I finally managed to stop being a procrastinating idiot, and get on a train to London.
Brace yourself for a long(ish), meandering story:
The good people from The Afterword had arranged an evening event/meet-up (colloquially called a Mingle) at a pub in London (see previous post Metropoliphobia).
I have been promising myself/convincing myself to attend a London event for some time. To stop me wimping out at the last minute with some feeble excuse, I made sure I bought the Train Tickets 2 weeks in advance, and printed a street map showing the route I needed to take from Oxford Circus Tube to Foley Street - there will be no backing out this time.
Friday arrived and I set off for the Bus to the Train Station. This was the first (and thankfully) last puncture to my fragile confidence when the Bus was delayed en route due to two boarding passengers arguing with the driver about the validity of their tickets. Someone on the bus lost their rag and suggested that the argumentative passengers either: "Pay the fare or get off the fucking bus - some of us have got to get to work"
Collected Tickets from the Self Service machine with no issues (was there ever going to be a problem?), and get onto the train within 5 minutes - "this is all a bit too easy" says the paranoid, self-defeating part of my brain.
Off the train, straight down to the Underground, 5 Stops and off at Oxford Circus.
Total Time spent travelling from to Central London: 90 minutes
Still seems too simple. Maybe it is this easy, and I've just forgotten. My in-built irrationality has been building this trip up into something akin to scaling the north face of Everest equipped with only wellington boots and an umbrella. Nothing like it, in fact it was a piece of piss.
Following my copious studying of my map, I knew that I had to leave the Tube Station, head up Oxford Street for a bit, and turn left into Great Portland Street.
So I exited the Station, stopped and considered my bearings and decided to turn left believing that Great Portland Street was in the direction I decided to go.
It wasn't - I realised this when I passed Berwick Street and the Plaza Shopping Centre, and started to see the sign for Tottenham Court Road Tube Station in the distance.
I turned round, headed back up Oxford Street, passed Oxford Circus (again) and found Great Portland Street. I was now heading in the right direction.
Fortunately, there were no more navigational errors and I found the King & Queen on Foley Street.
First things first - order a pint and then locate the Function Room.
I climbed the stairs, pint in hand - the moment was nearing when I, a socially inept/borderline misanthrope, would have to announce to a room full of strangers: "Hello, my name is Rigid Digit".
What was I worrying about?
I was warmly welcomed and introduced to the others who were already there. A couple of people I had met before, but mostly the others I only knew electronically. It was good to put faces to names. The whole evening was relaxed, and both the beer and the conversation flowed.
I left just after 10pm, retraced my steps, bounced on the Tube at Oxford Circus (I went the right way this time), straight onto a fast train at Paddington and was back in Reading by 11:30.
Would I go again? Yes, definitely. Standing in a pub Function Room talking about Alistair Crowley, Ian MacLagan's autobiography or the under-rated/unrecognised prodigiousness of Andy Partridge may not appeal to everyone, but I had a thoroughly enjoyable time. And there was cake too.
Everything about the evening was positive:
- I didn't get mugged
- I didn't get lost
- I didn't get too drunk and end up making a tit of myself by dancing half naked on a table
- I didn't fall asleep on the train and end up in Swansea
- I did, however, discover that there are other people in the world with the same peculiar interest in the minutiae of music and pop culture as me
And, perhaps most importantly for me, I can now see the folly of my irrationallity with travelling to London - there really is no problem.
Amazing what wasting you're time staring at a computer screen and having conversations with people you don't really know can do for one's self-confidence.