Gather round gentle noders
and I'll tell you a tale, nay, a saga
deeds and terrible peril
. Today in London
) it has been snowing heavily. The temperature
is not particularly far below freezing
, and the winds are light, but the sheer volume
of snow had, unbeknownst to me, caused widespread transport chaos
. Please note, for the following journey please imagine several minutes of trudging through trecherous ice
, with leg muscles increasingly stridently protesting and toes
developing blisters, between each sentence
At 5.45 pm I skipped happily to the Bushey Red Lion bus stop(note: exaggeration. We do not skip.), where I am informed by a fellow commuter in textbook private investigator garb that there hasn't been a bus for over an hour. Being wise to the incompetent ways of Arriva, (having recently waited 45 minutes for a bus which turned out to be driven by an elderly man who insisted I held my bus pass about an inch from his face- so he could see it) I shrug this off and wait. During this time a fat old woman makes a string of bold claims about calling friends for lifts and attempting hitch-hiking, none of which are made good on. Two kids walk past the shelter at one point and stop to scoop up snow. I notice that they are wearing their gym shorts on their heads.
Finally (after what was probably less than 20 minutes) a bus arrives. The driver lets us on and tells us how he's already taken two hours to get from Watford. We crawl forward through heavy traffic for what seems like an age, managing a few hundred feeble metres before the driver announces that he's not going to go all the way to Edgware and if we want to try it to get off now. Dutifully, most of us take him up on the offer.
A train of commuters now heads on foot down a tree-lined avenue towards Stanmore. The traffic is gridlocked. On the approach to Stanmore station a middle-aged Japanese man loses his footing and for several seconds flounders in Looney Tunes style before successfully breaking his fall with arms outstretched and fingers tripodded out on the pavement in front of him, completely unscathed. Impressed with this, (after checking he's alright) I continue on my way and about a minute later slip on some black ice, falling in one deft movement onto the flat of my back. So I'm lying on an icy pavement, limbs flailing in snow angel fashion, while an audience of bored motorists looked on. Irritatingly, I am not dead. Throughout the journey I also suffer about five or six 'near misses' where I come within inches of losing my balance, the most nerve-wracking being while crossing Station Road, Edgware.
Arriving at Stanmore station I find that by this point, at least five of the tube lines have been closed. Press on to Edgware, fabled home of such stars as Pat Sharpe and Big Boy Barry. Someone has built a huge snowman outside of a kebab shop outside of Stanmore. On the way to Edgware, I help push-start some bloke's Jaguar. I finally arrive at Edgware Station and discover that all bus services are cancelled.
I am, basically, completely and utterly fucked.
After stopping to buy some chocolate and a drink, I bite the bullet and head off in the general direction of Mill Hill. I turn my phone off to preserve its dwindling battery power, so it can be called upon in the unlikely event that I can get someone to rescue me (driving is close to impossible and no minicab firms are operating).
Up until this point I have managed to follow the correct route, my non-existent sense of direction having not led me into a merry game of stupid and pointless backtracking (for once). But on leaving Edgware town centre I have a sudden feeling of dread as I see no bus stations, or any other recognisable landmarks, for a number of minutes. Looming up ahead at the end of the residential street I have chosen as 'definitely' the right way there is an unmistakable (and almost tangibly smug) dead end. Oh no! But as luck would have it, the dead end includes a small pedestrian walkway, which, miraculously, joins onto a main road complete with correct bus stations. That was a close one.
I pass through Mill Hill Broadway noting that the station is completely deserted. The Broadway pavement is the most slow going and trecherous so far. I reach the Mill Hill roundabout and embark on the final leg of the journey, which is the most anxiety-inducing part.
My route would be more direct that the backroads taken by the bus, but due to mainly following the motorway there were no familiar landmarks and the problem of taking the right turnings, etc. In the end, the main problem with this part was that it took so bloody long- by the time I reached the turning towards my flat, I must've walked miles, and was exhausted. And then of course, the road to my house seemed to take forever to get down. Most of this leg of the journey involved shallow downhill slopes, straight pavements and thick ice- I wished I'd brought a luge or sledge of some kind. I finally arrive, shattered, at my flat at 10pm. I now harbour grave doubts as to whether I'll be able to get to work tomorrow at all...
For the attn. of Ken Livingstone:
Efforts to develop multi-legged and hovering modes of transport should be redoubled immediately. Good luck with the congestion charge and the new vivarium.
All the best
Your pal, fondue.