Have you had that conversation yet? The one with your boss where he or she gathers everyone in the office together and looks you all straight in the eye? If you’ve already had it, you’ll know what I’m talking about. If not, here is how it will go. There will be a sigh, then a grimace and finally the question will be asked in the same way a cheeky fart is released into a crowded lift; delicately and hesitantly.
‘So, who is going to able to come in during the Olympics?’
At this point, there will be a general feeling of awkwardness with the imperceptible sound of tables being turned. You know the guy who is always cranky because he has to make a 2-hour commute each way, every day? He’s now sitting back in his chair, waiting, just waiting. Just waiting for the moment when he can say, ‘No, I’m afraid not. I’ve read the TfL advice. London Bridge is going to be a nightmare. Not just for the Olympics but also for the Paralympics. Sorry.’
Where you live in London is not only one of the last gambits to use in order to revive a flagging conversation at a party, it’s also one of the ways in which you define yourself and justify why you live here. You can indulge in gallows humour about living in Tooting, look smug about residing in Hampstead or bask in the reflected cool of Dalston.
Now it’s all being turned against you. Having a place in the centre of London is normally an excuse to show off to parents and non-London friends. Now it means there’s absolutely no excuse for you not to come to work. If you live in zone 1 or 2, it’s going to be difficult but not impossible. Compared to the folks in places like Sudbury Hill and Debden, you’ll have little in the way of arguing to be allowed to stay at home.
You know all the people that you used to make fun of for having to live in the middle of nowhere? The residents of Hounslow, Becontree and Ickenham? Well they’re now laughing, oh how they are laughing. They might not have much, they might not have anything fun to do after work and it might take them hours and hours to commute as they trudge back through zones three, four, five and six. But for those five weeks spread across July, August and September, they are going to be having the time of their lives.
Image by Vaidotas Stanevicius courtesy of Flickr