Tag Archives: Commuting

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Hey y'all! It's been TIME! A new job will do that. How things?

Me? I'm good. The last few weeks have been crazy busy and despite being the woman who knows that rest is a choice I have found myself in the familiar pattern of running around super busy for three weeks so planning nothing for a week, getting bored and then planning another crazy three weeks, to get tired and so plan a week off, to then get bored and so plan another crazy three week, to get tired and so... you see where this is going? I thought Suburb Life would slow this down but all its done is add longer travelling times.

Speaking of which, in between fighting my fellow commuters for a seat on the train, perfecting in-carriage train surfing and managing to actually find a space to open my book when it's been super super busy, I’ve been reading Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens on my way to/from work. It is excellent, despite Dickens’ habit of explaining what happens next by telling you in the chapter title. Par exemple:

IMG_20140223_153807

At least give a spoiler alert or something. However, all has been redeemed by 'Chapter XXXV Containing the unsatisfactory result of Oliver’s adventure; and a conversation of some importance between Harry Maylie and Rose’ where I read this:

There were tears in the eyes of the gentle girl as these words were spoken; and when one fell upon the flower over which she bent, and glistened brightly in it's cup, making it more beautiful, it seemed as though the outpouring of her fresh young heart claimed kindred with the loveliest things in nature.

"The outpouring of her fresh young heart claimed kindred with the loveliest things in nature." It’s so beautiful I could cry – or lie in traffic (my go-to responses to anything of utmost beauty).

I have also discovered that Dickens wasn’t averse to a bit of a preach:

I have said that they were truly happy; and without strong affection, and humanity of heart, and gratitude to that being whose code is Mercy, and whose great attribute is Benevolence to all things that breathe, true happiness can never be attained.

I don’t know if he was a man of God or was pressured into it by his wife or publishers or whoever, but once you figure out what it means (I have already said that they were happy. Without love, compassion and gratitude to the One whose DNA is mercy and goodness, you can never truly be happy) it’s an unexpected surprise on page 360 of my edition – which happened to be another OxfamBooks win.

I have also finally finished reading The Prophetic Imagination by Walter Brueggemann. I have tried to read this book about five times over the past three years and each time had given up because I just didn't get it. But for some reason, this time round, it all made sense. So I'm reading it again so that I can scribble notes all over it – because the best books are well loved and marked. Here’s a few gems to delight your eyes and scramble your thoughts:

“What we understand about the Old Testament must somehow be connected with the realities of the church today.”

Amen brother.

“The task of prophetic ministry is to nurture, nourish, and evoke a consciousness and perception alternative to the consciousness and perception of the dominant culture around us.”

Preach.

“The dominant culture, now and every time, is grossly uncritical, cannot tolerate serious and fundamental criticism, and will go to great lengths to stop it.”

Word.

“Prophecy is born precisely in that moment when the emergence of social political reality is so radical and inexplicable that it has nothing less than a theological cause.”

As you can probs tell, there's been a lot of reading. I commute.

There’s also been a lot of listening to this:

Last Monday I played this non-stop for an hour (fortunately for my colleagues I had the office to myself). Another cry or lie in the traffic tune.

In other news I took a never-ending five-ish hour journey on the MegaBus to Leeds. Conclusion: people in Leeds have northern accents. 25 for 25 Task Nine is complete.

Speaking of which, in honour of Task 8 I have been trying to eat seasonal vegetables – it’s just ridiculous to fly spinach in from Argentina, and I resent the fact that my food has been to more exotic places than me. Also, eating seasonally is better for the environment (less airmiles and all that jazz) and better for you (seasonal produce contains all sorts of nutrients we need at that time of year). It's pretty easy to do - most supermarkets plaster the Union Jack all over the packaging, or you could get one of these (one of my most fave Christmas presents)...

seasonal veg

To round-off this round-up I leave you with a question I have been pondering of late:

What does a life lived right vs. a life of compromise mean?

So, here we are, at the end of my first half term holiday. I have decided that half term is one of the greatest things ever.
The school I work at is only a 35 minute walk away (30 minute brisk walk if I decided that I couldn't live without an extra 5 in bed)  and so I've set myself the challenge of walking to and from school four out of the five days I'm there. When I tell people this they sound amazed but I'm sure the tube/bus would take longer and so by walking I'm actually taking the lazier option that means I get to spend more time asleep.This walking commute has revealed to me a number of things, one of which is the lack of trust I have in my fellow Londoners:
I do not trust cyclists – they seem to think that they are above the Highway Code and so stopping at red lights are optional, even when they’re going at a million miles an hour and there are pedestrians (who have patiently waited for the green man) trying to cross the road. Suffice to say I have become an expert in diving out of the way of said cyclists while giving them a Death Stare that I hope conveys some of the contempt I have for them – in a loving Jesus way of course.
I do not trust motorbikes - you never know if it’s safe to cross or if they’ll nip round from behind a lorry and run you over.
I do not trust cars - when so many roads meet at a junction its impossible to watch every car to see if it’s likely to run straight toward you.
I do not trust pedestrian crossings - with traffic coming from 5 different directions how do I know that its got it right?
I do not trust that the guy reading a book as he walks down the road (just like Belle from Beauty and the Beast) will not walk into me.
All in all, if you aim to reach work without being run over there are many things to avoid and look out for (but don't worry mum, just in case I do get run over I make sure that my underwear matches). And so ultimately  I don't trust my own judgements when it comes to crossing roads. It's a miracle that I don't spend the whole day walking round and round the block.

So it’s been a few weeks now (five to be exact) since I started working for Foodbank.

Five weeks since I started spending almost two hours of my day observing the behaviour of that strange species of the workforce known as ‘Commuters.’

And this is what I have learned:
  • A packed train is a totally acceptable place to apply a full face and neck(!) of make-up.
  • A packed train is the perfect place to have an argument with your boyfriend (who just started working at the River Cafe - the same place as you) about waiting for the train on the wrong platform (which apparently was so typical of him because he did the same thing a couple of weeks ago when they went to visit her mum. Not that I was shamelessly eavesdropping on their conversation or anything).
  • A packed train is the perfect place to catch up on some sleep, even if you’re standing.
  • It is a commonly held belief (and practice) that pushing the button to open the train door before the train has completely come to a stop opens the door faster.
  • Looking tired and miserable is the only acceptable way to travel on trains.
  • You have elbows for a reason – use them or lose them.
  • There is no place for weakness in the Commuter’s territory – very young, very old, or just slow – they will not hesitate to walk all over you like they didn't even see you.

As you can see – it’s been educational.

But I’ve also learned about food. In particular, having no food.

People in England really do go hungry. People really do have no money for food.

I mean I knew this when I signed up to Foodbank but now I’ve actually seen it.

The first couple of weeks I spent most of my time visiting the London Foodbanks (we have 15 open at the moment and another 12 due to open soon). I saw how the Foodbanks operate and got to meet some of the volunteers and clients.

The first client I met was a guy who was probably in his early thirties. He’d been brought to the Foodbank by a couple of plain clothed policemen. He was pretty emotional. Turns out he’d been caught shoplifting bread and eggs earlier that day. His benefit had stopped 23 days ago and since then he hadn’t received any income. He said that once his food had run out he had to beg. He said hadn’t eaten for four days. Four days. And he’d gotten so hungry that stealing seemed to be his only option. He said he’d been off drugs and alcohol for six years and this was the first time he’d been in trouble with the police since then, he was really upset about this. He started to cry when we gave him some food. He was so thankful.

BOOM

That was when I realised. People really do go hungry. People really do have no food. In England.

That was when I realised what Foodbank was about and why it’s needed. Since that first week I've met a whole range of clients who for some reason, have no food or the means of getting any. 

This not something I expect to see in England.

So yeah, an educational few weeks to be sure.