Blaine it on the Boogie

Friday was the first time I’d been in the Hobgoblin since…the troubles. It was Ros’ leaving do and so an exception. It was a very good turn-out and pretty good fun, but there was someone wrong – I’m still not sure what it was – it might just have been the fish out of water thing, and it might be the fact that most of the people who turned up were Librarians, but whatever it was I just wanted to go home. Our house with Batly and Humphrey was much more comfortable. As far as I can tell he’s still a bit pissed off with us for betraying his trust and taking him to the vets to have his nails and beak clipped. Sorry Humph but it’s really for your own good.

Yesterday I went up town and bought a very cheap USB MIDI interface. Lovely little thing it is, and it works perfectly with OS-X and Reason, which is a very good thing. I met Mod up town and we had a couple of pints in the Spice of Life. Lacking in lethargy she is very good at coming up with pleasant ways to kill time. On this occasion she suggested going down to see David Blaine in his plastic box. Now hear me out – it’s nowhere near as crap an idea as I’ve made it sound because the real purpose of the trip was to walk from Charing Cross Road along the river down to Tower bridge. And what a good idea it was. The weather was beautiful as we ambled across the new Hungerford bridge, along the south-bank, past TATE modern(TM), by the clink and down to the tower. Plenty of buskers, tourists, and crowds of idle layabouts like us who wanted to go for a walk by the river in the sun. That part of town is beautiful by the way – lots of nice restaurants, a couple of Fullers/Youngs pubs and lots to see (including that poncy twat off of The Salon on C4)
When we eventually got down to the tower I was shocked to see how many people had congregated there to see, what is after all, a man sitting down in a box. Hundreds of them. All looking up at him. At one point a huge cheer went up and I looked up to see he had stood up. The excitement was truly awe-inspiring.
Amongst the crowd was a bloke juggling fire and no-one could give a toss. He was juggling fire and the only reaction he got from people was slight irritation that he was blocking the view of the bloke sitting down.
Even more shocking than realising how many people would travel to see a man sitting down was the realisation that I was one of them.
The most surreal aspect of the day for me was that I had two arguments with connex employees. Nothing strange in that you might think. However I was arguing because I wanted to buy a ticket and they were trying to hinder me. Firstly on the way up there was no-one working at St John’s so I had to spend 5p on a permit to travel. At the Cross I went to the “fares to pay booth” which was shut. So I walked over to the gates, expecting a load of grief and amazingly they waved me straight through. “No!” I protested, “where do I get this upgraded to a ticket ?” “At the ticket office” they said, gesticulating towards the station exit. Foolishly I went over to the ticket office with a view to buying a return ticket. The queue was obscenely long and only one window was open so I thought “fuck it” and walked out.

Coming back I went to London Bridge and walked into the ticket office. There was a roped off long single queue system like you get in the post office (only without a telly that plays Gloria Hunniford telling you about lots of ways to spend your money ) with only a couple of people at the front, so I walked towards the gap in the rope so I could join the queue without walking through the 72 miles of slalom that preceded it when a bloke in full conneX regalia stopped me. “Can you go round that way sir” he said pointing at the other end of the ticket hall where the start of the rope maze was located. “you are joking” I said. “No sir I’m not.” At this point I was ready to get all irate and bald at him when he interrupted me with “where are you trying to get to ?”. “Lewisham” I told him. “In that case, get on the train and pay at the other end.”

Now, dear reader, this may sound very kind and logical behaviour, and many years ago in those heady, carefree days before privatisation, it was what we used to do. But in recent times it has been made into a criminal offence to even enter the wrong part of the station without a ticket. I’ve been caught and harrased and irritated in the past on this one many, many times. In every case I got away with it because I was in the right morally and legally. But nonetheless the thought of yet another battle of wits with an unarmed individual was enough to encourage me to cough up 2 quid.

So I protested that he was encouraging me to break the law and that I wasn’t happy about it. To cut a long and tedious argument short I left for Lewisham with no ticket, got off at the other end with no ticket and decided not to walk down to the other end of the station, queue up and then piss of the people in the queue behind me by buying a complex and totally redundant ticket. 5p return to Charing Cross. You know it makes sense.

Tomorrow and Tuesday we are on strike. That means two days with no pay and early starts on the picket line. It is also the first day of registration when all the new intake of students turn up to register. There may be bloodshed.


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