14 May 2009


The longest journey begins with a rush to get everything done before leaving. Today this included downloading a programme for Hilary to watch on BBC iPlayer before heading for Seattle and the INTA annual meeting.

The taxi driver turned out to be a goldsmith, a skill for which I happen to have a need. I could sit in silence in the back of taxis, and when I was younger I certainly would have done. Now I try my few words of Polish or find someone to repair my cufflinks.

At Reading station, a sign outside the toilets caught my eye. "These toilets are maintained by male/female attendants". That must make recruitment difficult, I thought. Is it a genuine occupational qualification? I was minded to photograph the sign, but decided that cameras and public conveniences probably don't go well together.

Boarding the Railair coach for Heathrow, the ticket inspector requested that I take my (cappuccino) cup with me when I leave at the other end. He was perfectly polite, and even called me "sir", but I was offended - indeed, had to ask him to repeat himself as I had failed to comprehend him at first. My reply - "of course" - was laced with just a little indignation.

In the pocket in front of the seat beside me I found a Red Bull can and a crisp packet. I might remove them too when I go. And, to be fair to the ticket inspector, they were probably abandoned by an outwardly respectable business traveller, probably similar in appearance to me.

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