Friday, November 21, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
In short, there is no obvious conclusion to the conundrum so there let it remain.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
To match the awful weather the underground put in an awful performance. Arriving at Baker Street for the Metropolitan in the evening I found near-blank indicators and huge numbers milling about on the platforms. No staff to be seen and no announcements to be heard. Having dimly heard something about “minor delays” whilst enroute, I decided to try another route and took the Bakerloo back to Oxford Circus to take the Central home. Once more huge crowds jammed the westbound platform entrance. A suitable train appeared and another was signalled just behind. I stayed back and let the crowds surge on. No sooner had the train gone then the one behind vanished from the indicators. I took the next anyway, waited at North Acton hoping at least to get a seat and found when a Ruislip bound train eventually turned up that it was full. Finally, having reached Northolt we were unceremoniously turfed out so that the train could turn round there, and there was a final 5 minute wait for the train behind.
Signal failure at Finchley Road and a security alert at Bank were the reasons cited for 35 minutes added to the normal journey time.
Moral – better to have gone out at Baker Street and had a drink. Sadly the pub that used to be inside the station is long gone. A commercial opportunity missed, one may conclude.
On another note altogether, Mrs Commuter and I enjoyed a post-concert dinner at St Pancras station the other night. The restaurant, Carluccios, has an open section on the Eurostar platform so that one has the the glorious ironwork roof above one’s head and the statue of Betjeman (back to us) not far away. Even the constant whine of the diesel engines made for a suitable auditory backdrop, given the setting. What commuter could ask for more?
Friday, November 07, 2008
There is a sense of similiarity with Tony Blair’s victory in 1997. A tired and discredited administration fell to a young and untried, but enthusiastic and charismatic, challenger free of much of his party’s historic baggage. Of course in 1997 John Major was standing for re-election whereas John McCain tried to put distance between himself and George W. Bush but it was not enough.
So will Obama live up to the massive weight of expectations? Of course not. Much as I disliked the late Enoch Powell, his quote “all political lives, unless they are cut-off in midstream at a happy juncture, end in failure” will surely apply. What Obama may be able to do is point the US in a different direction, away from confrontation and first use of force, and change the kneejerk hostililty of much of the world into a readiness to listen. He doesn’t look like a typical hard-faced, shoot first and ask questions later, anyone who is not for us is our enemy, white¸ American. Until he starts acting like one, this will count for much.
By the way, sorry about the pretentious title for this piece. But it got your attention, didn't it?
Monday, November 03, 2008
After my little rant last week, Friday's journeys to and from work were fine and this morning's started out ok too until on arrival (by reasonably punctual Met) at Baker Street we were told that the Bakerloo was suspended due to a person under a train at Oxford Circus. Meaning to go south, but wishing to avoid the crowds, I took the escalator that leads to the northbound platforms then cut across to the Jubilee southbound by devious means feeling like a character in Colossal Cave* - "you see a maze of twisty little passages". They had gone so far as to close the gates leading to the Bakerloo and when I peeked through I saw a train with its lights out waiting forlornly on the deserted platform.
No sooner on the Jubilee than we are told of delays due to a passenger taken ill at Canning Town. I love the way they enrich the details by telling you where the problem is, as if that makes the slightest difference - I don't give a toss where it takes place, I want to know how long the delays are going to be - but I suppose just being in Canning Town must be enough to make most people sick, and was it named after the moderately famous nineteenth century politician or did they do a lot of food processing there? anyway, where was I, oh yes, the pleasure of standing in a full train wondering when it might depart. Having crawled down to Bond Street, the driver told us that the problem was sorted and we gradually reverted to normal speed. Let us see what the rest of the week has in store.
Update: At 5:30pm there are now delays on the Central Line with someone under a train at Bethnal Green. What is going on? What's wrong with jumping off Tower Bridge - you get a much better view and there's a good chance the river police will rescue you and then you get a nice cup of tea.
* a venerable computer game, the archetype for the now-obsolete genre text adventure