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the walking train

Oxford is in flood. There are photos all over the BBC, videos and tragic tales, too. For me this means that I have not walked into work along the towpath since last year. I got up Abingdon Road on Monday morning, but the water was already overtopping the Cow Mead allotments, and it was clearly going to be no pass on foot by the end of the day. It's no pass at all now; timscience and I went out floodgawking last night and the streets were empty apart from the odd police checking for people in trouble with the water, and the odd fire engine drifting through on a pumping mission, their lights reflected in the flowing water of the streets. So I've been going along the Iffley Road, and with two of our main roads blocked, it has been busy, busy, busy with commuters stuck in hour long traffic jams partying in their cars, bus drivers idling while reading books, and the less well adjusted accelerating at the smallest stretch of clear road.

Of course a lot of people have also decided to walk (it is faster than the bus) and there has been something of a walking train building up, particularly on the long straight broad pavements of Iffley Road. The walking train is good. You merge into the main push and you speed up. People begin to lane a bit, the faster and the slower falling into step. The synchronicity of the people's movements creates, momentarily, the impression that they might all suddenly break out into dance or song; a slow movement in sympathy with the flood victims as they wait at junctions, a fast, complicated number at the roundabouts as they all peel off into different directions, and of course a good banging euphoric going home stomp for the long pavements, where we all speed up.

Of course, it's not all good. It's not worth mentioning all the being splattered with puddle by passing traffic, but surprisingly I also got splattered with beer by a passing white van on Magdalen Bridge. A closed tinny had been dropped in the gutter, possibly by one of our alcoholics in a moment of New Year resolution (or maybe they just feared the traffic) and as the wheel of the van went over the tin it popped like a balloon and I got beered. A first for me!

Yesterday, the Thames was still rising. The rain's slacked off, but it's still well wet out there. Happy New Year. It's a wet one!

Happy New Year 2014!


( 9 worms — Feed the birds )
9th Jan, 2014 09:30 (UTC)
Now all we need is a polar vortex and there will be skating everywhere.
9th Jan, 2014 18:44 (UTC)
I vote for no polar vortex until I have planted j4's hedge
10th Jan, 2014 09:58 (UTC)
Better to get it before rather than after. I don't rate the chances of a newly planted hedge against a freeze like that.
9th Jan, 2014 10:39 (UTC)
Beered! Blimey.
I do like the Walking Train idea. There were a lot of people walking back home on Tuesday; people who probably had bussed it in for the morning commute in the wet and who decided to stuff that for a lark on the way home.

Cycling is mostly nice and clear though there have been some arsey drivers, as ever of course.
9th Jan, 2014 18:52 (UTC)
Re: Beered! Blimey.
Returning tonight was an eerily smooth bus journey (M&S dine in for £10 had left me too overburdened to walk).

I have a memory stick for you. When's a convenient time at the weekend to drop it by?
9th Jan, 2014 22:26 (UTC)
Ooooh yes sorry not to reply to your other comment earlier
We're out Sunday so Sat is best but then you're at the bookshop aren't you? End of day tomorrow (Fri) would be fine or Sat after your bookshopping if that works - or we could maybe plan to meet up for lunch next week or similar?
10th Jan, 2014 00:05 (UTC)
work's a bit solid next week
Saturday earlier will you be out? Although tomorrow early evening is tempting and I may well see you then!
Laura King
22nd Jan, 2014 12:51 (UTC)
New Year
Love the New Year painting! Lx
23rd Jan, 2014 08:13 (UTC)
Re: New Year
Thanks :)
( 9 worms — Feed the birds )