Simon Bisson (sbisson) wrote,
Simon Bisson

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The Road to Hell (or rather, Peterborough)

Yesterday I had to go to Peterborough to sell myself to a prospective client. To be honest, the whole consultancy presales process is something I rather enjoy - it's a process of judging what to say in the meeting, as you need to show you can add value to their organisation - but you also have to avoid jumping to conclusions, and overselling yourself.

But still, that's all by the by, or at least only a scene setting for the events of the journey.

Peterborough's about 70 minutes north of London. So leaving at 9 am for a 12 noon meeting is normally safe. In fact, it's my usual paranoid "get there an hour early to wander around aimlessly" approach. Unfortunately yesterday was the day that west London decided to go into gridlock. To get to the A1 from Putney, my usual route takes me up through the middle of west London, via Shepherds Bush. It's normally pretty quick, 40 minutes or so and you're on the M1 up and out of the city, heading north.

Yesterday was not my day. A burst water main in Wood Lane was backing up traffic around the Shepherds Bush area, and then a major set of traffic lights on the A40 (the main road that leads out the M40 from London to Birmingham) failed. The result? Solid traffic for a couple of miles around the major routes in the area. I managed to extract myself from the extreme congestion via Acton and the Uxbridge Road, but even that usually overlooked route felt somewhat slower than usual.

As I drove along, I realised that the problem lay a little up the road. Right by a bank. A bank that was full of policemen, and a road that was full of police cars.

So, a burst water main, a failed junction and a bank robbery. Not a bad catalogue of obstructions.

I'm still surprised I was only 15 minutes late for the meeting...
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