Friday, November 04, 2005

Murder Ball

Some of you, after reading the jibberish that I spew on line, have asked me privately if I'm all right; the answer: of course I am.

Anyone who has known me for more than 48 hours knows perfectly well that I am the sanest person on the planet; it's just that everyone else Not angry mad; rather, the sort of maddness reserved for milliners. Also, as of last post, I just found out that you all can write your own comments, so now I've been entertaining myself trying to figure out whose who; the moral of the story, include a name; that way, I know.

Finally, most of you who also send private emails comment about "infamous commute." 'What's it really like?' 'It can't be that hectic.' etc. So today's version of London Living is dedicated to the train warriors of London.

Let's start with the first question, 'what's it really like,' so that we don't really have to answer the second. MMM let's would I describe the daily battle to get into and out of the city??? Well, picture a category 5 field sprint, in a 15 corner criterium with several thousand dollars at stake (hell a pro-crit with that kinda money) and combine that with some Romance-style gladiator competition; the result is something that resembles my commute. Really. The key to surviving each day is to look about six people in front of you and anticipate the motions of the crowd, and always be moving forward through it. Many days I purely rely on my bike racing instinct; it is almost remarkable to consider how many times I 'take the inside,' 'chop corners' or 'stack people into the wall.' Frankly my day is not complete unless I find my head burried in the rib cage of my competitor pushing him (or her) into the guard rail. I throw elbows, bump shoulders and do my best to stay up right. It's awesome.

Couple all of the bike racing analogies with my 20 kilos worth of back pack, and now enter the realm of blood sport. There are a sub-breed mutant London office-commando who seem to think that they own the rights to walk and that the rest of us peons should bow out. Usually these are Lloyds type investor bankers who fancy themselves as the 'Big Swinging Dicks' (BSDs) of the financial world; unfortunately, in the public sphere, they're just another obstacle between me and my train, like a spilled coffee or chewing gum. Needless to say, collisions are ugly, and given that my 70 kilos (90 with luggage) is mainly muscle and bone (and books) while their's tends to by sqishy and British...well, you get the idea. Some days it pays to be an American (ironically enough, this reminds me of a House of Pain-ironic since they claimed 'Irish roots'-lyric about putting on some cowboy boots--( )

Once you get beyond the violence, embrace the humor. Many of the tube stations have musicians trying to make it big...and move above ground. This in itself doesn't bother me. It's great to perform; practice makes perfect, and frankly, there are some talented folks down there--I heard a violinist perform the ciaccona from Bach's violin partita no 2 (a piece he dedicated to his late wife) almost to perfection until her fingers were cut to ribbons by those 128th notes.. Today, however, I was greeted with the sounds of some experimental vocale arrangements by woman whose voice was a melodic mix of Ani DeFranco, Alanis Morrisette and Tori Amos, combined with a high pitched warble and a synthesizer. Grand Opera it was not. In fact, it brought tears to my eyes and CSF out my ears. I was lucky though, some poor rube out-of-towner found himself in the wrong part of the echoing tunnel where the sound waves magnified against the tile. Last I heard Transport Police were scraping bits of scalp off the 1123 to West in a big city I guess; lead, follow or get out of the way.

So there you have it. Commuting, the daily struggle. At least I don't have to take a car. One of my collegues who lives about 15 miles from Egham was stuck in traffic for almost three hours on his way into the office. All I had to do was push two people down the stairs, stomp an old lady and go 15 rounds wielding a trident i against a stock broker in the Pit-of-Death, and I had time for a latte.

well, it's Friday night. Decided not to go out and instead save up for Guy Fawkes Day tomorrow. Given this town's love for burning effigies and the memories of 7/7 fresh on everyone's mind, I wonder who's going up at Trafalger...should be a riot, and I want a front row seat.

take it easy and thanks for reading,


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