The moment I left her behind

It was a gorgeous sunny morning at Hither Green station this morning. They’re always best, especially on Monday mornings. Sunshine+Monday mornings get the week off to a good start.

I only realised I had left the credit card I normally use at home when I tried to use the automated ticket machine. I tried and failed to use a different one the lady standing behind me voiced her impatience.

There were a good five minutes before the train both of us were intending on catching actually arrived but when I failed with my alternative credit card it was clear the lady was concerned she wasn’t going to make what was she obviously considered was her own personal train to London.

“Can I please get my ticket,” she barked, “My train is going to arrive soon.”

Pick your battles Jon, I thought to myself. It’s Monday morning and the sun is out.

Standing aside, I watched the lady dressed in her safe black city suit with contrasting white pumps negotiate the ticket machine. I listened as she huffed and puffed, navigating her way around the intuitive yet clearly challenging touch-screen display.

She glanced up at me momentarily when she finally grabbed her tickets seeing, no doubt, a charming young man in his mid-thirties being all grown up and calm, his hands on his hips, his lips pursed bedecked in black shut-out-the-world shades.

A minute later, my seven day season ticket in my back pocket, I descended the step to the station platform gleefully aware that the lady who had insisted on upgrading her position in the ticket purchasing queue was now watching in horror as I approached her. I smiled a long, charming smile and slowed my pace down considerably. There was still time, I thought to myself. Our train to London wasn’t even on the horizon yet.

A guilty look spread across her face like oil on water. Tempting though it was, I resisted the temptation to say anything out loud.

Mind you, no reason not to say anything here along the lines of … Thoroughly Good things really do come to those who wait. *

* Even a short while.

iPlayer tip # 3 : Mountain

Griff Rhys Jones makes a bid for Michael Palin style stardom in a series which combines some geological study, moutain climbing and some human interest stories in and around some of Great Britain’s more inhospitable areas.

It was a real joy to watch. Real Sunday night fayre with some surprising revelations and reminders, not least the fact that there are plenty of areas in Great Britain where there isn’t a 24 hour shop, cash machine or a mobile phone signal. Very humbling indeed.

Nothing too taxing and there’s a real sting in the tale concerning a the Cuillin mountain range in Scotland which is up for sale for a mere £19.2 million. Simon and I not putting in an offer, so feel free to jump the queue.

Mountain (Sunday 29 July 2007, Evening, BBC1)

iPlayer tip: # 2 Prom 2 – Film Prom

Having successfully downloaded the one thing I spectacularly missed to see on TV last night (it’s a rare thing I genuinely want to watch something on TV), I was delighted to see I could catch-up via the iPlayer.

If you’ve got a login (I’m told it won’t be long before everyone who’s signed up for it will actually get their access, but if you haven’t signed up yet for god’s sake do by going here) then be sure you download “Film Prom – Prom 2”. It’s the Prom featuring the medley of music from the Carry On films. Perfect!

To guarantee finding it, login in to the site, click on “Categories”, select “Music” and select the first “Proms” icon.

Rope and Pulley

Even Proms fans need a weekend off from time to time. And this weekend was one of them for Simon and I.

We ventured north of the Thames yesterday afternoon destined for Coronet Street in Hackney. It was a strange journey, one which jolted both of us into remembering the place we first met each other (at Limehouse on the Commerical Road) and the home of the then mutual acquaintance who got us together in the first place.

It also saw us driving through a strange area of London which skirts the edge of the City. Shoreditch, Old Street, Spitalfields and Hoxton are all areas which ooze a mixture of youthful excitement set against a dowdy London backdrop alongside some of the grimiest examples of so-called living the capital has to offer. The question “How does this kind degradation actually happen?” often came up in the car as we sped towards our destination.

The destination was Circus Space in Hackney, the home of what appears to be a circus and acrobatics school in a converted power station. The exterior is unassuming, the interior breathtaking. So too the skills of those amateur acrobats who were displaying their obvious talents to the assembled audience of friends, family and acquaintances.

There was without doubt, a laid back atmosphere in the converted combustion chamber. Ropes and pulleys hung down from wrought iron girders. Experienced amateurs and petrified audience alike sat cross-legged on the mats and floor staring up at a myriad of ropes and pullies hanging from chunky wrought iron girders.

One by one, each performer stepped forward and clambered to their starting position on the paraphenalia above them. Keen looking assistants crouched down in the background hanging on to ropes, ready to leap into action should events demand so. Music started, muscles flexed and within minutes of watching our first acrobat of the afternoon both Simon and I suddenly began to focus in awe at the amazing strength of the acrobats who performed in front of us.

The last acrobatics we saw was Cirque de Soleil’s La Nouba at Disney Boardwalk, Florida. The Amateur Acrobatics day at Circus Space 2007 was something infinitely more intimate and, given I had the unusual opportunity to witness a colleague from work demonstrate her own acrobatic skills, perhaps even more satisfying to watch.

There is something really quite humbling watching people manipulate their bodies into all sorts of different positions ten feet above the ground and, what I’m finding difficult to understand as to why, also quite relaxing to watch too.