Posted by: Paul | September 7, 2010

Strike!

There can be few days when I’m more glad I no longer work in London, than the day of a Tube strike.

Having said that, I’ve only narrowly escaped it this time, when a London job I initially had booked for today was moved because of the threat of the strike. I miss out on a little bit of cash, but also on two extremely long walks and a great deal of hassle.

I know working on the Tube (or for that matter, the railway) is not exactly the most pleasant of jobs. But seriously, when areas of the private sector are into their third year of pay and benefit freezes, London Underground workers should, in my opinion, be bloody glad they’re getting anything at all – not to mention their unionised protection, shorter working week and generous pension / benefit schemes…don’t get me started.

But today I’m lucky. I can sit at home and make a start on building my business website from the comfort of my dining table while everyone else attempts to pile onto buses, flag down that last black cab, or just plain walk to get to where they need to be (I myself would have been walking, as I said).

There’s one particular strike memory I have, from quite a few years ago – it was winter, and the tube had been stopped all day. I was working in Bermondsey at the time and the walk to Liverpool Street was about 45 minutes at a fast pace. So at the end of the day I set off into the cold night, and by the time I crossed Tower Bridge it was snowing very heavily. I wasn’t very pleased with Bob Crow that day, I can tell you. There weren’t many other people attempting to walk so though it was rush hour, there were less crowds than usual and the snow dampened the sound of the traffic so it was fairly quiet, almost peacful. London has rarely looked so pretty as that moment I stood on the bridge, looking upriver past HMS Belfast, with the Tower of London on my right all lit up through the snowflakes. Snow has this sort of magical quality, does it not? At least if you’re walking, you have the opportunity to slow down a bit and take in your surroundings. Take time to notice things around you today, London – it’s not like you have a choice.

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