Ten Things That London Commuters Have Taught Me

My time of the commute is nearly at an end and the wide-eyed considerate human that I once was has been replaced by a woman that goes, “Tssk“.

1. No matter how relaxed you are when you get off the train, the tube will get you. I swear, you could have meditated the entire time on the lovely overland train and arrived in a state of blissful calm, and it will be ripped from you the moment you stand up. The wave of “I must get off first, I must walk faster, get out my way, oh for Pete’s sake” will hit you the second you get off the train.

2. Your elbows and bum are weapons of mass destruction. When pushed into a corner by surly men in suits a deft nudge with your elbow (note: I said nudge) can get you room to breathe. If this fails look at man in question with horror in your eyes, catch his eye and then look at his hand and then your bum. He will think he touched it. He will move rapidly away. Use in emergencies only.

3. After three days you will go “tssk“. I’m sorry, but it’s true. Those people who you labelled as rude and unfriendly when you first started commuting to London are now YOU. At first I was astonished by how many people tutted at me under their breath because I just wasn’t fast enough. Today (and yesterday) I tutted myself. I am ashamed.

4. You will sit next to the freaks. On my first day it was Mad Snot Flicking Man who sat next to me and leered at me the entire way home. On my second it was Strange Growths Man who wanted to play footsie under the table. Now, as I approach the train home I think to myself, “Do I sit in the single seats next to the loo and endure the smell, or do I risk it and sit on a normal seat and see who sits beside me?” To be honest, the answer depends on whether or not I’m eating my dinner on the way home. And even then it’s hit and miss…

5.  If you are running late everything will stop working. Train tickets demand that you get there on time. Miss your train and you pay again (and out your nose). Usually you need to catch two tubes to get to the rail station. If one tube grinds to a halt because some [insert adjective here] human has pulled the alarm or tried to eat the conductor, the rest will follow suit. Or your next tube will be so full that it should be entered into the Guinness Book of Records.

6. Pretend you can’t see anybody else. I have been stood on, crushed, bumped and elbowed, and that’s just trying to cross the main station to get to the tube. I have noticed that those who escape unscathed are those who just walk and pretend they can’t see anybody else. You either get a briefcase in your eye or you leap out of their way. That said, if you are thin or short, adopt this strategy at your own risk.

7. Rational thought is abandoned in favour of the chase. It’s insane. You can see that the queue to get through the ticket barrier is about 30 people thick in all directions, but there are still people shoving past you to get in front. Why? The queue is just as bad on the other side! It bewilders me. I end up overtaking/catching up with these Furious Flappers five minutes later and my eyes aren’t bulging in fury. They’re cardaic arrests waiting to happen.

8. People are fabulous. You can be forgiven for thinking that I hate everybody on the commute so far, but actually there are some really lovely moments. You can meet new people, have fascinating conversations, and die with delight watching children giggle with their parents on long train journeys.

9. By the time you get to work you need a lie-down. I am filled with admiration for people who do this commute every day, every week, for many years. I am. They need awards and special holiday retreats. When I get to work after my two hour commute I’m almost incapable of coherent thought. The people I’m working with think I’m an idiot. They’re not entirely wrong…

10. You can fit 100 people into a space the size of your toilet. And then you can stop at another station and squeeze in a couple more. And again. And again. Then, when you have an armpit in each eye, an ass on your hand, a handbag exploring your spine and sweat pouring down your face, the tube will stop and a voice will come over the intercom and say, “Sorry for the delay folks but there appears to be a faulty train at the next station and they’re just moving it onto the siding.”

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The Great Escape[s]

It appears that exotic pets around the world have received a memo – Escape And Scare The Natives. I am finding it hilarious.

So, on Tuesday Panjo the tiger escaped from the back of his owners’ bakkie in South Africa. While on his way to the vet, Panjo broke free from his cage and went off to explore the surrounds of Pretoria. It wasn’t the fact that there was a 140kg tiger running loose that got me but rather the news coverage that surrounded it.

The radio stations in SA were all chatting about there being a tiger on the loose the same way you might discuss some tea leaves having come loose. The online coverage was hysterical. My personal favourites are this one from the BBC where they felt it necessary to point out that tigers are not native to SA. HAHAHA. And this one where they talk about him having a bottle on the sofa like a baby.

I guess I just found the fact that the owner was really worried about Panjo’s cuts and bruises very amusing. Not because I want a tiger to be hurt, no no, but because it’s a TIGER. These animals roam jungles and kill us with a pat of their paw. And we’re worried about him wandering around the bush for a few days?

The second animal that has decided to amble off into the wild is a pet boa constrictor in Essex. 

What is with these people and their insane pets? A tiger I can kind of understand. I mean, tigers are cool and a pet tiger is somewhat awesome. But a pet boa constrictor? Can you even train it not to eat you?

Again, I am demonstrating my dark sense of humour by finding this entire article hysterically funny. I started giggling at, “bathroom window”, and was almost crying by, “It is possible the breeding season could have encouraged the reptile to go out hunting and it may have left the town“.  I am aware of the fact that  laughing about a rogue boa constrictor is A Bad Thing, but I’d like to assume he will be found, won’t have injured any Yorkshire Terriers, and will be safely home before long.

However, on a slightly more arachnaphobic note, I have often wondered whether any of those completely insane (in my opinion because I am terrified) people who collect deadly spiders have had any escapes? What would happen if someone accidently knocked over a glass case with a hairy nasty in it? What would happen if they knocked them all over? I mean, that can happen. Anything can happen.

Would these spiders get loose, breed and start a reign of terror in a country that is not prepared for toxic spiders? Would they die because the weather conditions are not ideal? I know this thought gives me the creepy crawlie terrors. I can only hope that this “accident” happens in the middle of winter so any escapees freeze to death.

Shudder.

 

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Make Lemonade

There’s a saying, I’m not sure where from, that goes, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade,” and today I read a story that made me realise how lucky I am. How I should stop whining and stressing when things in my life are tough, because there is someone who’s always got it harder.

 This story is about a mother. A mother who’s life was turned upside down by the earthquakes in Haiti. Her two month old daughter had been trapped in the rubble of the hospital where she was receiving treatment for burns, and Marie Seignon had been told that she died. I can’t even imagine how horrific that must have been for Marie.

 Today, in the news, Marie Seignon was reunited with her daughter six months later. A charity, called Facing the World, had whisked the child to London, to the Great Ormond Street Hospital (a charity I support) where she was treated for burns. 

You see, there had been another baby found in the ruins of that Haitian hospital, which is why Marie was told that her child was killed. She spent the last six months of her life unaware that her child was still alive. How unbelievably heart breaking is that? 

Facing the World then went on to track down Marie using documents found in the rubble and DNA tests. 

Marie had been sitting at home when her friend heard them asking about Marie on the radio. The friend had raced across to her house and told her, “Please sit down, This may sound like something out of the movies but sometimes movies do come true. I need to tell you that Landina is alive.” (source)

If you have dry eyes reading this then you are a tougher person than me, because I am sobbing just writing this (I look like I right wally on the train). I can’t imagine the horrific time Marie endured for the past six months as she attempted to come to terms with her child’s death. 

If Squidge were taken from me I honestly do not know how I would go on. This is one of those moments that makes me think, “There but for the grace of God go I.”

 And now, Marie has been reunited with her little girl and somehow this little moment of magic seems to lift just a little more of the tragic cloud that hangs over Haiti. 

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to somehow fix the damage I have done to my make-up.

Mums are doing it for themselves

Today, in my ambles across the wonderful web, I encountered a site that is just fantastic. One mum has taken it upon herself to help other mums get their heads around the complexities of WordPress. She’s got help topics, advice, expert tips and more, all there for free.

I have to say that I have lost several happy hours to her blog and, as a result, have uncovered some great stuff to improve mine. She said that lately people have been demanding loads of free help and sounded pretty down so I decided to let the world know about her hard work. I hope it cheers her up.

Bravo Blog Mum!