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11:40am on Sunday, 6th February, 2011:

33 Years


When I was in London yesterday, I wondered how well construction of the Shard was going, so went to Waterloo Bridge to have a look (answer: it doesn't look as tall as it really is).

I was reminded of the time when I was 18 and had to travel through London to get to Southampton for an interview at the university as a prospective student. I needed to get from King's Cross to Waterloo quite quickly, so rather than take the underground (which I hadn't been on before) I decided to go by taxi. I knew that Waterloo was a famous London station, but my ticket said "Waterloo Street Station" on it, so just to be sure when I got into the taxi I asked to be taken to Waterloo Street Station.

"You're not from round here, are you?" asked the perceptive taxi-driver.
"No", I replied, "I'm from Yorkshire".
"Do you know how I could tell?"
"My accent?"
He ignored my response. "During the war, we had to keep a look out for German spies, and although they might speak perfect English without an accent, they'd say things like 'Waterloo Street Station' when all the local people would just say 'Waterloo'".

Or alternatively, they were from up north and just read what it said on the ticket.

Anyway, I remember thinking at the time that the war had ended 33 years earlier, which felt like an eternity. This taxi driver had been driving taxis for 33 years. Imagine that! 33 years! That seemed to me to be a very distant past.

1978 was 33 years ago from 2011.

As I've said before, this always staggers me.

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Copyright © 2011 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).