Tuesday, 11 November 2008

A Day Out...

I had one of those "Insect Days" today*.  It was a personal one, in that I was out on a training course, rather than a whole-school one (where the students are off, but the teachers are not!) Alas, it wasn't in Barcelona... however, Barcelona might have been a little easier to get to, and I believe that the journey is about the same length!

My INSET day was in Islington, at the Hilton Hotel, and it was a training day on how to teach the new GCE AS/A Level Biology specification.  The fact that we have been teaching the new specification since September is beside the point... it takes the Exam Boards a little bit of time to catch up... after all, they have to work out what's going to be in the exam first!

As the only road-route from my home to Islington would have involved driving through the centre of town (in the morning rush hour), thereby incurring the Congestion Charge and exorbitant parking fees, followed by the joys of driving back through the centre of town during the evening rush hour, I decided that it probably wasn't going to be practical. So, I was forced to use public transport.

The journey would have been pretty straightforward, if I hadn't had one of my blonde moments. I needed to get to the Angel, Islington, a tube station on the Northern Line.  I remembered that the Northern Line went through both London Bridge and Charing Cross... so a train going to either of those two London stations would be ok.  And I remembered that trains to these two stations left from Sidcup every 15 minutes or so, whereas trains from my nearest station only went to one of these stations, every half hour.

In a moment of what I thought was sheer inspiration I decided that, by driving to Sidcup, I would double my chances of getting a train, and it would make my evening easier too, as I had to go to Eltham afterwards.  I happily caught the first train to arrive at the platform, which happened to be the Charing Cross train, and congratulated myself on my inspired decision...

Unfortunately my inspired decision forgot to take into account the little fact that the Northern Line has two separate branches.

The Angel, Islington is on one branch.  Charing Cross is on the other.

I did arrive, eventually, albeit a little late...

Going home was much simpler.  I did have to run the gauntlet of several charity workers who were busy accosting passers-by in an attempt to drum up funding.  It was interesting to observe the different techniques they employed.  Avoiding eye contact with them, and walking briskly seemed to put most of them off, but one young man seemed to have this sussed: he waved his hands (and you can't help but look, as the human eye is automatically drawn to movement) and then smiled in a very engaging way (and you can't help responding to a smile) and then he started his little speech walking backwards in front of me...  Such persistence deserved a few minutes of my time, though, as the charity concerned has connections with the Brook, I didn't part with any money!

* "Insect Days" (the nickname is given because so many children mis-hear the phrase!) are actually "INSET days" (in-service training days) for teachers.  The individual training courses (usually subject specific) are often quite useful; the whole-school days are generally a waste of time!

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