Started today on a bad note. Been feeling a bit sick the last couple of days and today was no different.
At work I've been working on the newspaper, editing the pages and organising the layout. It's all good fun. I could do this for a living! Though come lunchtime things were just starting to get a bit manic....
I was silly enough to wear heels today forgetting that I'd be working in the Cathedral, covering an event for a press release. At first I thought it'd be fine to just tiptoe around but the click of a heel in the silence of prayer and reverence is deafening. Not to mention the fact that one would most likely take a few slips and end up looking like a drunk ice-skater. So anyway, I thought it would be a good idea to go home and change my shoes. For some reason I had it in my head that Vespers didn't start till 15:30. The Westminster Cathedral site said 17:00 and the diary 15:00. I was confused. But I was really set on changing my shoes. So I set off around 13:30. I was cutting it fine.
Naturally the traffic was horrendous. I got halfway and realised that there's no way I would make it and get back in time. So I had a rushed lunch and travelled back to the office but the traffic was bad on that side of the road too *sigh* Arrived at 15:15. I was either 15 mins late or 15 mins early. Popped into the Cathedral to see that it had already started. Fudge. Ran to the office (in heels - I can barely walk in them) to be told that my boss was already in the Cathedral. Rushed back and started to tiptoe around (creepy-child-catcher-from-Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang style). I couldn't see him anywhere. Sitting in the front row? No. Was he on the sanctuary? No. And then I spotted him: on the first level by the windows!
All I could think about was how he was going to kill me for being late. And now I couldn't even tell him I had arrived! How the hell was I supposed to get up there? So using my natural charm (ha) I spoke to one of the security guards, told him where I worked and that I needed to get up there. He directed me to the security office, where the guy seemed to know who I was talking about and led me to a closed staircase.
I was getting excited. It was a closed staircase. This meant people weren't allowed to go up them. But I was going to. The guard finally unlocked the gate (and locked it behind me). Walking up the stairs I had no idea where I was going. I reached the landing but I couldn't see him. I felt like Robert Langdon exploring the underground tunnels of the Vatican. There were narrow passages, tight tunnels and arches, twist and turns, but finally ... hoorah! The view from up there is amazing. A real bird's eye view. You can just imagine yourself as a plump pigeon perched on the edge of the balcony. It must be beautiful during the Easter Vigil, the Cathedral bathed in darkness, the flicker of hundreds of candles giving a slight glow ... I'm a little nervous when it comes to heights so I was glad when we made our way down.
After all the photos were taken, we made our way back to the office. I hadn't been sitting at my desk very long when I overheard someone mention my name. I didn't think it was anything, so continued with my work. My boss walked out of the office and returned a minute later saying that someone was at the front desk wanting to talk to me. I prayed he wouldn't say the name I didn't want to hear, but lo and behold he did. I froze. I quickly mumbled something about how I didn't want to see him and if he could send him away I'd appreciate it. No more questions were asked. I was thankful ... but worried. Just half an hour ago I was exploring the depths of the Cathedral like Indiana Jones, and now this. I soon came down from my high after that.
I was glad to be on my way home. Hoping no one was following me I got on the bus and let out a huge sigh of relief. Then this guy gets on. The bus is empty and he decides to sit next to me. 'Fair enough' I think, most people want to sit at the front because of the 'view', so sure, have a seat. Then he starts talking. Not to someone on the phone, or opposite him, or even to himself, but to me. I'm surprised. Strangers don't strike up conversation on public transport unless they're asking for directions or hitting on you. It wasn't the former.
Needless to say the guy was nice. Charming even. He told me he was a journalist and was on his way back to work after a spot of shopping (he has good taste, I must say). He said: 'Why are you so nice?' Me: ? Him: 'You're so nice. You talk to people when they talk to you.' Me: 'Well, yes. It's only good manners to reply, unless I feel threatened.' *laughter* It was nice to just talk. I was surprised by the experience, but he had me laughing - something I appreciated after the afternoon I just had.
He told me to remember him and shook my hand as he left. I couldn't help but think it was all a bit strange. It shouldn't be though: talking to a stranger. It should be everyday. Like he said, in other cultures everyone speaks to everyone. Here though we're antisocial workaholics. We don't like the strange and unknown. Our curiosity is not stimulated by it. We like the banal. The routine. The everyday.