A tearful farewell to working in West London

Published on 27 July 2012 in , , , , , ,

18 February 2005. Over seven years ago.

That was the day I packed up my desk at the BBC’s wonderful Bush House, right in the heart of London’s bustling West End, and bade it farewell. The following Monday I turned up for my first day working in White City, near Shepherds Bush.

I never liked working in W12, as many in the BBC collectively referred to the corporation’s West London buildings. It was a pain in the backside to get to, requiring me to commute on three tube trains and travel through central London every day. As if to taunt me, I had to change trains at Oxford Circus, right in the heart of London’s shopping district.

In the early days there was next to nothing there – no shops, few restaurants. True, someone did whack down a massive shopping centre nearby, but you still felt like you were working in the middle of nowhere. All around you were either residents of the local housing estate, or other BBC employees. I described it many times as a campus, and that’s what it felt like. Like you were somehow divorced from the rest of London.

When you leave the BBC people have a habit of saying “good luck in the real world”. It seems strangely appropriate.

No one said it to me when I left the BBC in June 2012, but I did at least have high hopes of getting back to central London. There were loads of companies out there after all. I had a strong CV and high hopes of a flashy new office in Shoreditch, or maybe in Soho. Farringdon perhaps.

And so it came to pass that I accepted a job at LOVEFiLM. LOVEFiLM is based in that well known central London location of North Acton.

For those that don’t know about the geography of London, I started a job two stops on the tube further out of London than White City. I had almost an identical commute, just two stops longer.

And on looks and facilities, North Acton makes White City look like a thriving metropolis. Almost all the cafes sell burgers, kebabs and chips even if they major on Thai food. The main shop is a Tesco Express. The main sights are the A40 and a cemetery. On and the giant phone on top of the nearby Carphone Warehouse building. Tourists stay in the area in the two budget hotels. Goodness knows what they think of it all.

But of North Acton there will be no more. For me anyway. And indeed for many of my colleagues. Today is the last time I will have to commute to Acton as, from Monday, everything changes. For we’ll be working in new offices right next to Barbican.

Central London here I come. Fun, frolics, excitement and great places to buy lunch! Lots of pubs to visit! Museums and galleries to pop in to at lunch! Gyms to use! People everywhere! A simpler, faster commute!

After seven years I coming back from the wilderness. It’s going to be awful. Honest.