I’m out for lunch. There is a dingy little cafeteria on a side-street not far from my “employer”. What the street is, is unclear. The employer is around the corner, and then about fifty yards up that street. The area isn’t one of those areas that you bother exploring. There are offices here; a couple of shops selling packets of milk and plastic-wrap sandwiches to the office folk nearby. And this cafeteria. Here I sit, on my lunch-break, balancing my laptop on my lap, sitting on paled cushions staring out of the window onto the street where grey figures pass up or down.
London. The dream was always to end up here. Is this success? This isn’t what I had in mind, but I suppose that the reality of London must impose itself on the impossible image in my head. No vista panorama of the Thames, St Paul’s, and the Tower Bridge. Just smooth boring grey concrete and brick walls in all directions in a megacity that doesn’t care if I’m here or not. It won’t adapt to me. I must adapt to it. And kill off rosy imagery in my head. And there’s this dingy cafeteria for whatever of the weary proletariat that call this area ‘home’ for a few hours per day.
I left my town this morning. I took the car and drove to Wandsworth where I parked the car in the driveway of one of Mark’s friends, and took the tube the rest of the way. I’m going to stay in London for the working week. One of my friends from back in College agreed to let me use a sofa while I settle down. It will be a week of catching up. Just us boys. I’ll go home and see Mark a couple of times, and see to it that he doesn’t miss me too much. But for the first week, I need to become familiar with this place, this area. I’ll have more time in the morning to correct getting lost if I sleep in London. Maybe Mark will come in too, although he is carless since I have the car. However will he manage?
They stuck me in the smallest office. It’s just a cubicle with a window running along the ceiling. The first thing that happened was that the boss, a Sicilian woman, dumped a foot of printouts on my little desk. I’m allowed to use an old Mac that must be six or seven years old. It’s not even running OS X. That’s my ‘home’ away from home for the next year. The instruction about the pile of paper was: “See if you can find anything in this lot,” which probably means that it’s some kind of test.
The problems with tests is that one shouldn’t push too eagerly, but also not be too slovenly. A guarded caution, and a guarded eagerness is key. Thoroughness and awareness of blind alleys are keys too. The blind alleys are, I suppose, traps. They’re going to test me to see if I’m any good. I have seen a couple of things in the pile. Going to talk to the other people; involve them, question them.
I have lunch now. I have a whole hour to think, and to look at the brick walls everywhere. Maybe I’ll go down to a centre I can see a bit away. But there’s the problem of getting lost. The wise thing would be to wait until I’m more familiar. The girl at the counter is quite pretty, but plain. Is that an insult? I don’t think so. She looks natural. She has a bluish grey skirt, a sailor striped blouse in white and that blue-grey. Brown hair, tied together in the back with an unadorned red cloth strip. Also, she looks bored. There aren’t many patrons here. I could be… social. The good thing about being social is that people like you. Being mates with staff at different places is an amazing way to cut the queues without people becoming angry.
Perhaps I should eat something. I have tea. I have an hour to decide if I should eat. The butterflies in my stomach are still too strong. This must works out. In the meantime I can enjoy the carnage coming from the new book published by Lord Ashcroft, a formerly very prominent Conservative. He was the former Chairman of the party. A billionaire with deep roots in the low-ranking and ordinary members of the party. Yesterday he published a book which claimed that Prime Minister David Cameron is a necrosusphiliac. That’s a word I think I just invented, which means Dead Pig Lover. Yes, it involves a dead pig, Cameron’s penis, and quite a bit of thrusting on a dare before release. This was part of a bizarre initiation rite to some incredibly posh and exclusive Oxford students’ club.
Today I even manage to be a bit glad that I failed to get into that place. What would I have become?