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1,001 things not to do in London: try and get home

Posted at 3:15 pm, January 27, 2013 in Fun London

© Matt HerringTime Out’s Executive Editor Michael Hodges has been dallying with danger so you don’t have to. This week’s thing not to do in London, No 300 – get home.

You finish work and grab your book from the desk. The journey home isn’t an appealing prospect, but you are looking forward to getting there, pouring a glass of wine and reading the last 30 pages of the book, which is very good. As you leave the building, you hold open the door for a woman coming in who is struggling with a pile of boxes. She smiles and says, ‘Thanks.’ You say, ‘No problem.’ As you walk away, you catch your jacket on the handle and it tears a four-inch rip in the sleeve. You bought the jacket last week.

You go down into the tube. At the ticket barrier you realize you have left your Oyster card on your desk. You go to buy a ticket instead, but all of the machines are either out of order or not taking card payments. You approach one of the two tickets sales windows; a black blind comes down and it closes. So you turn to the other window. At that moment, 42 Italian sixth-form college students arrive, each intent on buying their own individual weekly Travelcards. There follows a lively and occasionally argumentative half-hour. Eventually it is your turn. The man in the window says your ticket will cost £4. You say, ‘Four pounds? I’m only going to Zone 2!’ It still costs £4. You get off at your tube stop and head to the up escalator. It’s a long, high escalator and your mind wanders. You look at an advert for Jack Daniel’s which claims: ‘No one ever built a monument to a committee.’ ‘Really?’ you think. ‘What about “The Burghers of Calais”, the world famous 1889 sculpture by the French genius Auguste Rodin?’ Just then a man in a suit who is hurtling up the escalator barges past and you let go of your new book, which goes spinning down the metal slope behind the handrail towards the bottom. You try to catch it but succeed only in losing your balance. You should let the up escalator take you to the top and then take the down escalator back to where your book is now lying among hundreds of moving feet. But you panic, and try to work your way back down the up escalator. This makes you very unpopular with many of the people behind you who are trying to get up the up escalator. Some of them start to push and swear at you, stopping you from going any further and so you do go up the up escalator. At the top you escape from the people who have been pushing and swearing at you and get on to the down escalator. At the bottom you find your book has been kicked around quite badly but is mostly intact. Apart from, that is, the last 30 pages.

You come out of the tube and walk to the minimarket. You put a pint of milk in your basket. You calculate that you can also afford one bottle of red wine and one bar of dark chocolate. You go to the counter. The girl behind the till looks at you strangely. You’re aware that the struggle on the escalator has left you stragglehaired and desperate, but she is looking at your groin. You do the same and find that it is splattered with white fluid. Either the top of the container has not been correctly attached or it has been pierced. Whichever it is, you are covered in milk.

‘Still,’ you think, as you walk the remaining hundred yards to your home, ‘I have the wine and the chocolate.’ You arrive at your front door and put the plastic bag on the wall while you look for your house keys. The plastic bag falls off the wall. There is a sharp bang when it hits the ground. This, you know, is the sound of a bottle of red wine exploding. It is now you realise that you’ve left your keys with your Oyster card.

Also not recommended More ill-fated journeys

BED TO KITCHEN: Unavoidable once you realize that, no matter how hard you try, it is not possible to fill and switch on an electric kettle by the power of thought alone.

LIFT TO DESK: aka ‘The walk of shame’: The Monday morning stroll through the entire office following the previous Friday night’s ‘just a quick one after work’.

BAR TO DOOR: You absolutely promised that you would be home for 9pm. You know if you don’t leave right now you won’t make it. And yet you look down to see that your feet are staying exactly where they are and, if you’re not mistaken, that’s your own voice ordering another drink.

BED TO TOILET: No, that isn’t ‘just a little bit of wee that can wait until morning’. It’s a full bladder and you’re going to have to get up to empty it – unless you’re a very good shot.

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