This is a story about two pointless journeys. They both happened last Thursday (August 16th 2012).
The First Journey
I have a friend who's trying to set up a business - which will employ several people including me. But he's out of the country, and there's a load of paperwork.
So at 0140 on Thursday morning, just as I was getting ready for bed, he calls. He says he's got a family member who works at an embassy, and this relation as a special favour can push through all the paperwork in one day - rather that it taking several weeks.
There's just one problem: The relation goes on holiday tomorrow, so could I print out all the paperwork my friend's about to email, and catch a train to London in the morning. Oh, and I have to be at the embassy by midday at the latest, because...something something something.
The train fare will be reimbursed, but I need to get up at six in the morning to print the bumpf and get the earliest train possible. I'm dubious, but I'll do it.
It's nine hours later, I've finally found the embassy and I'm sitting in a waiting room decorated entirely in brown. I'd post a photo, but embassies don't let you take mobile phones inside because...something something something.
It's another ninety minutes later, and my friend's distant relative gets back from his two hour lunch break.
It's fifteen minutes after that, and I'm back on the street having learned four things.
One, the man who works at the embassy is in fact a receptionist. Two, receptionists cannot, as a rule, bypass their bosses. Three, half the paperwork was missing. Four, the other half was the wrong paperwork.
And after another half hour of text messages and phone calls, five: My friend's relative insists that yes, he really can fasttrack the paperwork, and it'll cost nothing extra to do (as opposed to GBP1000 to employ an agency to do it), so all I need to do is return to London in two weeks. And this time it'll work and everything'll be fine. Because...something something something.
Which I agree to do. Just as soon as the money for both train fares appears in my bank account.
So. Utter fiasco. But then I realise something.
The Second Journey
I'm in London with a train/bus/underground ticket that'll take me anywhere in the city until midnight.
I can be a tourist for the day. I've got a phone with a terrible camera, and I can do a series of blogposts featuring blurry pictures of whatever is within walking distance of whichever tube stations I chose to visit.
So begins my second journey - through the tubes. Starting tomorrow.