Although, obviously, the distance between my flat and MediaCityUK never actually changes, on some days it just seems further away. I can walk there in 20 minutes but, in those moments when the whole thing appears to have shifted by another mile, I drive. And when I’m going round and round, up and up in the car park, I curse myself for not having been a little more tough, for not having the discipline to simply leave earlier and enjoy the walk.
Of course this battle of the ‘should’ goes solely on inside my own head, it’s not shared with others. When I meet Julie Wilson at the Arrive building, and she tells me how she and her business partner, Rob Brown, came to name their agency Rule 5, she has no idea that I am quietly berating myself for my laziness..
“It’s rule 5 of the Velominati, the rules which cyclists have set themselves. It basically suggests you harden up, push through and overcome when things get tough. It’s a good talking point.”
We’re sitting in a communal area, all bright colours and soft furnishings. It’s a place designed to relax you, not remind you of cycling up a steep hill.
“We’ve been here since the company started, it’s got an energy, a sense of opportunity. You can feel everything growing around you. We feel energised here.”
I mention to her that I’d recently watched the film A Taste Of Honey, which depicts this area when it was home to hundreds of ships, and sheathed in mill smoke, and that it was impossible to imagine these quays lined with shiny glass architecture, housing people working in an industry not yet thought of only 50 years ago.
“I know,” Julie continues. “When I drive into work, and come over the top of the new road, and see the buildings rise up, it’s unbeatable. Everything comes to life around here. Even the car parks at sunset are beautiful.”
Her business has won several awards, and she uses the word “strive” a few times as we talk, and so I ask her if she is ever able to switch off from her work?
“I do try to get out of the office when I can, and do a lap of the quays. I love being near water, and I get to the coast as often as I can, to escape and clear my head. I’m only two hours from North Wales, or just ninety minutes from the Lakes. I can’t wait to get my walking boots on. I’ve set myself the mission to get around all Britain’s coast. But I love what I do, and I work intensely. I have to try and set parameters, so that I get a balance and give myself that head space. ”
A microwave ‘pings’ at the far side the room, like the bell on a child’s bike, and this alerts me to the fact that I’m slouched on the sofa. Julie is telling me that she sometimes power walks into work, and so I make the effort to sit forward. The image of my car, resting in the multi-storey comes into my head, and I once again feel ashamed that I didn’t even bother to stroll the short distance from where I live to here.
Julie smiles at me, warmly, as if reading my thoughts. “We’ve just worked with one client in Blackpool. They’ve opened a rollercoaster and I wasn’t allowed to go on it as I’ve got an injury.” She was perhaps sympathising with me, hoping to reassure me. But I sit there thinking that maybe she would have considered riding up to the top of the rollercoaster, and freewheeled down the other side if they’d let her.