Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Tell Your Story Walking

It’s not a stunning surprise to say that public transport in the capital sucks big time. No matter how often Transport For London blows its own trumpet, the Underground simply doesn’t compare to the IRT/IND/BMT, the El, Metrorail, and especially BART.

Yeah, there’s probably more miles of track and blah, blah, blah, here in London. It might have been a good idea not to wait until everything was on its last legs before trying to fix it up with a lick of paint and a fresh lightbulb.

While working at the animation studio I lived in East Finchley. With the studio on Goodge Street I could, theoretically, go door to door in just over half an hour. In practice it was very rarely the case.

Even if some deadlines hadn’t required early starts, after a couple of journeys being shunted down a tunnel, scrunched into a carriage with someone’s armpit shoved in my face, it was better to get in before the morning crush hour. It gave me time to have a coffee and sort out what needed to be done that day.

Adding a comment a couple of posts back, JD reminded me of what turned out to be my favourite journeys into work. They happened a summer of pretty regular tube strikes.

The animators could work from home just as long as they had a desk on site. Overseeing a digital department with about a half-dozen workstations, multiple scanners and a separate edit suite, working from home never entered into the equation.

Buses would be okay, if I lived near the start of a bus route. But where they passed my way, even a little further along at Muswell Hill, they would already arrive crowded and then probably get fouled up in traffic the closer they got to the centre.

Instead I walked. The only part of the route uphill was Bishops Avenue, which always turned out to longer than it appeared. Then, once I crossed the Heath to Hampstead, it was all downhill. Down Haverstock Hill, veering toward Primrose Hill so I could avoid the obscenity that is Camden High Street, then along Tottenham Court Road.

Most times, wandering through the lanes off Heath Street and checking out the bookshop windows, I had to remind myself I was walking to work. Along the way I’d pass people pacing, frustrated, at the bus stops, and wonder why they were waiting there.

At a gentle pace, I’d leave the house just after seven o’clock in the morning and get to the studio around nine. The amazing thing was, I’d never felt more relaxed arriving at work.


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