Dorward's Ramblings

Life goes on despite interruptions

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Today terrorists have stuck London. You will, by now, have heard all the details from elsewhere (Matt has a nice take on the subject), so I won't recount them again. Let me just add my voice to all those others and say that the victims have my sympathy and that I'm very proud of the way my country has been dealing with it.

I had taken the day off thanks to a wonderful screw up from Tesco. My old Renault has been getting on a bit (its has a petrol engine and 125,000 miles on the clock), was coming up to its MOT, and needed replacement.

I found a nice looking Rover on Saturday, it seduced my with its leather upholstery and general shineyness. Unfortunately a second look revealed a large quantity of oil and gunk floating around the coolant system, which rather put the clappers on the idea of buying it.

So it was back to the drawing board. Some more hunting turned up a couple of promising leads and I gave the deal a ring, he promptly started listing a bunch of great sounding vehicles which would be arriving the next day. I held off and went to have a look on my way home from work.

This turned out to be a wise choice, one of the cars was near perfect and I walked away the proud owner of a nice little Peugeot 205 with a diesel engine, and got a nice discount by trading in the Renault for far more then it was worth. I just needed insurance and tax and then I could drive her away.

Sorting out the insurance was easy enough, or so I thought. I rang Tesco, told them I'd bought a new car, and gave them the details. Then I asked them to send the paperwork to my office. I leave the flat before the postman arrives, so getting the paperwork at the office would let me drop by the dealer on my way home.

Wednesday morning came and the paperwork duly arrived. Then I looked at it. Commences: 06/07/05 17:00 hours. OK, good so far. Expires: 06/07/05 noon. Uh Oh.

So I had insurance that was valid for a grand total of minus five hours. I rang Tesco again, and they agreed to send out replacement documents and a covering fax explaining the situation.

Lunchtime came and I trundled down to the post office, which wouldn't accept the certificate even with the fax. I hate bureaucracy.

So mid-afternoon I get struck by a thought and promptly ring up Tesco once more. Naturally they had posted the replacement replacement documentation to the default address on my account, and not to my office. Oh joy. "Anthony? Do you mind if I take one of my days of holiday tomorrow?"

And so it was that I was still at home when I heard about the explosions in London. At first the news was suggesting that something major had gone wrong with the power system, but it wasn't long before it was clear that the explosions were deliberate.

Then came the news that Swindon railway station had been closed. I ummed and erred for a few minutes before deciding that sitting around at home would drive me stir crazy and I was damned if I was going to let a bunch of extremists muck up my life (Tesco isn't a bunch of extremists, if they were they probably wouldn't have made such a stupid mistake.).

On to the bus I hopped and I arrived at the town centre shortly after. I took the usual route under Flemming Way, up The Parade and along Regent Street towards the post office. Then I saw a bunch of police and rent-a-cops from various shops running around setting up stripy tape and evacuating the area. It was another bomb scare, this time at Lloyd's Bank.

The Post Office was a couple of streets over, so it was safe from evacuation and I managed to fork out the 90+ for 6 months road tax. That is the downside of diesel cars - they have a low horsepower for the engine size, but tax is based on engine size and not horsepower. So my car might only be marginally nippier then the Renault it replaces, but it has a 1.8 liter engine.

When I came out of the Post Office the area being evacuated was starting to spread. Being unable to walk down Regent Street I headed for the Brunel Centre (which runs along Regent Street). My bank was on the other side and I wanted to pay a cheque in (it seems I managed to overpay my soliciter when I was buying this flat and they'd issued a refund).

Unfortunately, no sooner had I walked in then I was asked to leave - they were being evacuated too.

I ended up taking the long way around to get back to the bus station (the direct route was blocked by vast swathes of red and white tape).

After a spot of lunch I drove up to Faringdon to exchange cars. This was amazingly quick and ten minutes later I was on my way home again - and trying to get used to the way the new car handled. This took some time since I'd only ever driven three cars before:

  1. My driving instructor's (not since I learned to drive)
  2. My Renault
  3. My Dad's old Peugeot 405 (twice … and it has a turbo charger and power steering)

… but I was reasonably comfortable with it by the time I got home. Its wonderful having an ariel again, I don't have to switch radio stations 10 minutes outside Swindon now.

I'm actually writing this entry a few days after the data at the top, so I have the advantage of being about to find out exactly what was going on in town. Thankfully, both alerts turned out to be false alarms, turning out to be birthday presents and sweets!

Swindon's alerts may have turned out to be false alarms, but London wasn't so lucky. The explosions show off some of the very worst aspects of the human race, but they have also brought out some of the very best. A couple of examples from Radio 2: A nurse, in London to visit her father, abandoned her plans in order to help out at the nearest hospital, and a 92 year old lady who drove ambulances during The Second World War, marched down to her nearest hospital and started applying bandages where they were needed. The way people have come together in the face of adversity really bolsters my faith in humanity. To these heroes and all others — thank-you.