Saturday, 9 October 2010
October 9th Presentations, Presidents and Lighthouses
So despite cobbling my presentation together on the train and not having a proper run through beforehand it went rather well. No one nodded off and I even got some laughs (and at the right places!) and had a few people come up and say well done afterwards which was very nice of them.
Then I had a crazy cycle back from London Bridge to the hostel. Before I was out of the station proper a taxi driver tried to kill me, and then shouted at me for it. I backed down and got out of his way (before he barged me out of it) and shouted ‘Oh I’ll be back in the UK then, welcome home’ after him. Even though I was up against the clock I stopped to take a series of photos of cyclists (and cars and buses and f**cking taxis and motorbikes) leaving the lights at the bottom of the bridge. It was pure chaos. The bikes were mostly at the front with a couple of motorbikes and everything else up against their back wheels like a great wall of metal death and when then pulled away I was amazed that no one died in the rush to barge past and overtake the cyclists. I know I know that they do it every day but you can’t just put a blue line on a map and call it a ‘cycling superhighway’ – you have to put the blue line on the actual physical ROAD as well.
As always in London, I spend more time pushing my bike than riding it but from St Pauls to Trinity House I do ride, with my camera phone in my pocket so I can take pics of everyone who tries to kill me.
Trinity house, where the presidents dinner is, is very posh but they are not at all sniffy about the newbike and happily let me chain it inside their railings. Inside is all sweeping staircases and chandeliers, a string quartet, huge paintings of famous royal types and ships - of course. It is the headquarters of the lighthouse association and we are treated to a potted history of the organisation and the building by a great speaker who tells it like he’s sharing gossip from last night about close friends as he namedrops monarchs and politicians, many long dead. Dinner is delicious, the wine is free and my dinner date is driving not drinking so I get to have his as well and by the time I have to get up to be given my award I’m on the port and brandy and look frankly wasted - on my photos at least. There is a professional photographer there who gets me to pose next to a ships bell with my certificate – I dread to think how badly they will come out.
At least by the time we leave the streets are empty. St Paul’s Youth Hostel don’t have a bikepark but they let me bring it inside. I’m woken by the bells and reminded of a hungover Katface in Copenhagen shouting ‘I don’t believe in your god, shut up and let me sleep’. But I quite like it, I have a lovely view and the breakfast is ace.