Where there's a Willesden there's a way

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Nothing left to give!

I'm in a workshop on Adult Protection issues, which happens to be a pet subject of mine. I'm getting a reputation in Greenborough as being a bit of a policy geek. Which is just as well as I've been sent to this conference as the sole representative of my team straight after a sleep-in shift. It's made even harder when the workshop facilitator tells me I'm the only support worker in attendance, and everyone else there is at least as senior as my boss's boss's boss.

Still, I seem to be in the Greenborough Zone, as I'm doing most of the talking. And the senior people are all nodding in what I hope is impressed agreement. Because I'd like them to give fairly good feedback to my boss's boss about what a great team we are. And a new job in a different team wouldn't be bad either.

The Greenborough Zone is when I've been at work for *so* long I start forgetting what my flat looks like and give up on actually going home. For a while this is good (between 24-28 hours after leaving home), and then it's followed by the Greenborough Madness. Fortunately and unfortunately, Angella is joining me for the evening entertainment, so I won't be going to it alone. Neither will I be able to leave until at least 10pm, which is coming up to 34 hours after I left home. And I know I'll be cuckoo by this stage. I explain my dilemma to Angella, who lights up another fag and says "It sounds wonderful". I could use some of her enthusiasm at this point.

Sure enough, round 10pm I take money out of an extortionate cashpoint and drag Angella into a nearby club for that one or two rounds of drinks too many. And by 11.30 it's pretty apparent we're not going to get much past Earls Court.

According to my phone logs I called TfL information 3 times between 12.30 and 1.15am. I remember that, as we were in the middle of a pretty hefty storm, and my umbrella wasn't providing much protection. I'm starting to feel quite silly, as it's not like me to get lost in West London. However, Angella's still happy as ever, lighting a fag in the rain and saying "Look at that school over there, how wonderful!"

In the street in front of us there's a soaking man in a bodywarmer having a row with two passers-by. They hurry into a side street, and the man in the bodywarmer turns his ire to a sign saying wet paint. Unfortunately he then turns his attention to me, and heads a little too close to Angella. I'm just prepared to pull her out of the way when he suddenly runs into moving traffic. With a screech of breaks me and Angella head down the road in the pouring rain.

"That poor man", she says, lighting another fag. "What a wonderful storm though". Me and her see things differently.

Unfortunately the road we headed down has taken us even further from the bus stop we still can't find, and it's not even marked on the map. In fact, the only way I can think of to get home from here is to get a nightbus from Tyburn. Angella sits down, decides against another cigarette and announces "I'm fucking tired."

It's a bad sign when even her boundless enthusiasm runs short, and I sight the man in the body warmer heading towards us again. With a scarily smooth and decisive move I hail a cab, drag Angella into it and we head towards Marble Arch. "I got us lost, so I'm paying for it, OK?" I can only afford to be this principled on pay day. Obviously it's a scary £12, so I pay the taxi driver and ask him to never mention this again. And five minutes later we're on a bus back to Willesden.

At 2.30am, at least 38 hours since I last went home, I finally turn into Meteor Street, and run straight into my flatmates, one of whom is pulling up her jeans. I decide not to ask, and try to act casual. And obviously at this moment I slip on a wet leaf and fall flat on my back.

Yep, it's the Greenborough Madness. After this long spent doing work stuff, it's almost hard to conceive of doing anything else. During a very dull keynote speech at the conference, I worked out that I clocked up 49 hours this week, not counting the 3 sleep-ins (including a Sunday night) and the evening entertainment at the conference.

What I'm trying to say is "Would anyone mind if I stayed in bed today?"


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