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5:46pm on Tuesday, 22nd December, 2009:



It was the departmental Christmas lunch today. The email said to arrive at 12:30 for 1pm.

I had some Christmas shopping to do first, so I left the house at 10:30. There's still snow everywhere, and people doing their Christmas shopping, so I expected a little wait at the car parks.

Hmm. The car park I normally use was queued up back to a set of traffic lights at a junction, so I couldn't even join that line. I went to the next one and joined that. I joined it at 11am. Things looked good because it was moving.

It turned out it was moving because people were abandoning it and going home. If I'd only have been Christmas shopping, I'd have done the same. However, as I had to be in town for the Christmas lunch, I waited. I was aware that all the multi-storey car parks were operating at reduced capacity because they had snow on their open-to-the-air top level, but surely it wouldn't take all that long?

It was noon when I eventually parked. I was in that queue for an hour. I could have parked at the train station and walked and got in sooner. I could have taken the bus and ... well actually, I'd have been stuck, because shortly after I set off there was a major gas leak in central Colchester which had gridlocked the place by 11:30, not that I knew from my place tantalisingly close to the front of a non-moving queue.

After I parked, I went to the building society to bank a cheque my father-in-law had given my wife for Christmas. There were two people on the desks, one of whom was a trainee. Both were dealing with long and fussy requests from unrepentant customers. The trainee had to keep getting up to ask her behind-a-door supervisor what to do. I was in that queue for 20 minutes before I got served. Then, it turned out my father-in-law had written the cheque in my wife's maiden name, so they wouldn't take it. Augh!

I arrived at the restaurant a fashionable 5 minutes late. I was the first one there. Everyone else was stuck in traffic. Another lecturer who lived a 10-minute walk away showed up next, then a technical guy who had driven into Colchester earlier. We were supposed to start eating at 1pm. We eventually had a quorum of diners by 2pm. I left at 4pm, while most people were still having their coffees.

Next Christmas lunch, I'm packing my laptop. I may as well do some marking whiel I'm waiting.

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Copyright © 2009 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).