Sunday, June 30, 2013

The real summer

Forget my earlier, weather-related, posts. This is the real thing. Not just a day of perfect sunshine but it is actually hot (or at least good and warm). And the Tour de France to boot, so just as one was about to spend the day in the garden, one spends it instead on the sofa indoors with the telly. And one has every prospect of repeating same for most of the week, with commuting into the sticky and sweltering capital a remote prospect.

Not only that, but next week is the Ruislip Manor Fun Day, the key event on the social calendar in these parts. The council have taken up and relaid the perfectly serviceable pavements in preparation. All Ruislip holds its breath. Your correspondent will (probably) be there and there may be a full report of proceedings on this very site. Or (and here's a cunning plan), I could send my literary collaborator, assistant and dare I say it, friend, to cover the story for me. [Sorry, I'm having tea with my aunt. Ed:]. OK, down to me then. We shall see how I feel on the day.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The main event

Continuing the commuting theme from yesterday, and why not, since this used to be the raison d'etre of this blog, let me update you with today's little unpleasantness on the Metropolitan. A morning journey to my client in Farringdon was marred by delays caused by a broken water main in the Finchley Road area.  This meant a slow journey with plenty of stops between stations, sometimes enlivened by the utterly pointless recorded announcement "This train is being held at a red signal and should be moving shortly", followed by the utterly inane "Stand by for further announcements". You know, when you are on a train, there is not a lot you can do other than await the next announcement, unless you have the mp3 player on at a decent volume.

Anyway we got there in the end, and at least as our Baker Street bound train reached Harrow there was an Aldgate on the adjacent platform, with the driver actually watching those of us who crossed to it (sometimes they keep their eyes rigidly ahead and move off whether or not passengers are in-transit and most frustrating it can be). So it was a seat for the journey rather than standing on a crowded Central Line from Baker, and for this small mercy let us be grateful.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Bodies on the track

Quite like old times on the Met today. I had to travel from beautiful Ruislip to Finchley Road, pursuing certain thespian-related activities which do not need to concern us right now. The eastbound train failed to stop at Harrow-on-the-Hill. We were told this was due to a body on the track and that there was no service from the Watford branch between Northwood and Northwick Park. Quite why that was the case, I could not establish. I would have thought that if my train could run normally, other than moving straight through at Harrow, so could the Watford branch trains.

Oddly for such an incident there were people on the platforms as well as LU staff, but no sign of anything untoward, so presumably it had happened, and been cleared up, some time ago.

On the return journey, which started with a fast Amersham, things became much worse. After some unexplained slowness around Neasden we arrrived at Harrow and I crossed to await an Uxbridge. It pulled in, loads of passengers got aboard, glad to be out of the heat on what was one of the warmest days this year, and we sat there. And waited. Eventually we were told that the power was off and nobody knew when it would come back on, and this related to a trespasser on the track in the Wembley area. Great. Hundreds of us left the station in search of an alternative. In my case I joined an eager throng in the bus garage trying to board a 114. The driver seemed keen that nobody should board. He shepherded a few who had made it to the top deck out of his vehicle and then did mysterious things with the control panel.

 After a few minutes another 114 pulled in and we filled it to capacity. Thanks are due to that driver who did not object to people sitting on the stairs. Then we tried to pull away from the garage but could not because buses trying to pull into it from the main road were blocking us in. Our driver tooted his horn a few times (and what an effete sound they make) and somewhat grudgingly, as it seemed, the offenders moved out of our way and we proceeded, the long way round, to South Harrow where the Piccadilly came to the rescue for those of us travelling further west.

I haven't had to take the bus, nor indeed to grace the portals of South Harrow station, for a long time. There was a time...but you don't want to hear my reminiscences [Spot on. Ed:]. You can trawl through the posts from 2004-6 if this turns you on. I'm going to get a suitably cold beverage, fill up the peanut bowl and settle down for tonight's Apprentice.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Why, oh why...(number 3 in a series of at least 3) the placement of the ads on Youtube so utterly naff? I go to view some footage of a car driving simulation (a very impressive piece of software). I am greeted by an ad showing a young couple in a kitchen and on the soundtrack a gentleman who probably sings with a popular beat combo domiciled in the North American region begins to sing something that begins "Oh baby".

Youtube knows who I am. I signed in. It knows the sort of videos I watch, mainly vintage TV comedies and various film clips. It knows perfectly well that I am not interested in products marketed by people who sing "oh baby", even if the next phrase contains the words "luurve", "maybe" or "eldritch" [not sure about that last word: Ed]. Yet they go on screening them. And I turn off the sound and as soon as possible click to end the ad, usually well before I have the least idea what they are trying to sell.

So an ad utterly wasted, several seconds of my valuable time utterly wasted, frustration all round. Although the bloke with the nappies obsession presumably got paid for his efforts.

Update a few hours later: Now they are screening a L'Oreal ad (yes, I did listen long enough to catch the product name). And who buys this product? Ladies. Does Youtube think I am a lady? It's part of Google, they know who I am.  So why do they choose to stream this ad at me? [I take that is a rhetorical question, right?: Ed]

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

A hot steamy bath

Back from a few nights in England's only city that is a World Heritage site. And although your correspondent was there to do as little as possible, Mrs. Commuter was working hard on behalf of the early music ensemble that she administrates. They played in the Roman Bath where the opera Dido and Aeneas was staged whilst the steam curled up from the waters and two millennia of Roman stonework looked down, and followed that up with concerts at St. Mary's Bathwick and in the Assembly Rooms. We had torrential rain on the journey down from beautiful Ruislip, and most of the next two days followed by brilliant sunshine for the remainder.

The joy of Bath is in its size - large enough to contain plenty to see but small enough to make it easy to get around on foot. Our car was parked on arrival and not used again until the morning that we left.

And so back to a little commuting. This time last year everyone was panicking about the Olympics, with a wave of Government-sponsored hysteria about how jammed the trains were going to be, and how terrible it would be to get about London and how anyone with any sense had already left town [with thanks to B. Dylan: Ed]. No such sense of imminent doom now, just the long awaited summer now finally happening and the pleasurable anticipation of some decent cricket against the Aussies.