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Annie Mole's, daily web log (blog) & “guide” to the London Underground
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on the London Underground.

Saturday, August 30, 2003

As predicted there were many tales in the office today about how long it had taken to get home. One of our techies thought they had won, by taking four hours, but it transpired he sat in the pub for 3 hours waiting for the tubes to get back to normal - so obviously that didn't count. I think my friend who I left work with yesterday was proably the winner as although we left together she's from the north and has no idea about London buses, so came back to the office after seeing there was nothing doing on the tube and then stayed in the office till 10.30pm - 10.45pm and left when something on the net said power was back on. That was a bit extreme and slightly "mad as ham" in my opinion and the worrying thing is that she looks after our pay and finances.

Today, there was a knock on effect and I had to wait twenty minutes for my tube this morning and then coming home late, there were no bloody District Line trains to Richmond, so got off at Turnham Green, got some chips and caught the bus. I'm beginning to catch a lot of buses these day - perhaps I should change the focus of my blog.

; Posted by annie mole Saturday, August 30, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Friday, August 29, 2003

London's power cut

Do not (I repeat) do not, ask any Londoner about their journey home this evening.

I was one of the lucky ones and actually got home in about an hour and forty minutes which was only fifty minutes longer than normal and that's because I'd heard about the power cut before I left work, so left work at about 7.40pm and got home at about 9pm. The tubes were a complete non starter for me, so I threw myself on a bus before I had any idea of the real extent of the power cut, then got off somewhere in South East London and walked three quarters of a mile to Waterloo station where luckily I got a train and more importantly a seat and after sitting for twenty minutes the train slowly left and I got to Kew Bridge, started to walk home. Then thought f**k this for a game of soldiers and hailed a cab to do the last part home.

For the full story check out
SKY news, at the time of writing this blog very few of the UK news websites seemed to have anything to report:

"Thousands were trapped in underground trains and tunnels for up to an hour when power failed at around 6.30pm.

"Hundreds of traffic lights and street lights failed and by the time the National Grid fault was corrected at 7pm, many had given up hope and were spending the evening in pubs and bars."

Masochists can check out SKY's picuture gallery.

Westminster Tube Station power cut - for more see SKY News

The BBC also reported that:

"South London was hardest hit and Transport for London said 60% of the Tube network was affected.

"Stations and trains were evacuated as commuters using the Tube were plunged into darkness and some were stuck underground as the power went off at about 1820 BST. .......

"Mayor of London Ken Livingstone said at least 250,000 people were affected and said the situation showed the need for a serious look at the National Grid and why power went down for so long."

Obviously everyone's talking about the similarities between this and the power cut in New York which only happened a couple of weeks ago. Typically as well after the heatwave we had in London, guess which night it chose to rain for the first time in ages!!!

No doubt we will hear the full extent tomorrow along with stories of woe about how long it took people to get home.

Only a few London bloggers have had the strength to report it so for, but check out the ever trusty Meg at meish.org, and Aderemi perhaps everyone else is still getting home!

; Posted by annie mole Friday, August 29, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Tube poet

Forget to say that last Friday 22nd August on the Northern Line at about 6ish (not my normal line thank God) I saw this tube poet/busker reciting a poem about commuting. He was white, quite skinny, skinhead with a strange long strand of blue hair protruding from the front.

He got on the train and said something like "Ladies and Gentleman can I have a moment of your time?" (which is tantamount to saying - "I am a tramp or a nutter and about to embarrass you") He then recited a "poem" about tube commuting which I wish to the life of me I could have remembered, but it's something like:

A is for the arseholes that we travel with everyday
B is for Bureaucracy that always makes you pay etc etc

I made the above two up, but some actual ones were:

J is for the jealousy for those that have a seat

M is for the announcer saying Mind the Gap
N is for the newspapers that are always full of crap

P is for the pervert who is staring at your crutch

He went through the whole alphabet, during which there a few smiles and then lots of shuffling as it was going on a bit too long and we wondered what he'd do at the end. When it did actually end, there was a silence, and he said "Ah come on folks - you can do better than that" - still nothing. Then he looked all hurt and stood in the corner swigging from a bottle of mineral water and got off at the next stop.

Does the poor man do this every day?

Does anyone else know the whole poem or can you fill in some of the lines?

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, August 27, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Bloggers on the tube

Yes there are other fellow bloggers on the tube. I was coming down the escalator at Piccadilly Circus this evening and spotted a man with a blogger -
blogspot logo on his record bag. I almost ran after him to shake him warmly by the hand and say "welcome fellow blogger" but then Londoner and commuter's sense took over so I just struggled to get onto the crowded tube at Piccadilly Circus, travelled one stop, got turfed out with the whole train at Green Park and then made my way home by British Rail. D'OH.
Blogger bag spotted on the London Underground

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, August 27, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Friday, August 22, 2003

Sleeping on the tube - Round 789

Very nearly missed my stop coming home tonight. Only had a few drinks with people after work - honest guv it was only three, but must have been knackered so fell asleep. Woke up to find the station looking familiar. The ten seconds to connect from my fuzzy head to my legs was just about enough to leap through the sliding doors. Perhaps I should do the trick that someone told me about which is putting your mobile phone alarm on in about the length of time you think it will take you to get home. Trouble is when you're tired/and or drunk the chances of you programming your phone alarm with the right time are very slim.

; Posted by annie mole Friday, August 22, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Dante's Inferno

OH MY GOD - was on the tube this morning with a huge party of Italians (there were ten of them). I have nothing against Italians I just have a problem with large loud gesticulating people talking at the tops of their voices and shouting "Maria", "Eh Giovanni", "Lucia" down the carriage at about 9.30 in the morning when you're just trying to come to terms with the day. Horrible thoughts came through my mind about what would happen if I got stuck in the tunnel with these people. How would I survive without killing them?

Amazingly, the person in the party who was most irritating/fascinating (apart from the one sitting next to me shouting "Eh Giovanni" down the carriage) was the woman diagonally opposite me. She was wearing an enormous pair of really black sunglasses (sunglasses worn in the tunnels of tubes is always the sign of a dubious character or someone with something to hide) and constantly fanning herself with a decorative lacy looking fan. We could have been in Venice sailing gently down canals on a gondola as she looked totally distracted and unaware of her noisy friends.

I wish I could have swapped places with her.

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, August 21, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

It' Snow joke on the tube

Regular readers of this blog will know
Mayor Ken Livingstone issued a �100,000 reward for anyone who could invent a workable solution for air conditioning on the London Underground. The tube's always has a problem of how to cool narrow tunnels - some built well over a hundred years ago and many 60 metres under London's streets. Apparently over 3,000 people from around the world sent in ideas on cooling down the tube in the recent heatwave we had. An idea from Israel which is currently getting a lot of publicity involves giant snow machines above ground. A similar idea was used to cool down gold mines in South Africa:

"The snow made at street-level would be pumped through pipes into containers placed in train tunnels or at platform entrances.

Then as trains pass through it would create air currents causing cold air from the containers to circulate and cool passengers in stations. "
said the BBC

Sounds a bit barking mad to me, and I'd quite like to know "the science bit" behind it.

A spokesman for London Underground said: "We cannot comment on specific ideas as this would prejudice them and subsequent entries."

But keep those mad ideas coming in as there's no deadline yet for submitting "cool" ideas.

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, August 19, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Monday, August 18, 2003

Kiwis discover Going Underground

Since Sunday I noticed lots of people from New Zealand visiting the main site
www.goingunderground.net, just by typing it into their browser which makes me think it may have been in a Kiwi Sunday paper this weekend. Now thanks to Leonie I discovered that the site was featured in a weekly email newsletter to all subscribers of Xtra webased email accounts. A sort of Hotmail account for Kiwis. Here's what they said:

"Going underground
You've probably heard that rainy old England just had its hottest day since records began. All very well you might think, but no fun at all if you're stuck in a sweltering tube tunnel. Just the same, many Kiwis have fond memories of the Underground and this is an excellent place to relive them. more>>"

Thanks mates and a special thanks to Leonie for forwarding the newsletter.

Wet, wet, wet

As you'll see from the weather pixie in the right hand panel underneath the links - it actually rained in London today for the first time in ages. So finally we can get back to normal blogging and not go on about how hot it is.

This morning, however, it was bright, sunny and hot and people were sitting on the big planters that have suddenly sprouted at Kew Gardens station. Most people are using them as bins too. I wonder when something will actually be planted in them as they're a bit of a security risk left empty like that and the tube went to so much trouble to introduce clear plastic rubbish bins, it seems mad to have ruddy great empty black planters around.

; Posted by annie mole Monday, August 18, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Thursday, August 14, 2003

Busking re-visited

The poor old pale busker who drones out REM's Losing My Religion was on the tube yet again tonight. You may have first met him in my blog a few weeks back. Amazingly he resulted in more spontaneous tube chat. The woman next to me to no-one in particular said:

"Oh no, not him again"

The woman next to her actually replied, "Yes I wish he's pick a different song"

The woman opposite said, "I think he does it quite well though"

I almost fainted. Not because someone thought he was good, but because a conversation of sorts had started between three complete strangers and this
simply isn't done on the tube. Particularly as they all looked completely normal and also because they were all women, but I spose that's why it happened. Sisterly comradeship on the qualities or not of our busking friend.

I still think he's pretty rubbish, despite the fact a guy a couple of seats down gave him a round of applause and some money, but then him and his girlfriend had just got back from holiday (lots of luggage, bikini tan) and then holiday man started singing the song to himself even when the busker had finished.

So if you're on the District Line, look out for this really unhealthy pasty looking, slightly flabby man with his guitar who brings the gift of conversation. For more reactions to him see my June 3rd entry.

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, August 14, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Lovely lady tube driver yesterday

Didn't have time to report back yesterday but there was a really well spoken, polite, friendly and cheerful sounding woman driver on the tube home last night. She even managed to thow in a little joke about "having a cold shower when you leave the train". She politely broke the bad news that the Piccadilly Line train was going to be diverted to Rayners Lane rather than Heathrow where it was supposed to be going. Although, this resulted in a loud "Oh for f**k's sake" from a guy standing near me.

She should take over from
Sonia as she was top. Or perhaps she was a trainee Sonia in disguise.

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, August 13, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Monday, August 11, 2003

Why does a train behind us cause delays?

Coming home this evening I was stuck at Green Park for what seemed like half an hour. OK, OK it was probably only six to eight minutes but when you are standing in a crowded carriage with hundreds of other people, when it's boiling hot, when everyone is using every single large piece of paper from handbags or spare newspapers as fans and when the driver tells you the delay is due to a train behind you..... it feels like half an hour.

The poor driver was doing his best to keep us informed with announcements every two minutes, but his was as puzzled as the rest of us as to why a train being delayed at King's Cross - several stations behind, should cause the delay at Green Park. If any engineers or Tube powers that be are reading this, can they let me and the other sweltering passengers on the Westbound Piccadilly Line train at about 5.45- 6pm know.

The driver had started out with a
favourite driver's announcement "you might find it easier to let the passengers off the train first before getting on" when I got on a Piccadilly Circus. But one stop later, with the delay at Green Park he joined commuters with the sound of frustration and "only on the tube" tone of dismay in his voice.

Hot hot hot - round 85

It's official - The Guardian tell us that it is hot enough to fry an egg on a pavement!

; Posted by annie mole Monday, August 11, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

London Underground Security Testing - Round Two

Well, we were supposed to have had one in March at Bank station, but now, possibly in an effort to re-spin Tony Blair's statment that there will be an al Qaeda backlash in response to the UK's involvement with the war, another mock terrorist attack - biological, chemical - on the tube has been announced. It's supposed to be on
Sunday 7th September and strikes me as a very good day to avoid Bank Station.

I just find it a bit suspicious that shortly after Tony Blair announces that there is a threat of terrorism from al Qaeda we get this announcement. Is it just going to make everyone think there is a very real threat of terrorism? Is it like the very public coverage of troops patrolling and protecting Heathrow airport as war was announced? (Oh yeah - where were all those weopans of mass destruction again?) As the BBC reported - exactly how real is this threat?

As a long time tube traveller, the London Underground has always been under threat of a terrorist target from a wide variety of groups. Over time there have been loads of bomb scares, evacuations, removal of suspect packages and more. Living in London you can be under threat of "terrorism" all the time. Two pubs both within 10 minutes of where I work have been bombed in the last ten years.

Most Londoners I know are extremely vigilant and the tube also do a pretty good job of responding to unattended packages. Would be interesting to know what others think?

Oh by the way - it is BLOODY HOT on the tube right now - just in case no one had realised.

; Posted by annie mole Monday, August 11, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Saturday, August 09, 2003

FRIDAY AUGUST 8th (ignore the blog date above)

Hot, hot, hot (re-visited)

Yes it's hot in London, it's hotter on the tube. More sweat, high quota of Birkenstock sandals spotted. A bit more taste in the "I'm so hot I must wear as few clothes as possible" fashionista also spotted. Large number of nice strappy tops on women. Men you're lagging behind.

Yesterday due to various heat related delays I was expected to wait twenty minutes for a Central Line train. I thought the dox matrix indicator below was a joke and waited a minute to see if the flashing lights CORRECTION would come up and waited to be re-assured with the normal five or six minute wait. Sadly there were no CORRECTIONS and no reassurance. Luckily camera was in hand to record one of the longest breaks between trains in central London I have seen.

You are seriously aving a larf mate

I got a bus instead.

; Posted by annie mole Saturday, August 09, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Friday, August 08, 2003

Stop saying your site's so Gay

I'm really loving this latest
Goingunderground namecheck. After the honour of being one of FHM's top 100 websites, today I found out that the gay community had discovered the site.

Boyz magazine (London's most widely read weekly publication for gay men) report:

"The Tube is an everyday part of many a Londoner's existence, and that's why the brilliant website at www.goingunderground.net is so fascinating. The resource is huge, and tells you everything you ever wanted to know about our subterranean transport system, and a few things you wish you didn't. For example, the peak time for Tube suicides is at 11am at King's Cross...............Okay, so some of it may be bullshit, but we love the urban myth about man-eating troglodytes living in closed Tube stations, and that one of the female automated voice announcers is called Sonia - because her voice �gets on yer nerves.� "

Going Down with Going Underground in Boyz magazine

Thanks boyz!

; Posted by annie mole Friday, August 08, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Thursday, August 07, 2003

Kids say the funniest things

Had the pleasure of sitting next the three little boys (aged about four or five) and their au pair while waiting for the tube at Kew Gardens today and overheard the following:

Boy 1: Look at that poster for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Several rousing choruses of the song Chitty Chitty Bang Bang later

Boy 2: But that man, he's not the same as the other man.

The poster was of the black performer Gary Wilmot, who's replaced the usual white performer Michael Ball. I waited with baited breath.

Boy 3: Why's he different?

Boy 1: Perhaps he's not the real man, but he's just showing the picture off.


Boy 2: Look the lights, a train is coming.

Boy 1: That light is amber.

Boy 3: Amber is green

Boy 1: No green is green

We board the train and speed off.

Boy 2: Look there's the train going by that Daddy gets to work

Boy 1: Do you know what my Daddy calls trains?

Boy 3: What?

Boy 1: Tubes. He calls them tubes.

Boys 2 and 3: Why?

Long pause as they all think about it and we approach the next station.

Boy 3: What's this station?

Boy 2: Gunnersbee

Boy 1: What?

Boy 2: That sign says "this station is called Gunnersbree".


Boy 3: You know what?

Boy 2: What?

Boy 3: You and your Daddy and Mummy are so rich. While we are so poor

Much snorting from the au pair and the rest of the carriage who can't hold in the laughter much longer. Little treasures.

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, August 07, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

How u feelin?....Hot, Hot, Hot!

If only they would - Cross track tube advertising

Top cross track tube advert spotted to day for Abbey National about the summer specials they would love to provide us if they could.

Instead all we get on the underground are the delays of 12 minutes or more. Overground lines buckling in the heat having a knock on effect on the lines underground. I was almost late for an afternoon meeting in King's Cross, and it was in an air conditioned office which was wonderful. When I stepped outside it was seriously like walking into an oven, so I bought an ice- cream, (actually Abbey National have a point why don't we get free ice cream instead of
Mayor Ken's promise of �100,000 for an air conditioning solution?), got on the tube home and was feeling remarkably smug and cool until I got about six stops down the line and was dripping with sweat again.

Love their Hot logo, reminds me of the Magpie logo

Just noticed however that according to the Evening Standard the tube have ordered loads of bottles of water - 15,000 half litres in fact: "in case commuter trains break down and become stranded. An LU spokeswoman said: 'The forecast is for very high temperatures today and we want to be ready. A stranded train could have 1,000 people on board.' The spokeswoman emphasised the water would only be handed out in an emergency."

That's nice then, so it looks like free ice creams are definitely out of the question.

The article in the Standard continues saying that "The worst conditions yesterday (5th August 2003) were in a waiting room on the platform at Hammersmith station, with temperatures up to 38.4C (101F). With a relative humidity of 55 per cent the apparent temperature was 52C (126F). The legal maximum for transporting animals is 35C (95F).

"On one crowded Circle line train at 5pm yesterday the temperature was 33.9C with a relative humidity of 65 per cent, creating an apparent temperature of 48C (119F). "

It's a heatwave.... wave goodbye to fashion

Lots of women appeared to be wearing underwear today (and nothing else), several more Birkenstock sandals spotted and loose breasted women without underwear who clearly should have been wearing some under their skimpy T shirts. More heat tomorrow forecast, and more waving goodbye to fashion sense.

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, August 06, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Hot hot hot

Although not as hot and stuffy on the tube as my journey home yesterday where I was unpleasantly glowing - ie dripping in sweat. The rails on British Rail trains are buckling in the heat, but fortunately not too many horrors on the Underground. Although I read in Metro yesterday that a train was stuck in a tunnel for about 40 minutes yesterday, luckily no one needed medical attention or suffered unduly from it. Perhaps people are taking note of the tube's "In this hot weather....." posters and are carrying water on the tube.

Birkenstock Sandals

I'm sorry, but every other person I see in London is wearing a pair. Even their
website says they can't keep up with demand.

Birkenstock Sandals - selling like hot feet

I got a pair last week on recommendation from a friend at work as they are supposed to be the most comfortable sandals ever and you won't ever wear anything else once you've put them on your feet. We both bought a white pair of the version above. My friend's badly cut her feet and mine are far from comfortable, but I'm persevering with them. Every other commuter in London can't be wrong and I want to get those dirty toe marks on the base of the sole, like everyone else, so that I know I've worn them in. Even if I end up walking around like a geisha girl I will live to tell the tale that they are the most comfortable sandals ever.

Birkenstock wearer
You are not alone right now
Don't step on my toes

Another tube haiku moment!

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, August 05, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Monday, August 04, 2003

London Underground about turn, volte face, whatever

To be perfectly honest I've really not been closely following all the PPP wranglings on the tube. Like most commuters I want a service that works, that is safe, that doesn't break down and doesn't cost a small fortune to get me from A- B or Angel to Barking, but being me I do keep an eye out for little inconsistencies in the running of the Underground. Looks like the first one concerning PPP has happened today.

One of the policies which won Metronet and Tubelines (the private companies partially responsible for running the tube) their bid was a promise that if ever major engineering was required and the tube would be closed down in places this would only happen at weekends or for the four hours when the tube was not running at night. Now, they have changed their tune, just a tad (note the irony).

Terry Morgan, chief executive of Tubelines, said: "There is a question over how we manage our programme on engineering. It may be a good idea to revisit the approach over blockades, and whether that would be a better solution for all parties involved." For the uniniated "blockades" mean closing down parts of the tube for weeks at a time - like the months it was closed down for the Central Line repairs.

Check out
The Evening Standard for the latest on this.

; Posted by annie mole Monday, August 04, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Friday, August 01, 2003

Baby Born on the Subway

OK it was in America, but on the 30th of July, Joyce Judge
gave birth in the carriage of a subway train in Boston in the rush hour and then calmly wrapped the baby in the scarf and got of the tube. People did actually let her sit down and it all seemed to go very smoothly.

Could you imagine that happpening on the tube in London? It's unlikely she'd get a seat. People would be telling her to stop screaming as they were trying to solve 12 down on their crossword. Tramps and beggers would be asking her to give them a quid for a room for the night. And the rest of the carriage would be staring at the ads pretending that nothing out of the ordinary was going on.

As far as I know only one person was ever born in a tube carriage in London and that was in 1924. She was christened Thelma Ursula Beatrice Eleanor. Source - GoingUnderground's little known tube facts

; Posted by annie mole Friday, August 01, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE