A year ago I was writing about the big freeze. It had been uncommonly cold since the end of November. On 18th of December a blizzard shut the UK's airports. A couple of days later the ice was still thick on the platforms at Neasden where I was forced to detrain. Ah, but that was a year ago. Today we bask in temperatures close to double figures (Celsius). It promises to be a sunny warm Christmas. Manufacturers of thermal underwear are gloomily contemplating the long drop from their top floor windows. Drivers of ice-cream vans are whistling while they polish up the giant plastic cones with which they are adorned (the vans, the vans, ok?). Thomas Cook closes high street branches because, let's face it, why go abroad for winter sunshine when you can swelter in beautiful Ruislip without the risk of earthquake/ferry disaster/tsunami/wildfires/collapse of local economy/violent overthrow of dictator/insert your choice of calamity here, there's been plenty to choose from in 2011.
They've brought in a new timetable for the Metropolitan Line. As far as I can tell this now means having clusters of Uxbridges and then Watfords, with fast Cheshams in between. The changes have produced much debate on the District Dave site but this commuter has yet to see much difference. There are rumours that the introduction of the new "S" stock trains has slowed. This could mean that the dear old "A" stock continues to provide much of the service well into 2012. In which year I will mark a full 50 years of travelling on them, because, dear reader, I started regular train travel in September 1962 as a bare-kneed, cap-wearing schoolboy shuttling between Preston Road and Northwood Hills. There cannot be many forms of transport that have provided a half-century of continuous service. Or indeed people who have used them over that period. Maybe I shall receive some sort of long-service award [I expect something can be arranged: Ed]