Diary of an old cheeser

Hi there! Like other blogs, this is my chance to wax lyrical (some might say talk utter cr*p) about a) what's happening in my life b) all of my pet obsessions in particular music, tv, movies, books and other generally connected things, quite often of the retro, old and "cheesy" variety. Hence the title of my blog. Feel free to leave a comment if the mood takes you. There's nothing like a good chinwag about one's favourite topics and besides I love to meet new people! Cheers, Simon

Thursday, January 10, 2008

On the buses

Nice slogan...

I have fallen in love with a London Bus. It's official.

Some of you may think this is an extremely pitiful state of affairs. However I will now endeavour to explain the reasons why.

The main justification for my new-found amour is that I've now found a much more bearable route to work which involves catching a bus. More on that in a moment.

Since moving to a new area of London, Gustavo and I have had to adjust to the whole "new route to work" thing. It's radical! It's life-changing! And sometimes, it's a bloody pain-in-the-proverbials. The place where we now live is actually rather less well-located than our previous home in terms of getting to our respective workplaces, in spite of the fact that we live only 5-10 minutes away from a busy railway junction that has direct links to London Bridge. But more often than not in the morning you never get a seat on the train and have to stand all the way to London B (okay so it's a quickish journey, but having to jam yourself onto an already crowded train every morning starts to take its toll...) Then once at London B station, we either have to get a bus or tube to get to our work destinations, which usually involves a couple of changes and more standing-like-crushed cattle antics.

I hate it. It makes me question the whole ethics of living in London and I have done for some time. Originally I only moved here for the work opportunities and sometimes I wonder if it's all worth it. But my hubbie is more of a fan of London than me and doesn't seem to mind so much. And marriage is about compromise, huh? Still I'm hoping that in years to come, I can persuade him to move further out of the Big Smoke and into more relaxed, less stressful environs ... we'll see.

Meanwhile, I think as I grow older I'm actually growing less tolerant of the commuting-to-work thing. When I look at some elderly businessman hunched over his Metro on the tube, looking like he's been making the same tedious journey for several decades, I think: "How can you?" My hat goes off to people like that (if I was wearing one that is). Perhaps I'm not thick-skinned enough and should learn to grin and bear it, but I'm just not a fan of commuting.

Having lived in London since 1999, I've been travelling to work by public transport pretty much all of that time. Actually that's not strictly true.
My very first job dans Londres involved teaching in a secondary school that was about 10-15 minutes walk from my house, so with respect to getting to work, it was a piece of p*ss. All I had to do was walk out the front door and take a brisk stroll across a common. Wonderful. Then I relocated to West London to work at another school. Getting there involved a quick tube journey (a few stops on the Central line) followed by a walk to work. Not too bad, but the public transport aspect was starting to kick in. Although the fact I was travelling OUT of London rather than IN stood in my favour. Then I quit teaching and took a temporary job working...wooh!...in the City! The complete opposite to what I was doing before and literally a "reverse" journey i.e. I had to travel INTO Central London rather than AWAY from it. It seemed that I was being sucked into the rat-race, joining the ranks of lemming-like commuters...This was followed by another job (and the one I was doing prior to my current position) working for an awarding body, again close to the City. I had no choice but to become a regular Tube-termite...it seemed there was NO OTHER WAY...

...That is, until I got hold of a push-bike and...gasp!...dared to brave the dangerous roads of London, filled with aggressive drivers and mad motorcyclists. Yes, I actually cycled to work. Some of my friends thought I was totally crazy. Suffice to say, most of the time biking it to my workplace was actually fine for me and literally a breath of fresh air (well, as fresh as being out in the fume-filled, polluted air of the capital can be). I enjoyed the freedom of not being stuck underground, reliant on late-running trains and hemmed in by masses of other people. It was great being able to weave in and out of traffic, there was the fitness aspect and I was usually able to get to work in the same amount of time as public transport! Unfortunately, later on I had my bike stolen, and fool that I was, hadn't had it insured. I haven't replaced it since and it has to be said, cycling to work from where I live now would just take TOO long, so is not an option. Ah well.

So. Having given you a potted history of my existence as a commuter in London, here I now am. Having been making the train/tube journey to work from my new home for less than two months and growly rapidly fed-up with it, I discovered a BUS, which travels from close to where I live, all the way to work! (Well, within five minutes' walking distance!) And it goes fast from West Norwood to Waterloo, so it's not one of those "seems to take forever and stops everywhere" type journeys (hence the "X" for "Express" - clever eh). Now, if any of you are really sad stalker-types you might even be able to work out which bus I'm referring to and from where I'm catching it. But I'm not telling you. Too much information. The Cheeser has to preserve a little anonymity. Go figure!

Anyway, here's what now happens. I leave the house, walk up the hill for about 10 minutes, wait about 5-10 minutes and the bus turns up! I ALWAYS get a seat, so can snuggle up nicely with my book or iPod and can then sit back and enjoy the journey without having to budge! No walking through horrid, packed London Bridge station, no descending to the murky depths of the underground, no having to get off ten minutes later and shove through the hordes...Then I arrive at my destination, and as said, can walk into my work building in about five mins. It does actually take a little longer than the original train/tube journey (door-to-door about 1 hour, 20 mins) but it's worth it for the relative ease of the journey and the not-having-to-shift-one's-butt aspect. Virtual bliss.

Until I change my job that is.

Now, I know a fair few of you out there are not Londoners, so probably don't have to endure what we mad City dwellers have to put up with. Aren't you the lucky ones, eh?

what's YOUR journey to work like? Do tell.


  • At 3:32 pm , Blogger thomas said...

    when i was still living in B'ton I had a 15 minute walk along the seafront to work - those were the days, huh? right now my commute from Bethnal Green to Ealing has the daily potential of epic drama, just getting through the highly congested city area is the worst bit. I'd love a shorter commute too!

  • At 10:04 pm , Blogger The Sagittarian said...

    Oh, I will never again moan about the 10 minute drive to my office, the park with my name on it under the building...even tho' I could walk to work anyway! I drive cos I need the car during the day and also to drop the kids off at their various schools along the way. Its also great being able to pop home at lunch time to either get my music fix uninterrupted or get some chores done to save bother after work....ok, ok, I'll shut the f*** up!

  • At 11:19 pm , Blogger matty said...

    Well, I'm currently unemployed and unemployable -- but when I was employed I was still in GayTown and could walk to work. Sigh.

    Hey, what is up with that slogan on the picture of the bus??!?! I must be missing something. Right?

  • At 12:02 am , Blogger Lost Boy said...

    I walk to work. It takes about an hour door-to-door. it's quite a nice walk through Borough market and then along the South Bank and across the wobbly bridge, by St Paul's and then towards Farringdon.It's about the only time of the day I get to myself and, if it's dry, one of my favourite parts of the day.

  • At 12:30 am , Blogger Annie said...

    Hiya, one one of my friends lives in West Norwood - St. Gothard Road - do you know it?

    Great post OC. My work journey usually involves stumbling downstairs and falling into my office - whilst still in dressing gown and slippers. It's one of the joys of working from home :-)

  • At 4:15 am , Blogger Deemer said...

    Wow OC I am really impressed with the amount of posts since the new year. I agree with you on so many levels on this post. After having lived in Nyc, dc and chicago I am tired of cities. If its not traffic, it is over crowed public transportation. The train that I took in Chicago was always so dirty I never wanted to sit in it. One time I sat down and felt something wet and smelled piss. City living at its finest.

  • At 5:38 am , Blogger MOTHER OF MANY said...

    I live in Cardiff which is a city BUT a very small one and thankfully, even though I live on the edge of it I can get into town or any where else in the city in approximately 15 minutes in the car.
    What is most impressive is your continuing positivity to your daily travel arrangements.

  • At 9:01 am , Blogger Steve said...

    With Leamington being quite a compact town I can easily walk from one side of it the next... so getting to work for me is dead easy: a 20 minute relaxing walk with my MP3 player merrily blaring away. I have to catch a bus to Uni though and share your contentment of getting a seat and being able to snuggle up with a good book or some music. Travelling to work (or indeed anywhere) should be a pleasure in itself... for those few minutes or hours when you're travelling you're about as free as you'll ever be if you think about it. All that potential! No one's got any claim on you. You could go anywhere.

    Yeah. I know. Then reality kicks in and you find yourself at work earning enough dough to pay the bills... but at least you can enjoy the journey!

  • At 1:43 pm , Blogger Old Cheeser said...

    Thanks lots for all your comments and stories, everyone!

    Hi Thomas - Yes I remember the Brighton days and the ease of getting from A to B. Being able to walk home after a night out! How those times are missed! So that means you get the Central line to work, by a rough calculation?

    Amanda - Lucky you, having the walking/driving option! Of course I understand having siblings attending school, driving is necessary...Yes shut up and stop rubbing it in!!!
    (heh heh)

    Matty - Well, I'm sure your circumstances are going to change in the not too distant future.

    The slogan is really taking a dig at the whole Islam/Muslim thing. I'm not much of a religious / political person but that way of thinking is taking more of a hold in this country, certainly as we have more immigrants arriving from Islamic countries, then raising their kids here...As for what the slogan is actually advertising, I don't know! I just thought it was funny. Kind of controversial though and bound to cause offence to some i.e. Muslim people!

    Lost Boy - Hello there! I remember your story about walking to work on your blog. Sounds like a nice journey too. If it was raining like this morning though, probably not always that pleasant? I guess you save cash though!

    Hello Annie - Nice to hear from you and thanks for the comment! I don't know West Norwood that well so can't place that street unfortunately (I live down, or up, the hill depending on your point of view!) My only real experience of the place is going out to the ahem, premier gay nightspot there, Ego!! Ask your friend if she's heard of it! It's a hilarious dive...

    Deemer - Thank you! Yes, I am getting back into my blogging stride now (how long will it last?!) So I see you've had your fill of cities too. You said on your blog that you're in "upstate" NYC which means kind of suburban/rural, right? I'm sure it's less horrid and no pissy-smelling trains either! Bliss!

    Talking of which, I remember once sitting in the same carriage (but thankfully not too close to) a man on the tube with yellow stained jeans who had actually p*ssed himself. Revolting, unbelievable and funny in equal measures. It was funny seeing people get on the train - they'd do the classic London thing of not really looking at who was around but sitting down at the nearest available seat - then a few minutes later once they'd sat down, they'd get a smell of his delightful "scent" and rapidly move somewhere else!

    Mother - I would love to go to Cardiff one day. I stayed with a friend in Aberystwyth and asked her if we could make a trip there but she said it was actually a tricky journey! A 15 minute journey sounds like bliss. Oh, you are all making me SO jealous!

    Well, I am trying to stay positive about the travel thing...sometimes I find it hard to tell the truth. As long as that bus continues to turn up...!

    Steve - Another easy journey, eh? I do find that having music helps considerably. Do you listen to Beverley Craven by the way?

    I like the "potential" thing you talk about - yes, and then you get to work itself and it's all downhill from there, ha ha! So ironically the journey to work itself is actually the most pleasurable part! Kind of an ironic turnaround from what I was talking about in the first place, eh?

  • At 2:56 pm , Blogger matty said...

    Interesting and a bit scary regarding the slogan.

    However, I'd like one on our buses which reads: "Please discontinue all fundamental Christian and Republican thought!" ...that would be good.

    I often feel that our scary Red States and Bush are leading the world to total ruin. And, I am embarrassed to count myself as a US citizen. And, now, it is as if I no longer exist. One has to make at least $60K here to get any level of decent health coverage. Scary.

    ...trying to figure out how we will afford my med needs after next month.

    I think we need to move to Canada where everyone is cool and there are no mean bus slogans! And, there is healthcare for all -- excepting dental. One must find a way to pay for dental. I could deal with that as I take good care of my teeth and gums.

    Now, go find some new music! lol!

  • At 7:33 pm , Blogger The Nasty Stewardess said...

    Sorry, last post was full of speeling mistakes....

    When I used to live in Stoke Newington I worked for an esate agency based in Old Compton Street. I had to get the bus to Liverpool Street then two tube changes and I loved the thrill of it all.

    A particularly memorable moment was when the bus drove by an armed robbery at a jewellers without even stopping... the drama!

  • At 5:18 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Very sexy bus!

    I mostly work at home so I don't even need to get dressed!

    But the city in which I live is relatively compact, so when I do need to go somewhere I tend to walk because I am so crap at parking (I need a slot large enough to fit that bus in).

    Brompton foldup bicycles are all the rage in London at the moment though, aren't they? Lots of people from here who commute into London take their Bromptons to save using the tube.

    Sagittarian sent me your way a while ago - I have only now got round to it.

  • At 12:36 pm , Blogger Flaming Nora said...

    "But my hubbie is more of a fan of London than me and doesn't seem to mind so much. And marriage is about compromise, huh? Still I'm hoping that in years to come, I can persuade him to move further out of the Big Smoke and into more relaxed, less stressful environs ... we'll see."

    Oh my word! I could have written that bit too!!! :-) I feel exactly the same OC..! x

  • At 6:29 pm , Blogger Old Cheeser said...

    Matty - Yes, point taken. That's really bad to hear about having to earn so much in the US to receive decent medical attention. The NHS in this country has a lot to answer for too and not all of us can exactly afford Private...why does it have to cost so much to maintain something as fundamental as health?

    Have heard about Canada and it's ultra-clean, healthy, green-friendly reputation. Have also heard it's rather boring and dull (!)

    I hope you'll manage to get your health needs met, anyway.

    Ms Stewardess! Hello, dear. Gosh, someone who actually ENJOYED making all those changes on the way to work every day! Sheer madness! Mind you, if we all had dramatic goings-on like the one you mentioned happen to us on the way to work, it would be a bit more bearable...dare I say entertaining?

    Relucant Blogger - Welcome! And big thanks to Amanda for pointing you in my direction (wise girl!)

    Yes another lucky person who can work from home - grrrrr!! Something I aspire to.

    Which city do you inhabit?

    Yes those bikes are "all the rage" here. It's kind of weird seeing the "suits" bombing along on little bike things...

    Nora - Aha!! Great minds and all that - glad to know someone else feels the same. I know from reading your blog you are a Northern girl and like me, originally come from a less crowded environment than London. Who knows what the future holds for us?!

  • At 6:31 pm , Blogger Old Cheeser said...

    And thanks for responding everyone, I'm very glad that this post has generated so many interesting comments!!

  • At 8:28 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...


    Yeah, Amanda is great for getting people chatting to each other. I only found out yesterday that she was called "Amanda" - I had been calling her "Sag" until then, which isn't quite so nice really!

    I live in Norwich!

  • At 12:51 am , Blogger CAROLINA URRA B. said...

    Well at here in Santiago of Chile the transport publishes it's wonderful. The buses traffic very followed, the system call "Transantiago".


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