Got into work yesterday, and because it was a Sunday, I had a couple of different routes I didn’t know, which was not ideal in the snow, but hey ho.
It took me longer than usual, but I was sort of on schedule when halfway up an unadopted road, the car battery died. The AA guy came within the hour, for which I was grateful. I had to buy a new battery that set me back, but he put it on tick to settle up when I get paid. The AA man was an absolute hero; patient, kind, and practical as they all are always, and he got me back on the road, but by then, it was getting late. I could only drop a few more parcels before it was too dark and cold, and I was due at The Hempist for my evening vegan fast food delivery job.
The Hermes FM was brilliant and understanding when I said I’d have to finish the deliveries the next morning.
It was a quiet night for food deliveries, and although I would have liked to have taken more orders, I was relieved when we closed at 8pm.
I got up early this morning to finish the previous day’s deliveries, but the doors were all frozen shut when I got to the car. I managed to open the hatchback (it’s a 3 door fiesta), and I had to clamber over the parcels, over the backseat, and into the driver’s seat and got the doors open. I’m not built for that sort of athletic activity anymore, and it was a painful and undignified process like an old bull walrus dragging himself over the boulders.
I did the deliveries, but I managed to step on my glasses and break my phone charger in the process.
It was midday when I finally got back to the depot to sort, receipt, and scan in today’s parcels. I delivered the first lot on Battle Road. Still, I was cold and wet and hungry I needed a piss, and my phone was low, so I went to Asda to go to the loo, buy a new phone charger, shoplift a bit of scran and get warmed up and dry.
When I plugged in the new charger to charge up the phone, it wasn’t taking any charge. The Hermes app that you have to use to receipt, sort, scan, and photograph deliveries takes a fair bit of juice. So you have to keep your phone on a power bank charger all the time; otherwise, it dies, and you can’t do your job.
So I drove back home to get my spare specs and charge the phone up. Even at home, it took charge very slowly, and with the delivery app not keeping up with what’s going out.
Anyway, I actually had a half-hour power nap. It charged, then I headed back out to Hollington and finished the route with 6% left on the phone by the time I had to upload the completed data.
Then it was time to go to The Hempist to deliver fine vegan fast food to Hastings and St Leonards’ good people. It’s always a pleasure to get there and chat with my friends and colleagues Dan, Jackie, Rosie, and Eddie and zip around town with my car smelling so wonderfully of tasty food and meeting our customers.
When I finally got home, I was pleased to see Elizabeth. She had come back from her first day at her new job in a factory on an engineering assembly line. In a happy spirit, she told me how she’d enjoyed it, met some great people there, and worked hard doing precise work.
Course she’s gone to bed for another early start at the factory, which is why I’m telling you.
Better sort the phone out tomorrow.
Between 2000 and 2003, I worked in some kind of property development for a housing association out of an office just south of Kensington High Street.
When I started that job, Elizabeth and I lived in a small basement flat in Finsbury Park. The twins were babies, so we moved to a New Barnet house for more space, but it wasn’t a good move. We’d both lived around Wood Green, Finsbury Park, Manor House, Hornsey, Harringay for most of our adult lives. Even though East Barnet was only a few stops up the railway line, we missed our friends and felt isolated.
When you’ve got little kids, location is essential.
Plus, I commuted and got up very early and got home very late. I was tired and doing a job I wasn’t used to and wasn’t especially suited to. It required attention to detail and a bit of cynicism. In contrast, I was used to being a care home manager where you multi-task and engage with people. You have to be very positive and optimistic.
Having said that, I was quite pleased to have the opportunity to not be a care home manager anymore. Released from the drab day-to-day domestic responsibility of care home management. To be able to wear a suit and be a bit flash and work in a head office in Kensington and use skills I hadn’t used for years and be involved in construction and design and development.
The World Trade Center attack happened shortly after I started there and then the London Underground attack. So getting around on the Underground took ages. Sorry if that sounds callous, but it’s how it affected me. I would get stuck at Edgware Road station for hours and wouldn’t get home till late, and Lizz had to put the kids to bed on her own, and we were both tired and stressed by the time we saw one another. It wasn’t right for any of us.
I found it was quicker to walk down Gloucester Road station and get the train from there. On the way to the station, I’d usually phone home for a chat and ask if there was anything I need to buy. There usually was, so I’d pop into Gloucester Road Waitrose before I got on the underground. While I was there, I would go to the wine department and buy the cheapest bottle of red wine that wasn’t totally horrible. Their off-license department was run like an independent wine merchant. You’d take your bottle to the wine section till and it would be wrapped in that light brown tissue paper, and you’d pay there. It was run by this man, a big colourful character as if it was his own vintners. He was a very large fellow with one of those preposterously huge round bellies busting out of his striped shirt and tie. He always had this little stand with wine bottles open that you could sample in small glasses. It was like a wine pulpit. He would have a couple of his friends there as though it was a bar, hanging out, chatting, tasting the samples of wine and some bits of cheese and olives on plastic plates as well. They were Earls Court street drinkers but of a good class, polite, agreeable and not properly falling over or noticeably incontinent. Before I could buy my bottle of cheap wine, he would invite me to sample a glass of better stuff, he’d introduce me to his pals. We’d get talking and have a bit of cheese and an olive or two, then he’d sell me a bottle of the better wine at the same price as the cheap shit. A couple of times, he even refused my money, wrapped the bottle up in the tissue paper, and gave it to me. We’d part the best of friends, and I would totter off and spend the next few hours standing up on the tube clutching a bag of cat food, toilet rolls, milk, and the wine till I got to the outer north London suburbs and home.
I can’t remember why I found this job so difficult last week. Walking the streets of Silverhill delivering parcels in the sunshine. Lovely. It took me half the time today, so I still had time to wander into town and chat with old friends on Queens Road and buy my fruit and veg from Mustapha’s.
The sun seems to be going down, so it must be time for a glass of wine before I cook dinner.