I am not in Fulham Broadway right now. Nor likely to be for a very long time. But for the last year or so this was the image I saw twice a day every weekday on my way to and from what turned out to be my very last full time job!
It wasn’t going to be like that. That was not the plan, if there ever actually was one. I always started every new position thinking I would remain there till I dropped. Not till it dropped me!
And this time I really thought and hoped it might happen. After teaching for just over forty years I thought being a librarian would see me out.
What’s not to love about being a school librarian? 15000 books to have and to hold. 100 intelligent young sixthformers to nurture and behold. Space to think though no time to read. Except on the commute.
That was always something to look forward to, if sometimes a challenge. Will I get a seat? Will someone stand up? Do I look old enough or tired enough or is it just that I am about to sit on their lap if they don’t get up in time?
So, for the last year I had a lovely time – most of the time. My greatest failing was my innate subversiveness, I suppose. Nothing major. But I have always found it difficult to follow rules I don’t understand. And here I was supposed to keep the blighters quiet. Yes, of course. I did that. After a fashion.
Let there be silence. And a rustling occurred. Let there be peace. And a murmur occurred.
At this point I was supposed to start doling out detentions. And I just couldn’t do it. Not officially. I did keep them back sometimes. For a little chat. Or to help me. And they understood why. And they also appreciated that it wouldn’t go on their record. It took a while for the young people to understand that I did mean business. But a lot longer for the powers that be. So they restructured the library and advertised for a sergeant major. Or some such person.
So Fulham Broadway, in all its glory, will be no more.
I will miss the lovely Jehova’s witness ladies who were invariably smiling and welcoming despite the vagaries of the weather. I will miss the invariably smiling and welcoming people in Pret who were crazily rushed off their feet. I will miss the embarrassed looks of the schoolboys on the platforms who never knew whether to acknowledge me or to ignore me. An older one eventually told me it was my job to ignore them and deny all knowledge or acquaintance. Easier all round, especially when they were committing the cardinal sins of eating or listening to their mobile phones.
So there we have it! Today is my last ever pay day! Life from now on will be a bit of a