Thursday, September 30, 2010

You know what I mean, like

Between Eastcote and Ruislip Manor on the Metropolitan Line is a short journey, perhaps 2 minutes. This evening I sat next to two young people on this final leg of my journey home. During this brief interlude the young man, who discoursed pretty much all of the time, uttered the word "like" no less than eleven times throughout his conversation. At no time did the word add any content to what he was saying. Perhaps he was unconscious of using it, perhaps he uses it deliberately to avoid saying "err", or "you know". Or maybe he lives in a world full of simile, a world where every person and experience must always be compared to something else through the ubiquitous "like".

You may wonder why I bothered to count the offending syllable.[You're right: Ed]. Well, I had just failed to complete the game of Battleships in a copy of the Evening Standard some kind fellow commuter had left by my seat and I had a bet with myself that he would reach 10 "likes" before I left the train. I lost.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Noise pollution

I don't like Akio Morita, the Sony top man who, if he did not invent the Walkman idea, certainly was responsible for bringing it to market. He sold this prototype for the mp3 player/mobile phone with earbud style headphones and the sod did not think to ensure that these things worked without creating noise for the rest of us.

This morning I got on my usual train and found a young man adjacent listening to a melange of high pitched percussion and drums. After a couple of stops he left. Another young man took his place and he too was blaring out some wretched mind-numbing 4-4 beat "music". So I did what I rarely do, nudged him and asked him to turn it down. And he did. And got off at the next station, so all my psyching myself up to do the unthinkable and actually speak to another commuter was in vain. But at least we had an undisturbed journey then on in and I continued reading my absorbing but very demanding 650 page study of the European political and strategic crisis years 1801-5.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Reflections on a strike

The tube unions were on strike yesterday. They oppose plans to reduce the number of staff in ticket offices.  I suspect they have a point but as usual their tactics hit their customers and alienate them. I had plenty of work that was suitable to do at home so home was where I stayed, checking the tube website departure boards from time to time in a form of schadenfreude. The next strike is due in a month and I will do the same (although some trains did run on the Met and Bakerloo so it may be feasible to get into work anyway).

Working from home is a strange feeling. With the broadband connection, email and document sharing works just like being in the office but there is no buzz or backchat, nobody offering to make tea and always a slightly guilty feeling that one is not at one’s proper desk. Never mind all that, I managed to do what I had set out to do, and redesigned the code behind a couple of reports in our accounts system as a bonus.Coming to work this morning as usual, there was a nice comedy of manners. A man was slumped in one of the front seats, head right over on his knees, snoring gently from time to time. He was not visible from the doors so people kept boarding, moving swiftly up to what seemed like an empty seat, then recoiling as they encountered the slumbering form. But nobody bothered to wake him or to sit beside him (he may have been drunk and reeking of alcohol; I didn’t get close enough to find out). I wonder how far he went or whether he was woken on arrival back at his departure point

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Summer fizzles out

August ended pleasantly, but cool. No heatwave. No thunderstorms. Days of grey cloud and the odd bright afternoon. Odd. I really thought that we would get a scorcher this year.  And the Met put up a feeble effort too. The LU website showed all clear as I left my office last night. I got to Baker Street and heard an announcement that due to a "passenger taken ill on  a train at Barbican" we were advised to use the Jubbly to go north west. So I did and it was very slow and then there was a wait at Wembley Park (boo) and the indicator board said the incoming train was for Uxbridge (cheers) but the train header said Watford (boo) then it waited while several drivers and a couple of signalmen held an impromptu conference (boo) then they announced it was going to Uxbridge (cheers) then we waited again for no apparent reason and at last we left. Result, the 16 mile journey home took 1:25. Oh, and of course there were only "minor " delays according to the line announcers.

Now we all know that "taken ill" means dead, and "on a train" probably means "under it" but why oh why do they have to cancel trains and take them out of service ( I saw several running empty southbound into the Neasden depot)?  Why can't they turn them all round at Baker Street with its 4 (count them, 4) available platforms?

So I'm putting in my customer refund claim (cheers) and we shall see if LU pay up (even more cheers) or not (sullen silence broken by angry mutterings).