Piccadilly Circus in the freezing slush

So the coffee house walk is going okay.  Children have stopped avoiding me in the street so the bleeding must have stopped.  Now all I have is a frozen nose and sniffle – a natural hazard of being alive this time of year.

I’m now consuming a sort of ‘Christmas sandwich’ at a chain coffee shop. Now I appreciate the seat, like the cleanliness, and need the power plug to keep my laptop alive but the sandwich is just so-so.  Full of walnuts or something it has turkey and cranberry sauce with some lettuce.  Christmas what????

So what does ‘Christmas’ mean?  Other than the religious and commercial cash-in, is this worthwhile?  Banksy just unveiled a statue of a pixelated priest to remind us of the true meaning of Christianity – lies, corruption and abuse apparently.  No-one I pass seems especially happy right now although the music makes us jive while we fight for the toilet cubicles (I’m perched right outside the door to one in this restaurant). No-one smiles but that could just be the weather!

My walk has taken me from the gutter areas south of the river today back past the altars of commerce and into the richest shops in London.  Along the way I have past the beggars and street vendors, ogled the wonderful Bentleys and Mercs and Beemers, seen the Big Issue sellers and brushed past the tourists.  It is no wonder that Monopoly’s top estate is Pall Mall because that was the road I just walked up.  Rudeness and wealth are juxtaposition and the rule of life seems to be just feral.  Hustle, grift, work and we’ll let you live another year.  Christmas be damned, it seems.  TS Eliot, where are  you?

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Sometimes my job is hard; customers who don’t want to talk to you, long journeys with many changes of train (or plane, airport, taxi – I’ve done all of them), staying away from home overnight in lonely hotels, long times on planes without much to do except read or watch movies.  Lots of disconnectedness without seeing colleagues from your own team very much: we often would see each other overseas more frequently than we would in our home country!

Sometimes my job is easy.  Long train trips looking out the windows, many interesting forms of transport filled with people all going places, getting loyalty points for hotel stays which you can then spend on family holidays, lots of time to read books (or blog).  But it does make you wonder if elsewhere there could be a better life…

Walking down the street from the last place I passed lots of market traders looking very bedraggled in the rain.  It was cold, it was raining, and there wasn’t any shoppers in sight.  So close to Christmas you’d think that people would brave the cold just to get some things but as most Londoners know this can last a while and on a good day may end in snow … which then turns into slush and mire splashed everywhere and doesn’t actually improve things like it does elsewhere!  I thought about those men and women who’d set up their stalls in the cold morning before light, waited and waited then had to pack away perhaps without a single sale.  I should be so lucky.  Maybe what I do isn’t so bad after all?

Now to drink the espresso, eat the almond croissant, and read a bit after checking the work emails.