Tuesday, November 29, 2005

A close encounter (of the unpleasant kind)

I was walking briskly in the chilling night air down Hammersmith Road, as is my wont, on my way home. A young man, rather casually dressed for the cold, somewhat unshaven with straggly long hair, stopped me. Did I know the nearest takeaway? I pointed back toward North End Road but before I could extol the delights of the various greasy spoons on that dismal thoroughfare he launched into a bitter and vitriolic attack on the area. Why were there no takeaways? Why was this area such crap?. Shepherd’s Bush [just a mile north west of us, gentle reader] was so much better. I asked him to stop shouting at me. He apologised and then immediately went on about unfair it was and how tired he was and how fed up he was with Hammersmith.

So I shrugged and walked on. Another nutter? Off his head on an illegal substance? Starving and light-headed? I dunno. I really don’t see why I should take personal responsibility for the unfriendly streets around Olympia. So I won’t.

An on a lighter note, this evening was the 7th night in a row that my Piccadilly train terminated at Rayners Lane. In theory a third do so, a third go to Ruislip and a third to Uxbridge. Each night there has been a Ruislip train close behind. So what are the odds on that happening? I have been leaving my office at the same time each night. Does it mean the trains are – GASP – actually running to time? What is the world coming to?

Saturday, November 19, 2005

One year on

Happy birthday. This site was born on 18 November 2004. Just one year ago I first began spouting forth. I wrote “…assuming I bother to keep this updated…”. Well, I have. And intend to go on so doing. Thank you and have a good day

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

A mid-month catch up

Nearly two weeks since my last missive. The weather has turned colder and the leaves are falling, many of them into my pond. No reports of trains unexpectedly delayed by leaves on the line but there’s plenty of time. The Piccadilly has been reasonable and I’ve only submitted one Customer Charter claim, more through exasperation than because of a serious delay. They announced that a good service was operating and simultaneously turned an Uxbridge train round at Acton Town without apology or explanation. This used to happen more often than it does now but it still grates, because they normally do it when there are already gaps in the service and therefore they create an even longer gap for those of us travelling out of London and going beyond Rayners Lane.

Anyway the latest scare is bird flu. Nice piece in the Guardian pointing out that “experts” always predict millions of deaths from any new disease and it rarely turns out that way. This however does not make me feel better when sitting next to someone who is sneezing. In a crowded tube carriage you cannot choose your neighbours and you must, perforce, inhale the air expelled those around you.


And now the big pre-Christmas question. Should I finally invest in an mp3 player to help while away the dull hours pacing up and down cold and deserted platforms (some exaggeration here: Ed) No, Ed, it certainly feels like hours, it’s alright for you nit-picking my finely chiselled prose from your warm office. But we digress. I’ve got loads of radio recordings, so much more soothing and rewarding for listening in a confined space than music. It’s the headphones that put me off. I’ve tried a radio (yes I know the reception on trains is appalling) and the little ear buds kept falling out. More research is needed. But I fancy a Creative Zen 20gb micro – capable of holding all my radio stuff plus music CDs and best of all it’s not an ipod. I shall go have a good look at Ebay and report back when there are developments.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Wither Halloween (I hope)

Into November and the curse of Halloween seems to be wearing off. <northern voice on> When I were a lad, we had no truck with these faked up Yankee commercial junkets <back to normal rather posh sounding standard English accent> no, we had Guy Fawkes night to look forward to and there was excitement from the moment the first fireworks appeared in the local newsagents. Pocket money was saved, window displays drooled over, leaves gathered and old clothes for a guy begged. October 31 meant nothing at all to us.

Then in recent years thanks to the impact of American TV and the ghastly supermarket marketing campaigns (Sainsburys – buy scary veg, uggh) designed to shift pumpkins, a food nobody eats and nobody likes, coupled with the realisation by kids that this was another way to get money from strangers, not to mention the implicit threat of violence behind “trick or treat”, one has begun to dread the knock on the door at night on Halloween. At least carol singers announce their presence first and don’t demand money with menaces (not in Ruislip anyway, we are much too genteel for doorstep thuggery from men in cassocks).

This year however, we were visited only by four small children, shepherded by an adult (and at such an early hour I was not even home, so thanks to Mrs Commuter for this report). Perhaps people are getting bored with it. The origins of Halloween lie of course both in pagan and medieval Christian practices and are not as alien as may appear, but the Americanisation of it really does irritate. The original idea that on All Hallows Eve one may commune with the dead is a fairly spooky idea but this has been lost in a mush of confusion about witches and vampires and those sodding pumpkins. Not that Nov 5th has retained much of its original meaning, the spontaneous lighting of fires by Londoners when the news about the foiling of the gunpowder plot was announced. Now it is just an excuse for fireworks and fires, but bonfires are so apt at this time of the year, especially with the darker evenings as the clocks go back, that it works and has an enduring appeal.