Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Sneak into an event

I have been doing a number of things for this blog recently that I have been planned. I have also been working on a number of things that I have written about in previous blog posts like: Learn a Martial Art and Learn a Language. However, the last couple posts - plus this one - have been about more opportunistic events.

Now I'm not the kind of person that always takes advantage of the opportunities that come my way. Often something presents itself and I think and think and think and hesitate and then I either decide against doing it or it simply becomes too late and the opportunity has passed me by.

And the thing is that I don't necessarily condone these opportunistic events. I love street art but I don't support everyone going into the street and vandalising walls outside their ex's flat for example: (Graffiti). Even when it has a great outcome (Graffiti an update). I think that everyone - unless the food is really bad - should pay for their meals:(Leave a restaurant without paying). And of course I'm not condoning and wouldn't want to encourage people into criminal acts like shoplifting: (Shoplifting). I also wouldn't suggest that what happened in Victoria Park (?) a couple of weeks back was acceptable behaviour). But sometimes something happens and if you're pretty sure that your decision might help you but isn't going to negatively effect anyone else, well then on those occasions I would say go for it. Why not? 

So that is why from time to time I will write about opportunistic events like the events of Sunday afternoon. I will be talking about these things because as fun as planned adventures are, the most fun you can have, the times when the adrenaline really starts rushing - not that I'm actually chasing the adrenaline rush - is when you do things that scare you, that make you feel alive. Also it stops the 'what if' scenario which can easily drive you mad.

So let me tell you about Sunday: 
On Sunday it was the Walthamstow Garden Party:

an outdoor music and arts event in Lloyd Park which is at the back of the William Morris Gallery:

If you haven't been to the William Morris Gallery is "the only public museum dedicated to England's best known and most versatile designer". It really is a fascinating place and it has a beautiful garden out the back too. 

Now this blog post was nearly called: get kicked out of somewhere. However, I remembered that once, many moons ago when I still drank, I was asked to leave and was even barred from my local pub over an argument - which grew from a huge misunderstanding and a joke that I was a lawyer - with the new landlord over whether or not you were allowed to dance in said local pub. An argument which somehow ended with me going home with the landlords chef pants haha.

So instead I have named it sneak into an event. Although as you will find out there was absolutely nothing stealth like about my entry into the Walthamstow Garden Party. 

Lloyd Park is just a 5 minute walk from my house and some of my friends had gone - as we had also done last year -  and I had planned to meet them in there after work. Now if you need to know anything about the Walthamstow Garden Party, you need to know that it is a free event. However, by the time I arrived at around 3.10pm on a very warm and sunny Sunday afternoon, the place was so busy that as I approached the front of an enormous but fast moving queue, some moron decided that they had reached capacity and were now operating a one in one out policy. Not that they felt it necessary to inform the several hundred people waiting patiently in the queue.

So I waited for around 10 minutes before deciding that it was completely pointless waiting any longer and that I had two options. I could go home or I could attempt to sneak in. Now normally I would take option one. I would text my friends to say that I couldn't get in and that I would see them soon. However, today I decided, no, I'm not going to do that. Today I'm going to sneak in. Well except as I mentioned earlier, maybe sneak isn't the right word? Sneak would infer some sort of stealth haha.

No there was absolutely nothing sneaky or stealth like about my entrance and I'm not completely sure why decided on the course of action I took? Maybe the act was inspired by the rebel on my t-shirt?

And the action inspired by my lack of criminal activity or military training? (or possibly also by the mercurial Frenchman too?) Whatever the reason, I just though fuck it and ceasing my opportunity - when the two police officers had left and the one security guard that I could see had turned his back - I jumped up on the back of this bicycle attached the the railings and hopped over the fence. 

And this was when I made my crucial mistake. I thought I was in. I thought no one had seen me jump the fence. So I started to walk. I thought: act normal, don't act suspiciously. However, what I probably should have done was run! If I had have ran off into the crowd, there is no way they would have been able to find me. In fact I doubt that they would have even bothered to try. And so even though I took " affirmative action" and attempted to "sneak" in, I still arrived at the what if moment haha.

What happen was that as I was casually walking past the gallery towards the park - whistling like in a black and white film - I heard someone shouting towards me and then a security guard came over and blocked my path. Now if I know anything about security staff, there are only two precursors to the job. You have to be both aggressive and a moron. Now obviously that's a joke - mostly - I know from person experience that some security staff are very nice and very reasonable. Lots of others however are idiots. The ones at the Walthamstow Garden Party were of the idiot variety. Although that said, I suppose they were only trying doing their job - to the strict letter of the "law" with no flexibility - and I was the one in the wrong.

Our interaction went a bit like this:
Security guard one stops me and asks me to leave.
I basically refused.
He goes on about me jumping over the fence and thinking that no one had seen me.
I ask him what the big deal is. That I just want to go and meet my friends. I got a bit bored of waiting etc. 
He tells me that any decent person would have asked if they could come in.
I tell him that it would have been pointless asking because he would have said no (and he completely would have said no and probably taken some joy from the fact too!).
He tells me that that might not have been the case.
So I say: ok, say I would have asked you if I could come in, what would you have said?
To which his answer was: well you'll never know now because you didn't ask you jumped over the fence.
What an absolute prick! I'm sorry, I almost never swear on here but seriously what an arsehole. That has to be one of the most irritating things anyone has ever said to me.
Luckily I didn't react at the time. 

Then long story short(ish) - after doing my best to talk them into letting me stay and failing, including a conversation about whether they are or are not allowed to physically remove me haha. Apparently they can because although it is a public place is was a private event? And another about whether they could actually know whether they were over capacity or not. No way did they click in and out every single person! - I was (non) physically removed from the event. They were pretty reasonable about this though. I thought I would be barred from entry but they told me that I could still come, just in as long as I rejoined the queue.

However, back outside - even though plenty of people had gone out - nobody had gone in. The queue was completely motionless and so queuing up seemed utterly pointless. I therefore decide to go back home, disappointed that I didn't get in but pretty happy that I had at least tried. Because although I don't ever want to be the person who pushes in at the front of queues or keeps the lost phone he finds on the bus etc. At the end of the day, with what I did I had nothing to lose by trying? Plus neither it I upset or disrupt anybody else. Well except for the security guys, but that's their job right? So no I didn't get in but neither would I have done so if I'd stood in the queue watching people coming out but nobody going in.

So slightly defeated but happy I'd tried I head home, a 5 mins walk from the venue, where I lay down and attempted to catch up on some of the sleep I missed over the previous few nights. Unfortunately something I found completely impossible, due to the racket coming from the event I unsuccessfully attempted to "sneak" into.

ps. as I was walking home I had a conversation in my head with the security guy - we all do that right? - after remembering and actually thinking for a moment about what he meant by the comment "any decent person". The cheeky git! Ok yeah I pushed in front of a few people by jumping over a fence into a FREE event but decent person! What exactly does he know about me? He knows nothing about my life or work. He knows nothing about my daily life. Nothing at all about how far I do or don't go out of my way to help other people. Whether I stand up for pregnant or old people on the tube, whether I give to charity or to homeless people on the street. For example. Yes we are judged upon our actions but one action does not determine whether you are a good person or not. We as people and as a society are a little more complicated than that Mr Idiot man :)

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Take my bike on the London Underground

You're not allowed to take a bike on the London Underground... right?

Well in fact you're actually allowed to take your bike on more of the underground than you might be aware of. Here's a map that tells you the different parts of the network that you can and cannot take a bike onto: (https://tfl.gov.uk/cdn/static/cms/documents/bicycle-tube-map.pdf)

However (unsurprisingly) the Victoria line is not one of the sections that you can take your bike on! Not unless you have one of those new fangled, slightly naff - please insert your own more up to date word to replace naff - fold up bikes.

However, sometimes life faces you with a problem, it forces your hand and you have no other choice but to be a rebel with a cause!

This my bike - Black Beauty:

This picture doesn't do her justice. She is the most beautiful bike in London, I promise!

Now I love my bike - that is not in doubt - but I have recently come to the conclusion that buying my bike was simultaneously the best and worst purchase I have ever made.

BEST because...

  • like I said, I love my bike. It is exactly the bike that I wanted. It is the adult version of the Peugeot Racer I had as a 7/8 year old child. It is the style of bike that I watched my hero - one of many - Miguel Indurain ride in Le Tour De France in the early to mid 90's. 
  • I was so excited when I saw her for sale that I just had to buy her, even if I couldn't really afford to. 
  • I "knew" that I would soon make the money back because every time I rode her I would be saving money by not using my Oyster card. 
No she may not be the most practical or comfortable bike in London - just the prettiest - but I love riding my bike to work. Especially on sunny - but not too sunny - days.
  • Riding her gives me great sense of freedom. I love to feel the wind in my hair and the sweat trickling down my back as I race to work pretending to be Miguel Indurain or Bradley Wiggins - another huge hero of mine - as I battle my way to the top of Col Du Tourmalet. 
London is really quite flat but there is one good climb on my cycle to work.

WORST because...
  • well like I said, she's not practical or particularly comfortable to ride. 
  • Riding in London is very dangerous. I stay away from big, busy roads as much as I can but still, we all see the news. 
  • She was overly expensive for what I got - a bike with a list of problems. 
and most importantly because... well let me tell you about the week I've had. (Bike issues that don't even make up 5% of the "bad luck" that I have suffered since buying this bike.)

So a few weeks ago now I got a puncture. Another in a long frustrating line of punctures. At which point I abandoned my bike at work and forgot all about cycling for a while. But then I got paid and the weather started getting better and so I decided that it was finally time that I got around to sorting it out.

So I spend a bunch of money to fix my bike and to also make it generally better, safer, more comfortable.

I buy:
  •  two inner tubes. One to fix the flat and one to carry with me as a spare.
  • new metal tyre irons after I instantly snapped the terrible plastic ones that came with the last puncture repair kit and then spent a year or more using broken ones. 
  • a new puncture repair kit after I practically wasted the whole of the last one attempting to fix a single tyre.
  • a new, much better pump after the last one was lost/stolen.
  • a new rear light after the last one was simply rubbish.

Then a few days ago I go into work early to fix the flat. So I take off the wheel, take off the tyre, take out the inner tube and then, and only then do I realise that I have bought the wrong size replacement inner tube! Which would be annoying anyway but is even more so for the fact that I purposely kept the box of the last one I bought in order to avoid doing this. So did the shop near work sell me the wrong size when I took my bike in last time I got a flat? Has that been a problem in the past because I have had an insane amount of puncture since getting my bike and although some have been easily explained; rode over broken glass etc others I have filed away in a metaphorical folder title the X-Files.

So the next day - anyone who knows me will no that's a lie. I'm definitely not that organised- I send the unused inner tubes back to the famous online cycling store and go to a shop - not the one where I originally received the wrong size tubes - on the way into work and finally get the right inner tube. Now while I'm there they offer me 3 for 2 - which turns out to be a much more important decision than it seemed at the time - but I decide against it as I have a spare coming in the post as an exchange for one of the wrong ones I bought online. I don't need to spend even more money and they're a lot cheaper online so I'll just get the one for now.

So I go to work and finally fix the flat on my dusty old bike and after work I cycle to my tutoring job which is about a 20-30 minute cycle away. And I get there ok - if a little late due to the fact that having thought I knew the way I hadn't taken into account that a lot of the roads I wanted to take we're all one way and not in my favour - I do my job and I cycle home.

Except I don't cycle home. Instead I get around half of the way home and low and behold I get yet another puncture!

And I instantly assume that I must have put the inner tube in incorrectly, except it's not the same tyre! This time it's the rear and previously it was the front wheel. What on earth is going on! It seems that any time that I go over the slightest bump on of my tyres instantly deflates.

So I stop and attempt to pump the tyre back up in the vain hope that this is all it needs. Obviously it doesn't work and so I spend the next 20-30mins attempting to patch the inner tube.

Longer than it probably would have taken me to cycle home. But luckily it's a nice enough evening:

So it takes awhile but I'm not in a big rush to get anywhere, just home to eat and so eventually I do it. I pump it up. It seems ok. And off I head, homeward bound once again. Except of course 2mins down the road and it's flat as a pancake again. That's it there is no more I can do. I could spend another 20-30mims patching another hole - or as it turns out, fixing the first bodged job - but I've run out of patience.

Luckily I'm a short walk from Finsbury Park so I can get home but I have a decision to make. There are three options.

  • Lock my bike up, get the tube home and hope that my bike is still there tomorrow when I will go back to rescue and fix it?
  • Take the bike back home with me. But how? From Finsbury Park I could take a train to Moorgate and then walk from there to Liverpool Street, where I can get another train to Walthamstow. I'm pretty sure I can take my bike on those trains but that would probably take as long as me attempting to walk my bike all the way back home. No I can't be bothered with that!
  • Or I can rebel against the system. Just say fuck it and hope for the best. 
Obviously - or not so obviously because I was definitely really quite nervous, almost as much as when I attempted shoplifting - I went for this option. I took my bike home from Finsbury Park to Walthamstow on the Victoria line. Something I knew I wasn't allowed to do, but at that point I really didn't care.

So I walk my bike down to the platform - unfortunately there are no picture or video evidence, I was too preoccupied - and even though it's off peak, I'm fully expecting to get stopped at any moment. But i don't and after "enjoying" a heart attack inducing 2min wait I finally board the train to Walthamstow. A train no one is getting me off until I reach my destination. Where I walk my bike off the train, up the escalator and through the ticket barrier like there is nothing working with what I am doing. Through the ticket hall and up the 100 or so (probably around 30) steps up into the bus station and then home. Where it now sits with it's flat tyre:

For the foreseeable future. Until I can find out what the issue is because surely at this point it goes past bad luck and bits of glass. I think - I hope not - but I think I might have to splash out on new rims!

And so that's the story of the day I took my bike on the London Underground like a rebel with a cause.

If you're a cyclist, I hope you have better luck with your bike than I do with mine