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London Courier for a Day
Charlie Pearch is a Rapha Condor Club member and rider. Last Friday, as we sent Rapha Condor's Dean Downing and Matt Cronshaw out on to the mean streets of London to courier Fast Friday packages, CP appeared in the alleyway at Rapha HQ ready to despatch parcels alongside them. Astride his fixed wheel Condor with his messenger-style garb of courier-bag, Fixed Shorts and an unidentifiable beanie hat, Charlie took to the task with relish. Here is his account.
So on a crisp November Friday, I take a day off from broking insurance in order to deliver Rapha packages around London. An odd way in which to use up a day's holiday I admit, but it's really good to be brought back to earth, to the real world, to a place where you work very hard for eighty quid.
First up, a trip south to Waterloo, it was cold and the wind was fairly strong, a van cut right across me and a proper courier. We chatted and he guided me through a mile of London's streets, ducking and diving between a mixture of vans, buses and assorted metal. He invited me to meet a group of couriers for coffee but I apologised as the package had a deadline and I couldn't let Rapha down on my first delivery. So with regret I span off with a wave.
At the first drop off I quickly appreciate that I am a low form of life. The security guard throws all sorts of rules at me; no bike, go round the back, don't use a mobile phone to call the customer… He delighted at making a simple task difficult. I stood my ground and waited for the appreciative and nice customer to come down and pick up his package. Job done and back to Perren Street where the industrious Rapha staff were packing up more orders.
Off again with two more packages, the first to a really flash building. Once again I had to negotiate security, but this time an understanding guard let me leave the bike in reception "just this once". This was dropped with a receptionist who looked straight through me.
Next stop, the Strand. This time I was blocked and told to go round the back to the post room who were unamused as I rode right up to the window. "Get off your bike". Here they scanned the package and demanded my name and company. Ugh!
Starting to know the route back north well now, Camden Market had come alive by midday. Lunch at Mario's (a Rapha favourite) around the corner where you get a good welcome from someone who appreciates bikes - thanks, Mario.
Out on the road again, this time to Holland Park. Get lost, going the long way round, but at a bus stop a wonderful Norwegian woman gives me some guidance. Down a one way street the wrong way and I get a telling off from a do gooder. At the intercom of a huge house I get the wrong number, a phone begins to ring and some guy answers. He tells me that he hadn't ordered a package from Rapha, and that he was in Dubai. What?
Finally dropped it off a few doors down to the customer's wife, who seemed unamused to have to come to the gate in bare feet, but another package delivered.
Getting dark now, I am knackered, I spot a wonderful pair of legs and follow them into the coffee shop where I enjoy another espresso, they ignore my compliment and I sit for a few moments knowing my place in life. Four drop offs would earn me fourty quid. Spare a thought for those Couriers, they earn every penny. On Monday I am going to ensure that my post room always use bike couriers from now on. To the courier community, Chapeau.
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