A day in the life of a London civil servant
When my alarm goes off at 5:30am I’m usually already awake. I get up, shower, put on a suit and by 6am I’m sitting in the kitchen with a cup of tea and a bowl of porridge. If the paper has been delivered I’ll read The Telegraph whilst I eat, otherwise I’ll read The Times on my tablet.
I leave the house around 7am and walk the three minutes to the station. At this hour I usually get a seat on the Central line so I spend the time reading my kindle and listening to music. At the moment I’m rereading my favourite book, Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, and listening to the new Elbow album.
At Stratford I’ll change onto the Jubilee line to get to Westminster. During tube strikes, of course, I have to change my route, but that can be fun – especially if I can get a boat from the Tower of London to Westminster.
At 16 I did three week’s work experience at the House of Lords and got to use the private exit from Westminster station that takes you straight to the house. Using the private exit was a thrill, but the government department I work for doesn’t have its own private exit and I don’t miss it. I’ve worked in Westminster for six years and the pride I feel every morning walking past parliament doesn’t fade. During November the Abbey grounds have a memorial field to the dead of WW1 and 2, which is a really humbling experience.
I work 10-12 hours a day and lunch consists of a sandwich from Pret or a tin of soup. I used to walk around St James Park most lunch times but I don’t have time anymore. I’ve recently discovered the College Green at Westminster Abbey which is just round the corner from the office; when work calms down in the summer I’ll be there eating my lunch as the weather warms up.
A few times a week I’ll meet former colleagues or friends after work. I like traditional English pubs like St Stephens Tavern in Westminster or the Princess Louise in Holborn. I also like modern bars such as the Holborn Whippet or the Covent Garden Cocktail Club. In the summer, I love walking down to the Albert Hall from work, meeting my girlfriend and seeing one of the Proms. People think classical music is elitist, but for £10 you get a seated ticket in a beautiful venue. Much better value than a concert at the O2!
If I’m heading straight home, I’ll walk to a tube station a mile or so away, like Holborn, to stretch my legs. It’s a great walk up through Soho. Sometimes I walk all the way home, which is roughly 12 miles. My route takes me through the West End, Soho, the City, Clerkenwell, Hackney and finally close to the Olympic Park. It’s a great way to see how London really is just lots of villages thrown together and connected by the Tube and the buses.
Whenever I get in I try to read some fiction to switch off before bed, but sometimes I’ll cave in and watch some TV – my current guilty pleasure is Modern Family. If I haven’t been out I’m asleep by 11.