Sunday, July 30, 2006

Anyone Have the Keys to Canada? (My London Trip Part 3)

After trudging back to the Tube Station near Oriental City, yesterday, I waited for the Northern Line train that would take me south, toward Tom, the Injured Cyclist's flat. The day had been a bit cloudy, but as I sat on a bench on the station's platform, the sun broke out. This far out of central London and the underground becomes a surface train, so I was waiting outdoors in the lovely weather. London is really nice in the summer sun. As it was now the evening rush hour, the station was a lot busier than it had been, earlier. The train arrived and I got on board. I found a seat, as I had several stops to ride before I reached the point where I would change lines. As the train made it's way, I noticed several really good looking women in the carriage The evening rush hour had all the female office workers out, on their way home. As it was summer and warm they wore revealing attire. Women are fascinating. Each one looks different. Endless combinations of eyes, hair, lips, noses.
Eventually, I got off at London Bridge Station, where I could change to the Jubilee Line. As I was making the connection, I saw even more beautiful women! Ahead of me, I spotted a woman with long dirty blond hair, wearing a navy blue skirt, with a slit in the back. The skirt accentuated her figure, as she walked in some smart, high heeled pumps. I could get lost following her. Tom had sent me two messages about where he lived. The first mentioned the two closest Tube stops to him. The second gave his address. I had remembered the second, but I forgot the first. What Tube stop had he said, again? Damn it, I couldn't remember. Looking at the underground map, I was pretty sure one he mentioned was "Canada Water." It sounded familiar. Looking at the maps and my A to Z, I figured Canada Water was best. When he said his address, he said what road it was off. Looking in the index of the A to Z(which is a London street atlas, for my American readers), I couldn't find Tom's street listed. It just wasn't there. My A to Z is 18 years old. I got it on my second trip to London. It had never failed me before. London is an old city and the roads don't change that much...usually. Well, I could see the street he said his was off of, so if I just walked along it, then surely I would find him. Canada Water Station wasn't on my 18 year old A to Z, either. Still, judging by the position of the river, I was sure Canada Water had to be right.
When I get to Canada Water and go above ground, I head for an exit that says the name of one of the streets I see in my A to Z. When I get above ground though, there are no street signs and I can't be sure where I am. This is a problem in Britain. They so often have intersections that don't always have street signs. And the roads curve a lot, so it's less straightforward than New York, for example. Imagine, people who have lived here all of their lives need a street atlas to find their way around. I didn't need a street atlas in New York, until I started driving professionally and I wanted to find obscure locations in the outer boroughs. So I am trying to decide if I should go left or right. I opt for right. Surely, eventually, I will find a street sign. When I do, the road is one that's also not in my A to Z. Great! I keep walking, as the road is curving in the general direction I think I need to go. I come across a bus stop. Many bus stops ave local area maps posted on them. Consulting that, I figure out where I am. It's further than I first thought. I use my Travelcard and hop a bus going in the direction I want to go. Why walk, when you can ride?
By this time, its' after 6PM and I still haven't heard from Tom, yet. Surely he must be back by now, shouldn't he? I get off the bus at the intersection with the road Tom said his was off of. I must be getting close. I start walking and looking for Tom's street. I have seen pictures of where he far, I don't; see anything that looks like that. I pass a bus stop. I wonder how much further it is? There is a bus I could be riding, instead of schlepping in these shoes? Eventually, I start seeing an area that looks similar to th photos of where he lives. I know there are boats outside where he lives. At least I am headed in the direction of the river. I saw a place called Canada Quays (pronounced keys), earlier, so this whole area is full of nautical names. I pass one small road after another, with various nautical names. Tom's has a somewhat nautical name, as a stretch. Someone decided to go all themed when they were naming this area. How trendy. These places look a lot more expensive than Bracknell. Tom must be doing much better than me, financially. Well, most people are doing better than me.
Finally, I found it! Still hadn't heard from him. As much as I hate spending money on a cell phone call, I whipped out my phone and called him. He answered! How long had he been home? I said, "I thought you were gonna call me?" He apologized. Tom had gotten back from his physical therapy hours earlier than expected. And I had been taking my time. If he'd called me when he got home, like I suggested, I coul d have been there much earlier. He said he would send Katie out to get me. I headed their way. There were two buildings to choose from and he'd not told me which one. I tried the one on the right. Katie came out of the one on the left. When I first suggested that I come visit Tom, while I am in town, he hadn't mentioned Katie. Eventually, he told me she would be joining us. Maybe he wanted her there to protect him, in case I turned out to be an ax murderer, or something. But who would protect her? She was an ex-girlfriend turned friend, or something, I don't know.
She led me into the building and to Tom's flat. There he was, spralled over the settee. Tom injured himself in a freakish bike accident, in which he severely broke his leg. The cast is off, but he's still recovering. There was another, matching chair, but if I took that, where would the lovely Katie sit? They told me to sit and she went into the kitchen. I teased Tom that when I had heard him on Opal Bonfante's show, the night before, he sounded so young. A litte self-deprecating humor, always a good idea. They gave me a cool beer and we started talking. Well, I did most of the talking. It's been ages since I have socialized with anyone. Weeks. I must be starved of human company.
Katie looks much more beautiful than the pictures of her that I have seen. It turns out she's been to law school, as well. I love educated women. She's from Wales, but has a posh English sounding accent, with a funny undercurrent, that must be the Welsh trying to come out. She makes some bits of bread with cheese and leeks on them. I take one and she gives me a look like she wants me to take three. Hey I had a big lunch. I didn't want to show up hungry and then be begging them for food. Tom and I both talked about how we each called Opal's show, the night before. He mentioned Katie flirting with James Max, who co-hosted that show, with Opal. I warned her that I didn't think James was right for her. Sorry James. She went on about how she was having trouble finding a boyfriend. Tom seemed to look uncomfortable when this was mentioned. Oh, there must be a story there. Why did he let this one get away, eh? Katie kept pushing her bread thingys. Apparently, she likes to cook. A proper little legally educated homemaker, that one. They switched me from beer to sparkling wine. We took some photos, All too soon, it was time for me to start heading home. I had to catch the last train to Bracknell, from Waterloo Station, and it left at 11:30PM. If I missed it, I would be stranded. Katie walked me out and I found the nearest bus stop. I wasn't walking all that way back. Might as well get as many rides as possible from my Travelcard. By the time I walked home from the Bracknell train station, it was just past 1AM. By the way, Happy Bastile Day!
You can read about Tom, the Injured Cyclist in his blog, available at his Myspace page:


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