I am writing this over breakfast at home in Islington but later I am off to Birmingham, hence the photo to set the mood.
Some months ago, Tigger’s company was submitting a tender to a company in Sheffield. Tenders, as you know, have to be delivered anonymously by a certain time on a certain day. You would think that the company tendering would have the document ready in plenty of time to post it to its destination. In the real world, things rarely work so simply. Tigger’s company tends to leave everything to the last minute and still to be working on urgent documents the day they are supposed to be handed in.
That is what happened to the Sheffield tender. How do you deliver a document to the other end of the country on the same day? One way is to send it by motorcycle courier but this is quite expensive. Hearing the fuss, Tigger suggested, half-seriously, half-jokingly, that she could take the tender in person, travelling up by train. They thought about it and then agreed. Since then Tigger has been on several such expeditions and now has a company credit card to pay for rail tickets. Tigger, the company’s Deliverer of Tenders.
If I have nothing else on, I can go with her as this makes a fun day out. The problem, of course, is the cost of rail tickets as last-minute fares can be expensive. We bought our tickets on Friday and I got a return journey to Birmingham for £23. Bargain.
I am not sure yet how the day will pan out, as this depends on when the tender is finished and Tigger can get away. We will probably rendezvous at Euston. With luck there will be time for lunch before the train leaves.
As I was writing this, I was interrupted by the doorbell. It was the painters. They thought they were coming in to decorate our bedroom. No one had told me this, of course, so nothing was ready. I sent them away, having arranged for them to come next week. Someone in the company obviously forgot to make a New Year’s resolution to get organized in 2008. I could feel annoyed and frustrated by yet another cockup but instead I prefer to look forward to our flying visit to Birmingham.
All went according to plan. I successfully rendezvoused with Tigger at Euston. I went by bus but Tigger travelled in style – by cab. (Thinks: can I get a job as a Deliverer of Tenders!?) I had already bought cheese and tomato baguettes for the journey but while waiting for the train we visited the Camden Food Co’s stall and had coffee and some naughty carrot cake.
Boarding the train, we found that the ticket clerk had reserved seats such that we were sitting one behind the other. (He had perpetrated a similar piece of nonsenses for the return journey.) Fortunately, the train was not too crowded and several reserved seats were left vacant so we were able to adopt a more convenient seating arrangement.
On arrival at New Street station, I barely had time to utter the traditional phrase “So this is Birmingham” before Tigger whisked me off to the cab rank and we boarded a taxi to our destination. Here we had to use the Weird Lifts and go to the 11th floor. I call them Weird Lifts only because I have never encountered them before but I expect you more sophisticated types are used to them.
What happens is that you go to the lifts and press a button indicating what floor you want. A sign then informs you which lift to take. This whisks you to your chosen floor. Don’t think of changing your mind along the way: there are no buttons in the lift. Scary.
We could have cabbed it back to the station but decided to walk. We took the wrong branch at a fork but Tigger’s navigational instincts brought us unerringly to the station. While waiting for the train we had coffee and Tigger sensibly had some healthy vegetables with dip, whereas I had more naughty cake. Yum.
Apart from the cockup with the seats, the return journey was without incident. As I write, Tigger is dishing up our supper which has cooked itself in the slow cooker while we were out.
We didn’t see much of Birmingham this time but perhaps we can return there again when the days are longer and the weather more propitious.