Friday, 8 July 2005

Into the Lions Den

Have been lax for a couple of weeks, mainly because not a lot has been happening, but felt I had to write something today after the events of yesterday.

What have we been up to? Well, we booked Alice's birthday party, for which invites have now been distributed. Also, we celebrated Jacqueline's birthday with a low-key meal at a Brewers' Fayre restaurant. (Great for Alice, though.) Last weekend we headed over to Stockbridge for a Sunday-afternoon drive, and had just about the worst afternoon tea we'd ever had. Small, extremely dry scones, a very minute (and carefully-rationed) amount of clotted cream, all complete with a Fawlty-esque character who was presumably the proprietor. I have forgotten the name of the placer but it is somewhat immaterial - we shan't be visiting again. It seems typical of these tourist-trap villages where proprietors know that they can peddle any old rubbish and still make money. In fact, I suppose we are quite lucky since another village we know - Burley in the New Forest - actually has a rather nice tea room, despite attracting tourists by the coachload.

For Jacqueline's birthday, Alice bought her some stuff on eBay - heaven knows what but something "crafty", and I have yet to buy her a Light Box. I'll buy it after payday, but its not as if she needs it right now in any case! We also got her some nice smellies from Fortnum's, and a small box of chocolates from Charbonnel et Walker.

Still on the subject of Jacqueline, she's got a new job. Somewhat out of the blue, since she wasn't even looking. The new practise contacted her, and she moved forward with it on the basis that it might offer some extra hours on top of her existing job. But it was sufficiently more hours, and the role obviously had sufficient positives, that she has now decided to take the job instead of her current job. Far better hours, since for the most part she is working mornings which means that the "picking Alice up from school" chestnut for the most part is resolved.

DVD backups are still in full swing, in fact almost complete. Another week will see it through I think. I've also bought some DVDs lately too - mainly some French language stuff but also the Indiana Jones and Back to the Future trilogies. A bit disappointed since a lot of Alice's DVDs appear now to be unplayable. I have just replaced Mary Poppins and it would appear that Sleeping Beauty and Robin Hood have gone the same way. Of course, this is really the first time ever that I've effectively collated the DVDs - and of course the whole process of getting them onto the computer will mean that she does not touch the actual disks again.
Had to visit the DVLA earlier in the week, my car tax had run out and I hunted high and low, without success, for the registration document. Ended up having to request a new one, of course in exchange for a disproportionate fee.

So, yesterday started off fairly normally. I happened to take the later train in and was just going down into the Jubilee line at a quarter past nine. There was a train waiting in the station, but not going anywhere because of a "power surge" at some stations. They let slip that the whole Tube network was affected, and of course when you stop and think about it, this immediately raises suspicions. Still, no trains going anywhere so in common with everyone else got overground once again. Since I was in the midst of thousands of others at Waterloo, there was no point waiting for a bus or trying for a taxi, so just started walking...

Fortunately, the first thing I did when I got to the client's office was to phone Jacqueline to tell her what an awful journey I'd had. Whilst we didn't know at that stage what had happened, she did at least know that I was safe and whining like a good 'un. Then, of course, web sites started breaking the news. Explosion at Liverpool Street, Bus blown up etc. All very piecemeal and, at this early stage, unconfirmed. Different web sites saying different things. For the rest of the morning it was clear that something had happened, but not yet what. One of the guys who works for the client had been in contact with his wife, who works in Fenchurch St, and who said that they had all been evacuated into the centre of their (bomb-proof) building. Another report of a suicide bomber being shot at Canary Wharf.

As time progressed events became clearer, although not the travel situation. We heard that the whole of the travel network was suspended, yet at the same time South West Trains were reporting that Waterloo was open and that services were running. So, getting home may still be an issue... As the afternoon progressed, there were continued mixed messages, and I pretty much decided that the only way to find out what was happening would be to walk across to Waterloo and see for myself. As it happened, I left the office early, at four o'clock. There were lots of people on the streets, but Waterloo was indeed behaving as normal. My train left on time and I duly arrived in Salisbury - somewhat earlier than I had intended, to boot.

I would have to say that I felt a huge feeling of relief once I stepped off the train at Salisbury - a definite feeling that my destiny was back in my own hands somewhat.

When I got home, Jacqueline was surprisingly stressed about all of this, far moreso than myself. I suppose there was the worry there that something might yet happen - we had spoken several times during the day but the fact that the mobile networks were out meant that we couldn't necessarily speak "at will". Plus, Jacqueline has said several times about how she fears my working in London for exactly this reason.

Phone calls from several people, including Isabelle, to make sure I was Ok.

Nice early-ish night last night and back into town this morning. Train quite empty. Wore some trainers - if there's one thing these bombs have reinforced it is how dangerous it is to travel by public transport, especially to somewhere that is walkable anyway. So, an enforced fitness drive!

Plans for the weekend - possibly a visit to Mottisfont Abbey, weather permitting (weather pretty lousy today, not at all July weather). Plus I think Jacqueline has booked a shift in A&E on Sunday.

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