I thought it might be interesting to give a blow-by-blow-by-blow account of what I get up to on the average day. It might not be, of course. It might be incredibly boring. But I won’t know for sure unless I try.
6.30am: I get up and stumble through to the kitchen. Kettle on, make sandwiches. I’m very excited about today’s sandwiches, because I made onion and rosemary rolls over the weekend.
7.00am: I put large quantities of branflakes, muesli, grated apple and soya milk in a bowl, and eat it, and read a book, and watch the sky get light.
7.30am: (Or thereabouts.) Leave the house. Idiot check: keys, wallet, mobile, radio, Xda, lock, lunch, A-Z.
7.50am: Draw up at Carluccio’s in the Brunswick Centre (WC1). Pay £2.15 for a latte, and tell myself this is a ridiculous amount to pay for a latte, as I do every morning. Read about Martin Amis and feminism in Guardian. Say good morning to the staff. Call Andy on the radio to let him know where I am.
8.30am: Andy calls me with my first job – Fleet Street to Victoria Embankment. Hardly any distance at all. Admire the river. It’s a beautiful day.
9.05am: Holborn. I’m running early for my second job, so use this opportunity to buy my usual second breakfast of one almond croissant and one pain au chocolat (Sainsbury’s; £1).
9.16am: Take a photo of one of my favourite views, whilst waiting for the lift at Diffiniti.
9.25am: Jobs coming thick and fast; still waiting for a moment to eat pastries.
9.43am: Hungry. Take a couple of minutes after picking up a job, and stuff almond croissant into my mouth.
9.54am: Chap in a lift asks if I’m not cold riding my bike around all day. I assure him that the exercise keeps me warm. This is a conversation I have several times a day.
9.56am: Wolf down pain au chocolat before launching myself down Park Lane, which is simply glorious on a day like this.
11.16am: A healthy batch of SW1 pick-ups have taken me up to Camden, where I pick up a couple more for EC2. Hungry again, but too busy to stop and eat.
11.30am: Pick-up in Holborn. One of the van drivers offers me a pink lady apple. He couldn’t resist them in Sainsbury’s, because of the name (we both work for Pink Express). I can’t remember his name (or maybe I never knew it – I’m the only girl on the fleet, so everyone knows who I am, and sometimes they don’t bother to introduce themselves), but accept it anyway.
11.33am: A oldish courier whose name I don’t know offers me a fruit pastille as we wait for the lights at Holborn Circus, and comments on what a lovely day it is, and how everyone’s riding around smiling. January was the worst he’s ever seen, apparently. It was only my second, so I have less basis for comparison.
12.00pm: Paul, the lunchtime controller, comes on the radio.
12.05pm: I drop my last package, on Gresham Street, and decide to have a spot of lunch before I call in empty. I eat the apple.
12.11pm: I call in empty, correctly assuming that Paul won’t have any work for me right away. (Either he’s not as efficient a controller as Andy, or Andy never bothers to set up my next lot of jobs before he goes for lunch.) I eat a sandwich.
12.26pm: Still no work. I start on my second sandwich.
12.28pm: Called away to a pick-up in Jockey’s Fields, going down to the Strand. Debate hanging around to finish sandwich. Decide against it, and put half-eaten sandwich in bag.
12.39pm: Another pick-up on High Holborn. My Xda tells me it was booked at 12.35, which means I’ve picked it up in 4 minutes flat! I’m always pleased and a bit smug when this happens, even though it has more to do with good luck and efficient controlling than any skill on my part.
12.43pm: Sent back to same address for another pick-up.
12.44pm: Job on board. Time from booking to collection: 1 minute. Smug.
12.48pm: Another pick-up, from Aldwych. Time from booking to collection: 3 minutes. I now have four jobs on board. It’s a busy day. I start to feel a bit bouncy and over-excited, as though I’ve just had a strong coffee, which I haven’t.
12.50pm: Head onto the Strand. Flying along, full of energy, feeling on top of the world. Remind myself to be super-careful – it would be especially irritating to have some sort of crash when everything’s going so well. Earworm switches inexplicably from Anastacia to Glen Miller.
1.32: Get rid of last package at Stanhope Gate (W1). Stomach growling. I shut it up with the remains of the second sandwich. Am given next job two bites in, but ignore it, and finish sandwich.
2.30: Back in EC2. Little break in Bishop’s Square. Stifle a sugar craving with sandwich number three, and wonder whether I’ll be given the White Cube post run, an N1>N1>SW1>N1>N1 monster job, which starts in Hoxton Square at 3.00pm and is your likely fate if you find yourself empty in the City between 2.30 and 3.00.
2.39pm: White Cube post run appears on Xda, as predicted. Finish sandwich before dawdling over to Hoxton.
2.48pm: Pick up first installment from White Cube Hoxton Square, and head towards the warehouse, on Wharf Road.
2.55pm: Crawl up City Road. Legs feeling like wood all of a sudden. Post-lunch slump sets in.
2.59pm: Pick up post from White Cube warehouse, and refill my bottle from their water cooler.
3.21pm: Stop off at White Cube Mason’s Yard, in St James’s. Hope that I’ll be given one or two jobs to go back east with, because if the White Cube post run gets lengthened a bit, I usually manage to finish after 5.00pm on Wharf Road, which is only a couple of miles from my flat. (It’s so disheartening to finish in SW1, and have to ride right through the centre during the rush hour to get home.)
3.36pm: Pick-up on Sackville Street. A man smoking outside says “cor, aren’t you cold in this weather, with no gloves?”. I take my gloves out of my pocket. He looks a bit disappointed.
3.50pm: I have a nice little run of jobs on board – one drop on Newgate Street (EC1), then the White Cube returns (Wharf Road and Hoxton Square), then one more on St Peter’s Street, which is even further into N1, and consequently on my way home.
3.52pm: Andy ruins this plan by telling me the St Peter’s Street job’s a special, and needs to be dropped first. I ask if I can reverse the usual order of the Wharf Road and Hoxton Square drops, since I’ll be passing along Wharf Road on my way to Hoxton. I am told the client would have a blue fit, and I have to do it the usual way, i.e. first Hoxton Square, then Wharf Road. The EC1 is to be dropped last.
4.45pm: St Peter’s Street. (I don’t know why that took so long. I think there were another couple of jobs in there somewhere.) Almost within sight of home. Turn wearily back towards the City.
4.47pm: Pass the warehouse on Wharf Road, and think again how ridiculous it is that I can’t just drop off their post then and there.
4.53pm: Drop off the post at Hoxton Square, and turn back towards Wharf Road.
5.02pm: Ah, back at Wharf Road. Thank god the post has been delivered in the right order, and civilization maintained. Am less than two miles from home. Turn south again
5.17pm: Deliver final package on Newgate Street. Brusquely inform evening controller I’m going home, and hightail it up Goswell Road.
5.39pm: Hit Sainsbury’s.
6.15pm: (Or thereabouts.) Home! Make a start on To Do list; put dinner on.
7.00pm: Dinner. Pasta, pesto, tuna, tomato, carrot and toasted sunflower seeds.
Somewhat later: Cake. Carrot and orange. Courtesy of wonderful flatmate.
Somewhat later still: Begin to consider that packet of chocolate HobNobs I left in the cupboard.