Oxford now…

For my first Oxford train test, I take the slowest route possible from Brixton starting at 5. I suspect it’s not going to work but it’s worth a try. I will leave rehearsal in Brixton at 5. This is the cheapest option.

Circle line round to Paddington from Victoria which is a mistake. The slow train, changing at Reading. I get to the venue at 19.24. The show would start at 19.30. If I did that the other actors would actually literally murder me. The slow route is not an option. Good to know. There’s a much faster direct train. It’s considerably more expensive but if the bike falls through I’ll get a season ticket, use it and hopefully be fine. Especially if I avoid the Circle Line as it always stops too much. Yeah. This is my head at the moment. Train times. Bikes. Logistics.

I’m in Oxford now to try to make sure the bike option doesn’t fall through as it still looks like the best one. I smashed my theory test, so the trip to Rochester was worth it. Lovely ancient run down Rochester.


Now for the practical stuff. Practic-Al.

It’s off to walk one and a half hours to a training ground at crack of dawn tomorrow, where I’m going to ride around cones all day in the sun. The first half of the practical test is mostly that – going very slowly around cones while someone with a clipboard and high vis takes themselves very seriously, stands in annoying places and occasionally ostentatiously writes something down. There are lots of ways of fucking it up and I’m very capable of all of them. It’s about trying to minimise the chances of losing speed and putting my foot down, or hammering the front brake. Then God willing it’s out on the road where all you have to do is inconvenience another road user and you’re out on your ear. Plus the fact that real traffic can lead to real dead Al. It’s a lot to come up against. I’ll be lucky to find the headspace in time. But I gotta try.

I’ve got a great launchpad, and one which arguably would never have come about were it not for this blog. Ginny was at primary school with me. Now she’s got 4 kids, works for the NHS, lives in Oxford and knows the bits of my life I’m sharing through this wordy outlet.

She’s extended the hand of welcome to her slightly preoccupied old friend, an instinct I understand well having done it so much myself over the years to friends and strangers. I’m writing this on my lovely little pull out bed in the study. A man is reading a story aloud next door to one of the kids. He’s doing all the voices. It involves cabbages. I’m already bone tired and it’s only half nine. Ginny was already at work when I arrived – her shift ends at 2am. I might not even see her this time round bearing in mind the hours she works and the fact I’m only in town for two days and I’m mostly going to be driving around cones, remembering to cancel my indicators and trying to persuade a complete stranger that I’m safe enough in charge of a great big terrifying engine on wheels for them to put ticks on their clipboard and advance me to the next stage of this clusterfuck which is finding the bike and getting insured on the damn thing.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

2 thoughts on “Oxford now…”

  1. This month’s Popular Mechanics has a multi page article about learning to drive a motorcycle. It says that the hardest part about the practical test is turning around in a tight spot without your feet touching the ground. It says to point your head in the direction you are going and don’t look down at the front wheel.


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