View Full Version : A journey to work

12-05-2009, 09:08:39
A journey to work
In the style of Erlend Loe

When I leave my house I start on a crescent road that leads out onto the main road. I like this road. This is my neighbourhood and it is all white fin de siŤcle houses divided into flats and in all of the flats there are middle class couples like my girlfriend and I. That reassures me.

In the front garden of one of these houses someone has two fixed-wheel bikes. One of them is white with blue wheels, the other is gold with black wheels. They are really cool. One day I saw an old man just leaning on the wall outside the house looking at them. I could have stopped and joined him. Iím going to buy a fixed-wheel bike as soon as I sell my house.

Where it joins the man road, there are a lot of shops and other road junctions. It is always busy with buses and vans and cars in the morning. Normally not moving very fast. There is a pelican crossing which I always walk across very aggressively because it is nice to have traffic stop for you. After that, the long main road goes all the way down to the canal. This is the most boring part of the walk. It is a long straight road and there isnít much to see. If Iím lucky a pretty girl will be ahead of me on the pavement. This make this section go a lot quicker.

At the end of the long road I go through a small bit of very posh houses before the canal. The houses are all immaculately kept and have trees in the garden and expensive cars parked outside. If you look through the windows you can see big rooms with high ceilings and normally book shelves full of books. Iím glad that there are houses like that.
There is a security guard who stands on one of the street corners round here. He is there every morning I walk to work, and every evening I walk back from work. I donít know what heís guarding. I thought it might have been one of the houses that was being renovated, but the house is finished and heís still there. Often I see him talking to people. He must be really bored.

Then I am at the canal and the canal leads into a large area of water with an island in the middle. The island is always full of water birds. These are the birds I normally see:

Various kinds of ducks

Itís normally really noisy because of the geese.

After that I come to a big new area with lots of big office buildings. People are streaming out from the station and going to the offices. I see the same people every day walking towards me. It gets busy now and you have to walk so that you donít walk into anyone and no one walks into you, but this can be hard because everyone walks very fast, including me.

The station is an amazing building. I come in the back and along a footbridge that means I can see the whole station, with the huge arched glass roof letting in beams of light and the trains all lined up beneath it. If a train has just arrived swarms of people rush out and off to wherever they are going. If not, it can be very quiet, even at rush hour.

My train is always at Platform Number 1. I always sit in the very front carriage, carriage A, which is also the quiet carriage. It is always very empty and very quiet. I know this is not what people expect from a rush hour train journey on a big train but I seem to have been very lucky somehow.

I donít look out of the window so much any more, the sights are too familiar now. I read my book or play a game and the train hurries on at 125mph. In the carriage sometimes some people talk or eat breakfast but otherwise it is very quiet.

Sometimes someone start talking on a mobile phone and someone will tell them it is not allowed or they will be half way through the conversation and realise it is the quiet carriage and become embarrassed.

Eventually the train comes to a town. I lived in this town for 33 years, give or take a few months at university. I used to stand on the platform and catch the same train that I am now arriving on. Now I watch the same people getting on the train who get on it every day. The train leaves.

The final stretch of the journey is very quick. I have to finish my game or my book and put my coat back on. Countryside rushes past the window. A thousand trees that I donít know the names of.

There is a farm near my stop and the farmer has lots of old cars rotting in a field. There are at least three white limousines just sitting there with plants growing out of them. I often wonder how they got there or what the farmer was going to do with them and other things like that.

Eventually the train goes under a motorway bridge and we are at my stop. I like to be first off the train because it is so busy. Also for some reason, despite the fact that all the people on my train get the train every day, some of them donít know how to open the doors properly. Outside the train it is cold and fresh and sunny. I run up the steps from the platform and I am nearly at work. I can see people in my office through the windows, talking and drinking coffee. Despite the fact I donít really like my job this makes me happy.

12-05-2009, 09:40:04
Nice story :)

12-05-2009, 09:42:49
I'm not too sure what to say to that! I enjoyed reading it.

12-05-2009, 09:57:24
I liked it too.

Are you really thinking of getting a fixed wheel bike? Someone at work rides one of these:

It looks very pretty, but I should imagine it's terrifying in traffic. Cycling in London is scary.

Edit: though the pictured bike has proper brakes too, which I don't think the guy at work's bike does.

12-05-2009, 10:32:29
Was reading about how fixies are all the rage at the moment in the Guardian or Observer not too long ago. I can't find the article where the guy tested one for some reason, just this one:


Also liked the story. :beer:

12-05-2009, 10:56:38
Originally posted by Debaser

Are you really thinking of getting a fixed wheel bike?

I really am. I can see it's going to be incredibly impractical and possibly dangerous, but i've got it in my head and i'm going to see it through.

Yes, been reading some of the fixey info out there, there is some leeway in whether you have brakes or not, etc.

Had a look for some on ebay and elsewhere. Lots of small scale operations doing custom ones from second hand/vintage frames.

This site has a really cool selection: http://bricklanebikes.co.uk/gallery

Greg W
12-05-2009, 13:01:23
Alright, what the fudge is a fixed wheel bike? Does that mean one with no shocks/springs at the front? Looks like a normal bicycle to me, aside from the fact it seems to have something akin to racing front handle bars.

Probably just showing my ignorance here because I haven't owned a bike in years...

Liked the story, even if it's not quite my style. :beer:

12-05-2009, 13:35:00
It's a one speed bike with no freewheel.

They've always been common in the US and OZ, so you probably had something similar when you were a kid, did you ever have a bike where you had to peddle backwards to stop? It's one of them basically.

Greg W
12-05-2009, 13:38:45
Ah, ok. Yeah, that was the first bike I ever had actually. Used to be able to do mad skids with it on grass (especially). :D

12-05-2009, 15:48:36
Incidentally Phil, is this story written generically in the style of Erlend Loe, or more specifically in the style of Naive Super? I like Naive Super a lot, but haven't read any of his other work.

12-05-2009, 20:48:08
Nice story. Almost makes me want to write one of my own journey to work - cycling (but not on a fixie)...

13-05-2009, 08:24:11
Originally posted by Debaser
Incidentally Phil, is this story written generically in the style of Erlend Loe, or more specifically in the style of Naive Super? I like Naive Super a lot, but haven't read any of his other work.

Me either, so just naive super. But wiki tells me that his general style is considered to be 'naive' so i felt safe :)

13-05-2009, 11:06:21
it feels a bit zen.

15-05-2009, 07:14:28
it was an hype when we were 12

you were really kewl when you had a Dorie

15-05-2009, 07:15:29
and this reminds me of Nav riding my bike in Rotterdam

Lazarus and the Gimp
15-05-2009, 19:47:21
Those fixed-wheel bikes look lethal.

19-05-2009, 22:43:54
i have nothing to do so i'll write my journey to work.

I wake up at around 12 in a building in the center of athens in what is considered a "bad neighborhood". i make instant coffee and smoke 5 or 6 cigs while listening a bit to the radio.
I take the elevator and come out in a place where it's full of concrete. you can even see the cockroaches walk the pavements soemtimes and the buildings are so tall it makes the sun hide.
that feels like you're in the deep bowels of a pithole of concrete. you and the coackroaches. you walk together.
then i pass through the narrow streets which are crammed with parked cars. get into mine and start driving on a very traffic heavy street. regularly some immigrants are waiting at the lights to clean my windshield and will try to do so whatever i say.
people are walking all around, it's a crazy sea of concrete, cars, people (and cockroaches). the noise pollution is big, the air pollution too and the only thing that is beautiful is the sky. up above. it is almost always beautiful. while i wait at the usual turn to take the highway to work i always let my eyes drift up. the sky never dissapoints me.
then another congested street, crazy tricks with cars, almost no regard of rules of the road.
then another turn and it's the highway.
if i'm lucky there's no traffic so i can step on the gas and feel that acceleration adrenaline rush.
i arrive at my job, park the car, then walk through an underground tunel to the job offices.
i check my hair at the elevator mirror and the highlight of my day when I say hi to a girl who's opposite of the elevator door at my floor. the one i went out with.
after that, it's the same old fucking thing all over again.

20-05-2009, 08:39:41
Your misery is nonetheless entertaining :beer:

20-05-2009, 12:06:15
if i could pull my head out of my arse i could easily switch neighborhoods. but it takes too much dedication that currently i don't have!

20-05-2009, 12:06:43
or maybe i just like it here. subconsciously.