Somehow I had managed to persuade myself that a trip down the Hackney (east London) sewers to view Geo's fibre network was a good idea. Turns out I really hadn't thought it through at all.
"There are ladders? I hate ladders!" I exclaimed earlier today as the full horror of what awaited me started to become clear.
"Errr... how did you think you were going to get down the sewer?" our guide from Thames Water asked patiently, having already had to deal with getting my (apparently) ridiculously small feet into a pair of thigh-high waterproof boots that were two sizes too big... not to mention the gloves saga.
But that was just it. I hadn't thought about it. At all. On some level I think I'd envisaged a sterile, "visitors" version of a sewer, that I would sashay into, wearing pristine safety equipment, that was somehow both stylish and reasonably flattering. I'd also imagined being armed with a notebook and a camera... and heck, possibly even a mobile phone ("hey mum, guess where I am..."). I was wrong. A notebook was out of the question (sewers are dark - who'd have imagined that?), and even the camera stayed at ground level out of harm's way.
Glossing over the descent into the sewer - because the squealing and carrying on was actually a little bit embarrassing in retrospect - we found ourselves knee-deep in murky "water", standing on a decidedly squelchy floor. That there wasn't much light was probably a good thing; what light there was clearly showed that the water we were wading through contained solids.
Fortunately, we weren't down there long. A look at a row of four cable ducts housing Geo's fibre along the side wall of the sewer, a walk of around 25 metres to the next man-hole and a quick Q&A (I really wished my companions had saved the question about rats until we were safely above ground again) and we were out of there.
Safe to say, it was the weirdest press event I've ever attended! It was quite an experience - positive or negative, I'm not yet sure - but I think in future I'll take a less hands-on approach to reporting on fibre networks!