Monday, October 26, 2009

Falling leaves

Don't be misled by the title of this piece. Usually at this time the Met comes to a halt with the age-old excuse of "leaves on the line". Autumn is in full swing and the leaves were falling freely in beautiful Ruislip all weekend but no delays appear to have interfered with this morning's service. My normal train is now making a regular stop at Neasden to let a driver off, which it never used to do, but otherwise came in and arrived on time.

So does this mean that the programme of cutting back trees overhanging the lines, and perhaps use of the special train that cleans up the track, has fixed this problem? Good news, if confirmed. Let's have as much greenery as possible but not on the railway please.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Electrical Detectives

Travelling on the tube forces a daily acquaintance with adverts. You can't help but read them, especially when displayed on huge posters on platform walls that you are standing by. One such today appears to be promoting a book, probably a thriller, and has the huge headline "Bosch is back".

Leaving aside the strange concept that the advertiser thinks I may be concerned that this particular fictional character has, in some literary sense, been away, my mind inevitably linked this no doubt worthy hero with the much better known German manufacturer of high grade domestic electrical goods. And, just as inevitably, I began musing on possible follow ups to this gripping series, all of them featuring a tough loner who is not afraid to bend the rules, who lives on the edge and who is motivated by a desire for justice that overrides the corrupt politicians and policemen...well, you get the picture. So stand by for Inspector Electrolux of the Liechtenstein police and Nevada's downbeat private eye Bendix Hoover (he doesn't give a dam) whilst France's super-cool detective makes his entrance in the Casebook of Hercule Frigidaire. Cheeky cub reporter Ken Wood, Italian sex bomb Candy Zanussi and supercilious, duelling-scarred villain Count Indesit Ariston de Dietrich may also feature.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Parallel worlds

No problem on the Bakerloo this morning. I came down the steps at Baker Street, saw one leave and the next arrived within two minutes, with another indicated a couple of minutes behind. Arrived promptly at Waterloo. As I left the station, although a normal pattern was shown on the electronic arrivals board, they were announcing "Severe delays on the Bakerloo" and had handwritten the same message on the noticeboard at the top of the escalators.

I briefly considered advising a station attendant and rejected this idea as being futile and certain to cause frustration. After all, I am only a passenger customer and will be treated as though as I know nothing. Bitter experience you see. So I kept schtum and left.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A visitor from Oz

The wicked witch of the Met writes
On last night's, crowded as usual, Bakerloo train up to Baker Street, I became aware that a woman standing near me was having problems working out where she was. Her accent betrayed her as American. A gentlemen nearby offered to help and showed her where to change for her intended destination of Harrow. They got chatting and as neither bothered to keep their voices down, everyone around them could listen in. "And where are you from?" he asked, perhaps identifying her unusual mid-west twang. "Kansas city" was the answer.

I had to bite hard on the pen I was using to fill in my regular "Codewords" puzzle book that keeps me welcome company on these journeys. For without this essential oral distraction I would surely have announced for all to hear "You're not in Kansas anymore Dorothy".

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

A game of chance

It’s an odd feeling to be going resolutely against the tide. This morning I took my usual train to Baker Street but as I descended the stairs toward the Bakerloo line I was aware of far more people than normal coming up the other way. As I reached the bottom an announcement informed me that there were “severe delays on the Bakerloo line due to signal failure”. (It’s always signal failure, unless you get the very rare but always intriguing “passenger action”).
My escape route in this particular case is to take the Jubilee which runs conveniently parallel to the Bakerloo all the way to my destination of Waterloo. So I continued on to the Bakerloo platform from where there is easy access to the Jubilee avoiding the worst of the crowds. There was a train at the platform with a few determined passengers sitting still whilst others continued to detrain. The platform announcer told us that we could board if we wished but we might be in for a long wait. It always pays to keep an eye on the signals and, as I reached the end of the platform where there is a short tunnel to the Jubilee, I saw the light turn green. I boarded the train at once. The announcer also noticed it and opined that though the train might shortly depart, it would be slow and we would be taking a gamble.
I took the gamble (staking possible holdups against the certainty of a jam-packed Jubbly) and stayed put. We left almost at once with the train nearly empty. There was no delay at all and we proceeded at normal speed to Waterloo, the train staying blissfully devoid of crush because everyone was undoubtedly packing into the trains just ahead of us. As I left the station they were still repeating the mantra of “severe delays”. Well, not for this particular commuter there weren’t.