Flat Foot Traveller

After travelling 5.5 hrs to Hampshire today, I have time before the scheduled interview (arranged over the telephone with an agency) at the Council, I have time to pop into Aldershot Library to check my emails and learn that the agency has sent me an email while I was travelling (I requested txt as I have no wifi access en route): The interview has been cancelled!

Booked on a return train to leave St Prancras at 2030, I decide to have another of my flatfoot traveller days in London – overcoming my relapse into serious dislike of (being in) the city – by walking. Mini-adventures without consumerism.
First stop an inclusive church where they were serving falafel lunches earlier on and are now tidying up. Avail myself of the facilities and discover a book by the clergy about inclusivity (Space for Grace) and a pamphlet about the World Congress of Faiths which sounds interesting. Round the corner, I ask the Evening Standard vendor which street to turn into – he does not understand or listen but is firm and self-assured in his advice. So I follow my nose. Next I pass a street cafe with some men in suits sitting on the pavement, talking in English – my first thought: They are speaking my language…
Further on, a neighbourhood centre (Coin Street) makes me wonder what american church may be behind it – due to the posh glass front…  As I walk, I find that I can check maps on almost every street corner; onwards over Blackfriars Bridge – which is a challenge as I suffer from vertigo in open spaces with heights. – so I keep to the innermost slabs of the pedestrian path and stop for a view of the Themse and OXO tower only once I have reached the embankment.    Dislike fading away, I see humans walking home from work, less tourists at this hour, and at the sandwich shop where I am now sitting – a Polish worker, grey-faced, struggles with my accent. Not only mine, I hear behind me as I type. Let’s see what’s next… Flatfoot practice will keep me grounded also, I hope, for the decisions I need to take in the next few days…
Coming out of the subway, I am completely lost – Ludgate Circus, with a wifi booth… juggling my laptop on one knee while standing, I still can’t get the details for my walk and can’t work out where north is… ask a young cyclist, waiting at red lights. He knows where north is, so I turn off, he goes straight on. After I have gone 100m, I hear him behind me, hispanic, gentle voice – he has now got my route up on his phone and smiles at me. So do I, at him, and thank him. London, ey. –
Next stop: Free Word Cafe – I go in and ask a young bookish looking guy how long I still have to walk to St Pancras and work out that even given his caveat, I might not be as quick as he is, I can have a drink before I walk on … but he says no, the cafe is closed – I see people in the back of a modern ground floor library hall reading – they are a literacy/literary organisation, he explains, sounding like he wants to go back to his book. Can’t blame him.
I make it to McD at King’s Cross and while I do not have a burger there, just write a quick update, I note that I do not escape consuming entirely – ending my mini-adventure at St Pancras with a can of cider and a copy of Bill Bryson’s History of Nearly Everything.
On the train, my battery is nearly flat and so are my feet.
Across the aisle I sit next to a man in his fifties who has a deformed left arm and as I see him stuggle to shake off his jacket, I ask ‘do you want a hand with that?’ – and he replies, to my delight, ‘oh, I am just playing the victim’; it delights me because I think immediately: Without eccentricity there  would be no movement, no development. And that in turn relates back to the agent’s non-communication: I am wondering whether it may have backfired that I asked him not to phone me for a third time while I was preparing for the interview. And, funnily enough, while walking on my way out, towards Waterloo, I had a little premonition: In my mind, for a moment, I could almost hear the interviewer speaking close to viciously and certainly without a sense of humour. I shook it off and thought to make the best of it. In the end, I probably have.

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~ by Barbara S on August 7, 2016.

One Response to “Flat Foot Traveller”

  1. A facebook friend felt reminded of a poem by Madeleine Delbrel that includes, towards its end, the line ‘… beauftragt im Ewigen zu atmen’ (commissioned to breathe freely, as I might translate it.)

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