Saturday 12 August 2017

#217 Reading and writing

The tube rocked and rattled its way along the Jubilee line this morning as I clenched my copy of City AM and tried to assess whether any of my fellow passengers looked as though they might oppose my reading it on such a busy carriage.

I don't think I've ever been on a journey that was so rammed that I've not been able to digest an article or two. It sometimes required an advanced and nifty fold of the paper into a position that displayed only the bare minimum of the story in question but there was always a way to nudge it into view, no matter which briefcase was assaulting my knee or whose hair was dusting my shoulderblades.

I considered it unlikely that there'd be any news of relevance to my meeting. Gone were the days of tracking which insurer had bought which portfolio and transferred it to Malta. I was on my way to visit a publishing recruiter.

The fact that a consultant had even agreed to meet with me seemed a positive development. While the job boards bristled with accountancy, marketing and IT vacancies, writing and editorial positions were as rare as white taxis and as intensely fought-for as the same on a Friday night. 

I'd had a quick scour through the recruiter's website earlier that morning and had come away muttering about the scarcity of opportunities, as well has how Uber had well and truly ruined the white taxi expression. At least, they would have if I hadn't just made it up.

My new contact was incredibly warm and not at all smarmy, a quality that seemed to infect some professionals across many sectors of the city. Some outgrow most of the smarminess and morph into more palatable communicators but they never lose it entirely. Throw a few pints down their gullets or catch them with their cronies and you'll see it return quicker than a dismissed pigeon.

We each ran through our rehearsed lines. I discussed what I would be looking for and checked carefully for a reaction that suggested I was bonkers. I then asked if she thought I was, just to make sure. Her responses were promising though and I bounded out into the sunshine afterward in improved spirits.

Feeling hopeful that my CV might be filed under "spiffing new candidates" rather than being made into a paper mache sculpture for the foyer, I decided that the appointment had gone well and hopped back onto the tube for the journey home.

Reaching into my bag, I pulled out the now slightly crumpled City AM and in between grabs of the handrail, flicked around until I'd found the column I'd got up to. I might not have been writing the news yet but I sure as heck was going to finish reading it.


Fizzfan said...

Most interested I've ever been in someone going to an interview. Top notch writing Dan.
All sorts of lovely triggers. Dusting of hair, dismissed pigeons, spiffing new candidate.....loved it all.
Really really rooting for you.

Profound Familiarity said...

Thanks Fizzfan. How's life in... Norwich, is it?

Fizzfan said...

Norwich is always lovely. Life.....? Hmmmm, well you know how that is. Complicated, up n down, swings n roundabouts but pretty amazing, alrightish.
Do you like London?

Running on empty said...

Hope it pans out!

Why do they transfer portfolios to Malta?

Profound Familiarity said...

Have you been out to Sheringham?

I do like London. I've been here 7 years and am still finding new parts of it.

Profound Familiarity said...

Nice climate... pleasant people... massive tax advantages...

Running on empty said...

Hmm. Is Britain chasing up taxes overseas in havens, like the tax dpt is here?

Profound Familiarity said...

no idea

Fizzfan said...

Sheringham? Last time I went there was last summer to The Dales Country hotel for Sunday lunch with friends. It was very nice. Lovely warm day, sat around all afternoon drinking in the gardens which have very comfy sofas n chairs n parasols.
One of the friends I went with lived in London for some time. She loved it.
I'm coming down to London next summer with some friends for 3 days. (We got tickets to see Ed Sheeran) Are there any hotspots you can recommend?

Profound Familiarity said...

If the weather's nice, I'd recommend heading to Hampstead Heath for the view. If you like roast dinners, the Mayflower at Rotherhithe serves up some delicious nosh and is one of the oldest watering holes in the city. For fish n' chips, it's difficult to beat Fish Central near Old Street. Their generously proportioned hand-cut potatoes and fluffy white hunks of cod present a true dilemma over which to reach for with every mouthful.

Following tourists along the south bank and trekking up the Monument is a perfectly adequate way to spend an afternoon and is unlikely to disappoint. If you're yearning to get off the beaten track, you could try navigating your way to Little Venice, a feat in itself. From there, it's possible to walk alongside Regent's Canal all the way to Camden. The waterway happens to run through one of the quieter areas of London Zoo. Some days, you might see nothing. Other days, you might spot a warthog or even a giraffe.

Walking through Peckham is a lot like visiting a foreign country. The streets are lined with fish markets, plantains, yams and a dozen hair salons teaming with black mothers and children. There are just as many second hand phone shops. I can't imagine that many outsiders would brave the walk up the dodgy looking multistory car park to Frank's Cafe but those who make the journey are rewarded with a surprisingly amicable bar against a jaw-dropping skyline.

One of my favourite pubs is the Nell Gwynne. Like the Mayflower, it's like a powerful antidote to the new shiny bars, which all look the same and have no character. Stuffed down a pokey little alley off The Strand, a weary explorer could easily hide away there for an hour or two, remembering what it's like to drink in a proper boozer, which smells of old sofas and is named after a bewitching seventeenth century whore.

I've never really thought about this before but it occurs to me that it would be entirely possible to cover a quarter or a half of the fabled Monopoly Board Pub crawl quite comfortably within an afternoon or an evening without getting too sloshed. The secret to completing the crawl in its entirety is to consume no more than half a pint of beer, or some other small measure at each premises but one could easily enjoy a fraction of the endeavour with fully sized drinks and tick off say, The Strand, Fleet Street and Trafalgar, or any similar set of properties within a couple of hours.

I shall stop here for fear of writing a blog post in the comments section but if you have any specific questions, feel free to articulate them.

Fizzfan said...

Cheers Dan, very much appreciated!
We're rather keen on eating and drinking so this will be very useful indeed, especially as they sound off the beaten track and untouristy.
Tried to copy paste but to no avail. I see I'll have much googling and mapping to do.

Running on empty said...

Copied and sent to your email, hon.

Fizzfan said...

Awesome! Thank you. We're staying in Convent Garden so the Nell Gwynne is a must. Looks fab.
Like the look of Little Venice too.....and that Fish place.....mind you we're intending on having a meal at the Ivy and afternoon tea at The Ritz too so might have to buy some elastic trousers :) Probably have to frock up for Ritzy's tho :(