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Monday, 18 March 2013

I was nearly run over by Gary Linaker and more besides.

The Sunday ended with Gary Linaker trying to run me over in his tractor but let's back track to the beginning of a working Sunday for me. Every Sunday I get the 8.09am number 10 bus from my village into the city and then, if I'm lucky, I jump on the 8.30am Indigo bus over to Beeston. Once in Beeston I usually have forty minutes to spare before I need to clock in and I spend that time over a leisurely coffee and almond croissant at Caffè Nero.

Yesterday I was on time, dressed and ready to nip out and catch my first bus. Then I felt I needed to go to the loo. This took a few minutes. Then I couldn't locate my key. The bus sailed majestically past my gate just as I reached for the latch. Bugger. There wouldn't be another bus for seventy minutes. I started to walk the four miles to work. I have walked part of the way before so I knew that it would take me approximately an hour to reach Wilford Road through a posh housing estate. That's a kind of half way mark to getting to Nottingham on foot.

En route, I cadged a lift from a man loading his car. He took me two hundred yards to the Wilford Industrial Estate where I used to work. I was aware of a short cut across the back of some houses and walked down into the industrial estate and to the back of the Serif Software unit. Alas, the short cut was no more and I discovered it to be all barred off with fences due to the tram works. Great! I turned back along the route I had come and further on up a hill towards the Apple Tree pub and through the housing estate. Via the duck pond and a dead duck (not the name of a pub but an actual dead duck in the kerbside) I trudged and finally arrived at a point of decision.

I was at a major intersection and I had the choice of going left or right. I was aware that going right towards Loughborough Road was actually further than one gives the journey credit for. Turning left towards Clifton and the A345 would bring me to a set of steps that would take me along a tow path alongside the motorway heading towards Dunkirk and the Queen’s Medical Centre. At that roundabout I could turn left towards Beeston along University Boulevard and Beeston High Street. The time was 8.53am. I turned left and decided to consider this morning's journey on foot as a good idea for a blog post. I had my camera with me and my dictaphone and made good use of both along the way. It was kind of fun contemplating the idea of a comic story from adverse conditions.

As I walked along the tow path to the purring and be-bumping sounds of the cars on the tarmac I shouted my notes into my dictaphone and photographed the rain swollen river Trent. At least it wasn't raining on this walk. Further along I could see the rooftops of Sat Bain's hidden restaurant and a lone brooding horse in a very wet looking field.

As I came down the slope in the direction of a big section of traffic islands, a scary looking overpass appeared to my right. It hung there with black pools of water on the waste land underneath. Was I now in some Stygian version of the Austrian Tyrol? Amongst the detritus that lived in the bare branch hedges and oily scrub-land was the shattered wheel trim from someone's Audi. To complete the beauty of the scene; a used condom lay limply on bunch of thistles with only a discarded beer can for company.

Foot weary I slogged past the old Central TV studios where I once worked as an extra in Crossroads. More vehicular purrs, first distant, then closer and louder, and less loud as each car passes. A runner with no hands jogs past me in orange. It's 9.19am as I am approaching the multiplex Showcase cinema, all squat and full of cinematic memories of films seen and sticky feet from the damp sugary carpets.

Looking down as I approach the area called Dunkirk I see two canal boats. One is called Ginny and the houses look like they were built sometime in the 1930s. There is an old painted sign above a house that still declares the premises as a NEWSAGENT. Then comes the train line and more litter in the trees and pathway. Bits of old wet newspaper, broken branches, cigarette ends, weather worn green wood fences, half a sad and retired umbrella dangling from a tree, an upside down Lucozade bottle similarly dangling in bare thorny branches.

I get the, “Someone in a tree!” lyrics 'ear worming' in my head from Sondheim's Pacific Overtures all the way to the University Boulevard.


I was there then.


I am here still.

It's the fragment, not the day.


It's the pebble, not the stream.


It's the ripple, not the sea.

Not the building but the beam,

Not the garden but the stone,

Not the treaty house,

Someone in a tree.'
I wait for a bus to take me the rest of the journey but there isn't one for fifteen minutes. I decide to carry on walking and cross the busy main road to the entrance of the Nottingham University. I photograph some colourful road works sign-age and check the skies for rain clouds. Fortunately, there are none.

In the university park and lake there are the antics of honking geese to enjoy hearing and seeing, and the splash down of ducks landing on the park lake like gentle Lufthansa jets caressing the runway at Munich Airport. (Another story) Half way round the lake an old gent and his son are trying out his remote control fishing boat on the lake and three jogging middle aged Asian ladies say a collective “ Good morning!” to me. I return their good nature.

The walk has now become a hike and the grounds of the university park become a series of steep steps through a pretty wooded area and open out into an expanse of manicured lawns and paths to the main the road. A shallow sheen of rain lays on the main road coming into Beeston. The cars hiss by like annoyed geese. My legs are starting to ache and my back is damp from sweating lightly in my jerkin and overcoat. I have been walking in my steel toe capped work boots for two hours. The High Street is busier than I ever see it on my normal Sunday morning.

The bee man statue is sporting a blue and white woollen hat. I am tempted to go into Caffè Nero for my usual breakfast but press on. I am nearly an hour late for work.

The Tesco store hasn't fallen down in my absence and my colleague Paul has taken the covers off the meat counter for me. I crack on and the day goes by very quickly as I flit from the meat counter to the fish counter to serve customers with sea bass. They are half price at the moment and I have become very adept at trimming the sharp fins off, de-scaling them, gutting and washing them and bagging them up. Occasionally we have to fillet the bleeders too. All for two quid a fish. My team leader Rebecca came in to help today so that helped enormously with the work load and we had a good laugh. I don't think she believed I had actually walked all the way from Ruddington to Beeston.

After my shift I was walking through the stores behind the counters and Gary Linaker tried to run me over with his tractor!


Well, actually I set this silly photo up. I had previously seen the cardboard tractor in the back and the image popped into my head so, being as creative daft as I am, I took my camera in to work and took the photo on a self timer for fun.

I got my usual two buses home. No way was I walking another four miles. I stopped for a beer on the way home and some Walkers crisps.


Karen said...

Goodness me, I feel totally exhausted just reading about your epic journey. Top marks for managing to walk all of the way to work. I'll read about it again tomorrow (got to make sarnies for My Lord & Master now before I loose what little enthusiasm I have for this daily task). Still, I bet you slept well last night after all the exercise

Visit the toilet earlier next time!

Christopher Frost said...

Blimey Phil what a journey you had. You have to think about all that exercise you had and possibly fresh air. My back gets a bit sweaty too when I'm active. It's a real problem sometimes

Jean said...

What a great post and an epic journey.
Plenty of people would have phoned in sick rather than walk four miles!