London for a meeting. Commuter hell.

Well there are two ways of explaining today, each essentially the same. One I'll call the LinkedIn way, the other the truth. You see I have a bit of a downer on LinkdIn. How people describe themselves on that site quite often has nothing to do with real life....

The LinkedIn way:

I was called with some urgency to an early morning meeting with Dr Vince Cable, the Secretary of State. The exclusive meeting was to be held next door to Buckingham Palace and concerned matters of some importance where my I.P. skill set was needed. It was a constructive meeting and between us we have a plan to move National I.P. issues forward.

To my mates' down the pub.

Nobody else at work wanted to go, so it was left to me to hold the fort. Had to go up to London for 08:30, which cost me £20. Ended up in the Royal Society in a large room with another sixty people. Dr Cable gave us a talk on intellectual property, something I know very little about. Nothing I do will have any impact on I.P issues. Bit pointless really.

So there you have it, two versions of the same event. Anyway, even if I didn't get much out of it personally the trip up was interesting in a few ways. The first was getting on the train. Now I have caught trains to London before so am aware of how commuters stand in particular spots, just opposite of where they think the train doors will be when it arrives. However this morning it seemed to me that there was an underlying tenseness, a sense of pointless possessiveness and aggressive taking of space. There were very few people on the platform when I got there, so loads of space. Yet these little groups formed of strangers standing in very tight formations. You'd have a couple chatting away and somebody would come and stand within their space, touching in some instances. One woman literally placed herself between two men, yet she had nothing to do with them. It was all so odd I took this photograph; none of the little groups seemed to be formed of people that knew each other, they were just occupying little bits of platform. How do people put up with this every day? I'd imagined it was to get the best seats, but half of these people stood in the doorways once on the train. Just look how close complete strangers are standing next to each other. Is it me or is this a bit odd?

The other thing was that how wonderful London is when you're not working there. I got into town at 7am for a 9am meeting so had plenty of time to kill. Had a bit of a stroll around and the sense of being in a place where something is happening is profound. I've lived and worked in London for over twenty years now, but my drive into work takes me all the back roads to Lambeth - tend to miss the very heart for months at a time. So it can be quite refreshing to view it anew and to see rather massive buildings pop up as if from nowhere.

And Vince? What did I think of him? Actually he was rather impressive, as he should be really. I was right next to him as he gave his talk and answered questions. He didn't field them as expected, with evasiveness or refusals, but answered with a degree of honesty. I've met politicians before and they're generally a squirrelly bunch who never actually answer anything, yet here he was being open, funny and honest. He was also right on top of things, even topics outside of his remit. I also got the distinct impression that you don't mess with him.