Walking to work

Thursday 29 April

Last week (26-30 April 2010) was Walk to Work Week. This is brought to you by Walking Works and has been running for a few years now. Despite this, and despite walking part of my way to work for years this is the first time I’ve taken part in the week formally. So if I haven’t got any work to walk to does this make this an ironic act? Irony can certainly be defined as an instance used to draw some incongruity or irrationality but I didn’t set out for it to be this. I get a bit confused about irony these days. It seems to me it’s often used to camouflage racism, sexism and all other sort of isms and Alanis Morissette (probably the most mis-spelt artist in modern music) wrote a song called Ironic that’s just a list of examples of bad luck.

“It’s a death row pardon two minutes too late
And isn’t it ironic… don’t you think”

 Well no actually, since you asked, Alanis.

Anyway, semantics apart, my mate from Metropolitan Walkers, Paul (a Bristol Rovers fan hence the replica shirt) has been walking once during Walk to Work Week from his home in Croydon to his workplace in Kings Cross for the last 4 years. This year he’s linked the 13 mile journey to a fundraising exercise for CJD research. Julian Bailey, another Bristol Rovers fan, recently died from this horrific disease and Paul thought it would be appropriate to raise some money for the CJD Support Network. (Check out the links and please donate to this worthy cause via Paul’s justgiving page.)

I was aiming to hook up with Paul and his mate Dave (who was joining at Crystal Palace) at Oval station at 7.30 am. On my way to Kingston station to catch the 6.34 I was struck by how well the cherry blossom trees are doing this year. They certainly seem to have benefited from our long dry spell. I think it was that Shropshire lad AE Housman, who, when he was living in London, wrote “Loveliest of trees, the cherry now” – you might almost say it springs to my mind. The Natural History Museum is currently conducting a national survey of cherry trees, which is bloomin’ great idea. I know I don’t commute much these days but ain’t the early morning journeyers different from those later – not many suits evident on this train, mostly overalls and jeans.

Waiting at Oval station just before 7.30 the commuting crowd was smarter dressed and as the hordes bustled by with their coffee and free papers I couldn’t help thinking how good the public transport is in London. Apparently 13 million work here every day and if my observations are anything to go by an increasing number now choose to cycle in. Rather surprisingly I heard the other day that 24% of the population in Manhattan walks to work every day and while in the USA as a whole 90% drive to work, 60% walk, cycle or use public transport in New York city. (I quite like statistics – my favourite is that 6 out of 7 dwarves aren’t happy and there’s always Vic Reeve’s assertion that 88.2% of statistics are made up on the spot.)

I’d missed Love Walk but I completed about a quarter of Paul’s route to his finish at Kings Cross. We were lucky that the weather was so mild – 1 layer and short sleeves for me at that – and all in all it was a very pleasant experience – except maybe for Dave who had developed an impressive blister by this time. Remember walking to work shouldn’t be just for a week but you don’t need to walk all the way. Go on give it a go, it’ll definitely help with your health and you’ll get to see parts of town that you don’t normally notice. I’ve got the walking part nailed down all I need to sort out now is the work thing.

More information:

Paul’s justgiving page: http://www.justgiving.com/Paul-Davis1883

Listen to:

Public Enemy – He Got Game

Ricky Nelson – I’m Walking

Jackson Browne – Walking Town

Elmer Bernstein – Walking Through Town

Epic – Walking Around Town





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