Friday, January 23, 2009

A turn-up for the book

I arrived for my homeward journey at Waterloo and just missed a northbound Bakerloo. The next one arrived about 15 minutes later, following close behind a "not in service". By that time the platform was pretty full, there had been 4 or 5 trains southbound and we had been told by the announcer that there were minor delays on the Piccadilly. Nothing was said about the Bakerloo. Naturally the train was full and I was lucky to get one of the last seats going.

Well, this line has been pretty reliable over the past couple of years so the odd blip can be tolerated. But as we pulled into Baker Street (and by this time we were as jam packed as a very well filled jar of jam) our driver offered an heartfelt and humble apology, explaining that a defective train had caused the delay and on behalf of London Underground he was really quite sorry about it.

Makes a change. LU always sound so damn pleased when they start sounding off about "extensive delays" and "take alternative routes" that to find one of their minions taking some sort of personal responsibility for a problem is somewhat gratifying, and occasioned a fair bit of eye-brow raising and quirky smiles from my fellow passengers. Mind you, the smiles were wiped out as the very large crowd waiting on the platform began pushing on, but your correspondent had detrained by this point and was off in search of fresh adventures on the Metropolitan.

Where's the poll

The first opinion poll on this blog was wildly popular. I've tried to put up another but the web page displays the question and underneath that an error message and no list of answers for you to vote on. So what's going on Google? You are playing hard and a loose with a dangerously powerful constituency (he lied).

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A network orange

Travelling in to London this morning on an unusually crowded Bakerloo train, my eye was drawn to a young man standing near me. (I don’t like the sound of this: Ed). He was wearing a drab blue-black jacket and similar jeans and dull brown-grey shoes. But what made me look was the vivid orange laces on the shoes the only splash of colour in his outfit. (Oh I see: Ed) Like a mourner wearing a bright red tie at the funeral, they demanded attention.

Maybe he is a supporter of the Dutch football team. Perhaps he works for a well known telecoms business or is a keen follower of an Irish Protestant sect. Or, like our mourner, there is a desire to make a statement of non-conformity, or to assert self-identity.

It doesn’t matter a jot, really. But when you are stuck in a mob waiting only for the train to arrive at Oxford Circus where most people will get out, this is the sort of subject on which you ponder.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Computers - don'tcha just hate them?

It was meant to be a routine swap of a faulty tape drive in our main server at work. But when the new unit was put in, the server failed to boot up correctly. We took the new unit out and played around with the jumpers and then on boot up got a blue screen of death with an error indicating a failure of the boot disk. Great. Four hours later, after much swapping of disks and bits and pieces, running the repair program from the original installation CDs fixed the problem and I left the office a lot later than usual.

Anyway, got straight on a Bakerloo at Waterloo and my Uxbridge bound Met came within two minutes at Baker Street so I least I returned to beautiful Ruislip without the extra hassle of a bad journey. A pint of beer in JJ Moons (Twickenham ale, rather thin bodied and almost sour rather than bitter so I won't be trying that one again), a very large fish and chips (Mrs. Commuter being out at a concert) and some sense of normality was restored.

Monday, January 12, 2009

A spot of melancholy

January continues its unpleasant way with heavy rain and dull overcast skies in central London. But at least it has warmed up a bit, my pond has thawed and with luck some of our goldfish will have survived a week under the ice. They will have been in almost total darkness, eating nothing, oblivious of the world outside. Lucky them, eh? Tonight London Underground’s web site informs me that there are no Metropolitan trains running between Aldgate and Wembley Park so I must take another route home.
[update 3 hours later]
Yep, I took the Piccadilly home. The week-in, week-out problems on this line were what drove me to start this blog in the first place. Tonight was the first time in over two years that I have dared to venture back. And true to form, the first train was Heathrow, the second Heathrow, the third Northfields and then, after an unexplained gap of several minutes, during which time the electronic indicator at Acton Town (where I changed, having got on the first Heathrow in central London) could do no better than pointlessly display "westbound Piccadilly train" - I mean, duh, we knew that, that's why we were waiting on the platform, - a train to Rayners Lane.(This is a very long sentence and not all your readers will keep up with the tortured syntax: Ed) And therefore a further delay, but fortunately not too long, for a Met. As we waited the station announcer cheerily told people on the other platform that their next train had just left Uxbridge, some 15 minutes away.

So that's the first customer charter claim for 2009 well under way.
And I'm pleased to say that at least two of the goldfish have made it - I ventured into out the pitch black garden tonight, shone a torch into the depths of the pond and found two of them lazing around on the bottom midst the rotting leaves.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

2009 Year of Change

What a ghastly start to a New Year. Bloodshed in Gaza, job losses and cut backs, freezing weather, cuts to gas supplies courtesy of the Russians…and a wave of coughs colds and flu that made this commuter’s break more like a rest cure than a holiday.
Tube fares are up as well, by 8.5%. Can’t complain too much because this is the first increase for several years. But it adds to the general gloom. At least the trains were not too crowded this morning because when you are coughing and spluttering like me, the fewer people around the better.
I discovered the “gadgets” feature that Google offer to help spice up blogs – hence the wholly spurious poll at the top right. Both stations are pretty damn dull, right? Watch out for more utterly pointless polls and other time-wasting enhancements in the future (you could hardly watch out for them in the past but somehow the phrase “in the future” rounds it off nicely and I am fond of a well-crafted sentence).