Monday, November 29, 2004

Another Monday

Monday Morning. I have an important meeting and need to be in Hammersmith by 9:00. I arrive at Ruislip Manor before 8:20. A Met line arrives and I travel to Rayners Lane. And guess what - there is a major problem at Rayners Lane and they say that there is a highly restricted Piccadilly service, and the platform is so crowded that the staff are asking people to move along. And then the staff advise people to use the Met line. But they wait until the train I was on has pulled out so I have to get the next one, which is more than 10 minutes later.

And I get to Hammersmith eventually, the long way round via Baker Street (but must admit the Hammersmith & City Train came promptly) and wait for a bus and get to my meeting more than 30 minutes late.

Olympic bid? Just say no. Stuff the athletes and the TV fat cats. Put the money into the basic maintenance that the system desparately needs.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

The Ruislip Ripper

It's eight thirty in the morning. My train draws in (yes, on time, credit where it is due). A group of exuberant schoolkids run out. I step in. The carriage is full of torn and ripped up shreds of newspapers and crisp packets.

Now this train cannot have been in service for that long today, (and I assume it was cleaned last night) yet already it is strewn with litter.

So is there a mysterious maniac deriving strange thrills from the evisceration of newsprint? Or are today's kids a highly anti-social and moronic bunch who should be out earning a living rather than wasting their time doing media studies? Are there any other possibilities? Perhaps, but nothing comes to mind right now.

Time for a sandwich, methinks, as it is after 1pm and this has been an exciting morning, involving the purchase over the internet of a television/vcr/dvd for the office.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

A short delay on the Piccadilly Line

- Or, what to do when nothing happens

It's a classic dilemma. The train halts in the middle of nowhere*. A long lingering silence settles slowly (good alliteration there, what?). At first everyone continues reading, staring out of the window, fingering mobiles etc. Then after about two minutes someone looks up uneasily. No-one else seems bothered so they resume their previous activity. Then someone else looks about. After about five minutes several heads move as one and the atmosphere in the carriage changes- we all now are wondering what the delay is and how long we are to be stuck here, and we each know that everyone else is thinking the same.

This makes us all feel much happier because we are not alone in our belief that really the train should be in motion. So there is a lessening of the tension. Or there would be except that about this time we start to wonder why the driver has said nothing over the intercom. I always ponder what would happen if he had lost consciousness - maybe even died. The train would stay halted due to the safety system but how long before someone would check? The radios are faulty often enough for a period of radio silence not necessarily to cause any alarm bells at the Line Controller's office.

Mobiles are a great comfort. At least you can listen to people calling their offices to explain that they are a) stuck on a train and b) they don't know how long it will be.

Today's delay was only a few minutes but it was fairly typical.
*actually it was near Ealing Common but in a cutting with anonymous houses on both sides. Could have been almost anywhere in London.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Avoiding death on the walk to work

My daily journey from underground station to work requires a crossing of the A4 near Hammersmith. This is one of the busiest roads in London. It is only safe, indeed only possible (because of barriers), to cross at traffic lights. Where I cross, there is no left turn for oncoming traffic. Safe? Nope.

Yesterday a car swerved left and turned into the A4,ignoring the "No Left Turn" signs and the green pedestrian lights. I was close enough to touch it and had to dodge out of his way. Today I was a few yards from another. These guys are no different to attempted murderers. They ignore the lights and people crossing. They just assume that people will get out of their way while they make their illegal move. Now if we had instant fines for violaters, and a policman with a camera sat himself down at that junction each morning, he could make a very tasty sum indeed. How about it Mr. Blunkett? A nice little earner and leading to a reduction in dangerous driving.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Greetings my friends*

What better way to relieve the tedium of commuting into Central London from beautiful Ruislip than by regularly sharing my thoughts with the world?

So here we go.

Assuming I bother to keep this updated, then you will encounter rants and raves about unhelpful announcements, ignored time-tables, litter-strewing fellow passengers and the iniquities of that body dedicated to the success of the motor-car known as London Underground.

This is one word that drives me mad. You fight your way into a crowded station entrance and there is a board listing the tube lines with a single phrase against each - either Good Service or Delays. Now I think I get what they mean by "Good service". There are just enough trains running to keep the platforms clear and nobody is likely to be seriously delayed. But what does it mean to say "Delays?". Suppose I have just missed a train. How long must I wait for the next? I don't know, it doesn't say. Should I travel by an alternative? I don't know, it is impossible to work out whether to go for a slower journey than normal or risk hanging out for who knows how long. Now presumably the LU staff who write up the noticeboards think they are doing us a favour. They are not. They are merely causing fear and uncertainty. I don't want to know that there are delays. I want to know when the next train is so I can decide whether or not to take it. Aha, you say, surely there are electronic indicators to tell me. No, I scornfully reply, not at the station from which I commence my nightly journey home.

I fear this is one topic to which a return is inevitable but let us leave it here for the moment. Better things await us, including a welcome cup of tea as reward for having begun my first Blog. Farewell, gentle reader, until we meet again.


To be spoken in the manner of "Criswell" introducing the legendary shlock movie "Plan Nine from Outer Space".