really, what with the wonders of modern technology and all!