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Annie Mole's, daily web log (blog) & “guide” to the London Underground
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Friday, October 31, 2003

Ghoulish texting on the tube

Halloween on the London Underground

Happy Halloween.

; Posted by annie mole Friday, October 31, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

In the Cut - The Subway in movies

Saw the amazing film
In The Cut this evening starring Meg Ryan. Top Jane Campion film that's a thriller, sexy, erotic, funny and gripping....go and see it now! Expertly shot in Manhattan, there are many subway scenes with Meg Ryan's character (who's an English Teacher) reading quietly to herself poems from the Poetry in Motion New York City Subway ads. Actually inspired by London's Poems on the Underground, but in the film they appeared far sexier, romantic and meaningful than London's.

From the Poetry in Motion subway ad series

I'm sure the subway ads from In The Cut were specially made for the film (although the one above is from the real series), but when I left, I couldn't help comparing my journey home on the Piccadilly Line with the exciting NYC subway. The train looked as though it was going to make an endless round of stops between stops due to a delayed train ahead of us. Where was the romance?

Just before I got on the train, a man stopped to give a homeless guy and his dog some money at the platform entrance at Leicester Square. "Have a nice weekend" said the homeless bloke. A couple opposite me were asleep with their heads resting against each other. A gay couple next to them laughed and joked. Legs apart, their knees touched throughout the journey. Even when I changed to the District Line, a man sat opposite a woman with a single red rose in his hand.

Could you find love on the tube?

Mmm, what was I saying about romance being dead on the tube?

; Posted by annie mole Friday, October 31, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Dogs must be carried - Christmas Present

Saw the little "
dogs must be carried" dog again this morning, and yesterday I saw the perfect Xmas pressie for him

For the Top Tube Terrier

Then he could have this for when he leaves the tube (found from link on unmute).

Dog Umbrella for the pampered pooch

And if you were wondering why the jacket looked so familiar:

What's on your tube seats?

So now there's a real reason why the tube seat upholstery (or "moquette", to real trainspotters) will have dog hairs on it.

; Posted by annie mole Friday, October 31, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Ask Ken - brief TV glimpse

Just got back from watching Ask Ken round my friends' house. You could hardly see me on it at all in the studio audience, although Mecca in her black and white
Mind the Gap T Shirt was seen quite a few times.

It was quite weird watching it as it all seemed much more controlled that it was in reality. It was like a bun fight in reality with loads of people's arms shooting up in the air. More arguments, more rambling questions and much more lively. However I did like the opening animated title sequence featuring Mayor Ken Livingstone with his newts, Ken on the tube, Ken marching through crowds of pigeons and other versions of an animated Ken cartoon.

Really pleased they left Emma Jordan's question in about her experiences in the Chancery Lane accident, and I'll be writing the interview this weekend so hopefully we'll have something on the site next week. (See the 28th October entry below for a full report on the recording)

The Guardian spent most time focussing on safety on the tube too:

"Ken Livingstone was speaking to a studio audience of Londoners who grilled him on issues facing the capital for a programme being broadcast tonight.

"Speaking on the two serious derailments to strike London Underground in the past fortnight - at Camden Town and Hammersmith stations - Mr Livingstone warned that it may take a fatality to force the issue surrounding maintenance companies' performance.

"He criticised the 30-year contracts signed with the "usual suspects" of companies contracted to maintain London Underground, "In exchange for enormous profits they got for this, they should get the system right. They had three years preparing for it and we now find that a whole range of things that should have been done, haven't been done. They have been paid money out of our taxes and they should be doing the job they are being paid to do.".

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, October 30, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Metro Moment - 1 - Northern Line delays until March 2004

Oh joy! "A leaked email sent by a senior London Underground manager said March was the earliest that full services would be restored following the derailment 11 days." Time to get an annual subscription to
www.tuberefund.co.uk to make your compensation claims I think.

Well, it turns out that the leak wasn't that accurate as all services on the Northern Line are more or less back to normal now.

"The East Finchley to Euston section of the line was the last to reopen earlier today, and the only remaining disruption will be that trains will only run on separate branches of the line.

"Trains from Edgware will only run via Bank, and services from Mill Hill East and Barnet will only run via Charing Cross."

For more on this see This is Local London

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, October 30, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Metro Moment - 2 - Metro's Letters page

I love the letters page in Metro, it gives people licence to say anything and they often do. However one of today's letters struck home:

"So David Littlewood (Metro, Tue) suggests applauding when a train arrives safely? It should be sufficient to applaud only if the train bothers to turn up." - Keith Martin London SW17

I do remember waiting for ages for a District Line train at Baron's Court and a man at the platform at the front gave a driver a sarcastic slow hand clap when it eventually arrived. Not suggesting we all do this, but it was very funny as the man and driver's face were both pictures.

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, October 30, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Metro Moment - 3 - Celebrity marriage splits

Reading Metro over the shoulder of the woman sitting next to me which had a picture of Sadie Frost looking gorgeous after her divorce from Jude Law yesterday. "Hey Jude, you are history....." was the headline.

Sadie Frost and Jude Law divorce

You go Sadie. Sadie is 35 and is now dating a Spanish artist who is 22. I am unfortunately in the process of splitting up with Mr Mole and am a similar age to Sadie, so all 20 somethings look out - the older woman is back and she takes no prisoners (look at Demi Moore).

Other notable celebs splits this year joining me and Sadie Frost are Liza Minelli & David Gest and Ricki Lake & hubby.

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, October 30, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Gorgeous Autumnal Morning at Kew Gardens Station

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, October 30, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Oystercard - at last I know someone with one

I've been banging on for ages how I've never seen anyone using these credit card travel passes called
Oystercards which technically mean you don't have to even get your pass out of your bag or pocket to be let through the gates.

Me and a work mate had to go to an evening work thing tonight and when we got to Piccadilly Circus, she got out her Oystercard & I almost couldn't believe my eyes. Anyway, she didn't know that it would work inside her bag so we tried it out on the way home and it worked. It looked so cool to wave your bag over a little yellow thingy and for the barrier gates to open - as if by magic.

I love reports on the tube from people outside of the UK and this article in by Scarlett Pruitt (what a top name) in Singapore, is brilliant on the Oystercard:

"LONDON (10/28/2003) - The London Underground, commonly known as the Tube, can be a Darwinian place -- only the fit survive.
It's not just the cramming in the cars, the wind tunnel passageways and the imminent delays, it's also a matter of getting in and out of the turnstiles without being run over, caught or mocked. That's right -- tourists and slow learners who don't realize they need to first insert their tickets into the turnstile and then yank it out the top before the gates will open, get huffs and frustrated stares by locals stepping on their heels.
(see unofficial tube rule on swiping)

"While the Tube's overcrowding problems look unlikely to be resolved anytime soon, London transport officials are at least hoping to ease the turnstile traffic jams, (see a barrier tube rule) reduce ticket-buying queues and lessen the embarrassment of some, with the introduction of a new smart card ticketing system dubbed Oyster.......

"Londoners have not been as aggressive with Oyster card adoption as they sometimes are in Tube corridors, however. Nearly four months after its introduction passengers are gradually sampling Oyster, as many still carry the old cards. While transport staff have been trained on the new system and posters hang from some stations, Oyster has yet to come out of its shell."

I'm totally with you on this Scarlett!

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, October 29, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Northern Line partly re-opens

Well at least there's some progress. Part of the Northern Line is open again following the closure after the
Camden Town derailment 10 days ago. The Edgware branch of the Northern Line - between Golders Green and Charing Cross - is back in operation, but only with a limited service. But the East Finchley to Euston section is still closed after the crash which injured seven people. See the BBC for more on the re-opening.

By the way, keep your claims coming in if you've been affected by this. The London Underground are keeping very quiet about their Customer Charter which entitles you to your fare back if you've been delayed by more than 15 minutes and they are responsible.

Tuberefund.co.uk makes it easy for you to make these claims over the internet or even on your mobile phone. Paul Hatcher, who came up with this service, told me that yesterday one guy registered and immediately submitted 12 claims!

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, October 29, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Me and Mecca meet London's Mayor - Ken Livingstone!

What a fun evening. After much moaning at my friend Mecca Ibrahim for getting invited to the Ask Ken debate which (barring major wars, disasters and interest in Iain Duncan Smith - who?) will be broadcast on
ITV1 in the Carlton area at 7.30pm on Thursday 30th October, she managed to get an extra ticket to the recording for me.

Ticket Number 13

So we turned up at the South Bank Studios and signed into reception with other "special guests", which appeared to be a reasonable cross section of Londoners. Anoraks mixed with women in very smart suits and older women with copies of The Guardian plus some real inner city people talking about getting CCTV installed in their roads in an attempt to keep an eye on crime in their streets.

Mecca was shepherded in earlier than me as she had been primed to ask a question and then I joined in with the less privileged audience, but luckily managed to get a seat behind her.

Amazingly, there was a "warm up act" to warm us up. What a job! I've seen warm up acts for comedy shows but talking to the Mayor about transport, congestion charges and rising crime in London was not really a laughing matter, but nevertheless warm up man did a really good job.

Then Alastair Stewart, the host, came in and asked us to try to keep our questions short, and to try to say our names before we asked questions and to generally make a lot of noise of encouragement or dissent.

He recorded a promo for the programme with Ken Livingstone sitting in the background. Two versions were done, one mentioning Emmerdale (see us at 7.30 straight after Emmerdale) which somewhat belittled the seriousness of the debate, but this was ITV1 after all.

We then had the proper introduction and Ken walked in again with us having to pretend we'd never seen him before.

Ken Livingstone on the London Underground

Unfortunately, Mecca never got to ask her question. To be fair she kept putting her hand up lots of time and if you see an exasperated looking woman in a Mind the Gap T shirt in the studio audience - that's her.

However, some really interesting questions were asked. A woman sitting across the aisle from Mecca had been involved in the Chancery Lane accident in January and was asking questions about safety. An Asian lady told the awful story of her daughter who was gunned down and killed in London. People from various women's groups asked questions about rape and safety in London.

Others asked about compensation to small businesses due to loss of business caused by the congestion charging. The front row was full of older blokes and taxi driver asking awkward long winded questions and heckling ("Do you think we should bring back the birch?" asked one.) They seemed to be "professional audience debaters" as most of the crew at Carlton knew them by name.

The 45 minutes flew by and it came to the end of the show. It will be really interesting to see how much they use as the show will only be on for 25 minutes.

What time does it finish?

Mecca seemed a bit depressed that she wasn't able to ask her question, but never deterred, she started talking to the woman who had been involved in the Chancery Lane accident, dragged me over and asked if she'd mind being interviewed for GoingUnderground. The woman - Emma - was really happy to, so we all got talking as we left the studio.

"Are you coming up to the after show hospitality?", she asked. Me and Mecca, looked at each other (it was the first we had heard of it), "I don't see why not," Mecca replied so we trooped up with other privileged people to the 18th Floor of the South Bank studios to have beer, wine and sarnies and meet Ken Livingstone.

I spent time talking to Emma and her friend who is the chief reporter on the Guardian local newspaper group for Epping in Essex. He was really interested in goingunderground and this blog, so we had a good chat and he's going to send in some pictures of Emma plus some links to features she did for his papers.

In the meantime Mecca was talking to Ken Livingstone!

Could you resist this chest?

Publicity seeking hound that she is, she'd managed to catch Ken's eye by the massive "Mind The Gap" wording splashed across her chest and bold as brass she went over to him and asked him the question she was due to ask - which was basically:

"I've been on the tube and have heard drivers making announcements like "What part of Stand Clear of the Doors don't you understand" and "The Bakerloo line is running normally, so please expect delays to all destinations"." Then she told him that I'd been collecting these announcements for years and had he come across my website (he hadn't - D'OH) but true to form he came up with a funny announcement himself.

Ken's used to overcrowding and reading neighbour's paper

A driver had seen him getting on a tube and said "We'd all like to welcome Ken Livingstone to this train who is getting on carriage number five". Mecca then went on to say that it was frustrating that you sometimes got these really funny announcements but other times you heard nothing at all. So why was this?

According to Ken this is because the radio system from stations to driver's cabs is so rubbish and often takes such a long time to get through, that in most cases the drivers really don't know what is going on.

Not content with asking him that she told him about the book - One Stop Short of Barking she has just written and asked if he would be prepared to do a foreword for it. "Who's publishing it?" Ken asked. "New Holland a large general publisher who mainly publish travel books and have published loads of books on London" "When's it being published?", he continued. "Late summer/autumn next year" Mecca replied. "Mmm just when I'll be campaigning for my re-election". "Aah" Mecca said, "It's actually finished though and they will be going to proof in April 2004, so would you be able to do something by then?" Ken said yes, providing that Mecca or the publisher write something roughly for him and he will be able to personalise it and add his own touch.

So she got his business card and promised to send him something, gratefully said thanks, shook his hand and let him get mobbed by the next set of questioners.

We were truly amazed and spent the rest of the evening talking to the researchers from Carlton, the reporter from the Guardian series of local papers and other assorted people from the audience.

So although we didn't get to ask Ken a cutting question, we will shortly have an interview from someone who was on the Chancery Lane tube when it crashed. We'll be able to see there are real people behind all the stats and arguments about funding and safety and it should make an enlightening read.

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, October 28, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

More talks today to avert industrial action & strikes & leaked document

Just heard on the radio that today there will be more talks between the RMT and other rail unions and tube bosses of the private consortia over the recent safety issues, derailments and resulting delays and go slows. This will get a lot of media attention as yesterday there was leak of a report made six months ago were grave worries were issued about safety under PPP (part public privatisation).

The Guardian said:

"It has now emerged that before the introduction of the government's part privatisation of the tube, the Health and Safety Executive served an improvement notice on the network because it was unhappy with the maintenance regime. It said the standard of engineering safety breached regulations, with thousands of examples of "substantial non-compliance".

"London Underground told the HSE it could not inspect track at the required frequency "due to the lack of competent staff to perform the inspections".

"The documents, written in May, confirm that the underground deteriorated before partial privatisation in July and seem to support warnings repeatedly voiced by London's mayor, Ken Livingstone, that only luck stood between the travelling public and further serious accidents. "

Even Lynne Featherstone - Chair of the London Assembly Transport Policy Committee and part of emergency talks commented in this blog with the following:

"My own view, following the emergency summit...... I am pretty convinced that the infrastructure is delapidating and that the PPP contracts do not buy replacements or improvements fast enough.

The key concerns for me arising from the session were:

1) that the unions stated that tube staff reporting faults with equipment, track, whatever - were ignored (scary)
- outcome, Tim O'Toole (MD of London Underground and TfL tube director) committed to ensuring that this would be addressed pronto (seemed genuinely horrified himself about this)"

It is horrifying and scary. Why are the government and LU bosses ignoring safety issues on a system that carries 3 million people every day?

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, October 28, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Monday, October 27, 2003

Today's Metro Moment

It's lunchtime and now that I've calmed down over Richmond and the District Line and the rubbish Northen Line and Ken Livingstone and everything else. Metro had a column today on "Devilish Behaviour" on the tube, and one of the letters is fairly funny/worrying - particularly in light of
my recent spying and camera action:

"A word of warning to women commuters: I was on the Tube today when a well-dressed businessman moved aside so that I could sit on seat at the end of the carriage. In front of me stood a young girl in the latest fashion of short skirt and long boots. It was only as I watched the businessman fuss about with his briefcase on the floor that, to my disgust, I noticed he was taking photos with his phone up the young girl's skirt. Obviously caught out, he took two more hasty snaps and rushed off the train."

Ewww - I assure you girls I would never do anything like that and from now on I'm going to make sure I watch myself if I happen to be wearing a short skirt & boots on the tube. I've got the long boots on today but my skirt is ankle length.

; Posted by annie mole Monday, October 27, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Northern Line still closed & Ken speaks in The Londoner

Woke up to hear that the parts of the Northern Line will
still remain closed for safety checks after last weekend's derailment where seven people were injured.

Then with my morning post I received a copy of this month's The Londoner - a free paper from the Mayor and on page 3 was a letter from Ken himself, about the current state of London's transport. It echoed all the stuff that we're all familiar hearing Ken Livingstone say:

"articles in various newspapers claiming that London is facing a major deficit in its transport budget. This is completely untrue. ".....

"London needs significant new investment to allow the bus network, Tube, railways and roads to continue to accommodate the fastest growing population of any major city in Europe and to overcome the backlog of neglect caused by prolonged underfunding."....

"I do not believe the extra funds should come from Tube or bus fares because that would discourage people from using public transport and we already have the highest Tube fares in the world. Neither should the council tax be used to fund the improvement in the transport system - the other calls on council tax are already heavy enough without adding to them.".....

"I believe that the only way forward is for the government to commit more government grant to investing in London's transport system. I am not asking for gifts - I just want London to hold onto more of the �10-20 billion a year net contribution we make to the government's finances.".....

"For the government it makes sense to invest in the capital because London's growth massively assists the entire British economy. And that growth will be undermined if we don't develop the transport system to accommodate it."

We'll wait and see shall we?

I'm really pleased to have got a response to a number of issues we've been discussing on this blog from Lynne Featherstone and from Tom Watson - Labour MP - see below, but I think we would all appreciate some action now, rather than the endless discussions about funding and underfunding and who should finance it.

Fact, London's transport is underfunded.
Fact, as commuters we pay the highest public transport fares in the world.
Fact, the 140 year old system is not built to cope adequately with today's level of three million passengers everyday.
Fact, everyone's pissed off and unhappy!

End of tabloid style comments from me today and thank Christ I don't have to travel on the Northern Line today.

; Posted by annie mole Monday, October 27, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Possible closure of Richmond branch of District Line

OHMIGOD - I had been wondering why I had had a number of people coming to this blog with the search term "closure of Richmond station" and variations of this. I'd thought it was because of all the usual bloody closures we have on this branch because of over running engineering works. But no - it's because the piece of the District Line between Richmond and Turnham Green may well be closed down. Brilliant, let's just close down one of the "fastest" (term used very loosely at the moment) direct ways of getting into town for 30,000 people like me who use it every day.

"Local Greater London Assembly rep Tony Arbour, blasted Ken Livingstone for refusing to consider either running both Crossrail and District Line trains on the same track or alternatively extending the existing line to Kingston.

He said �the Mayor�s response to my proposals for improving the rail facilities of the our part of London showed his lack of awareness of the importance of the District Line to local commuters. He said that Crossrail would replace �the clapped out trains on the District Line�."

OK - the Crossrail trains are supposed to run more frequently than the District Line trains, and apprarently have double the capacity. It's going to be added hassle having to change at Turnham Green, particularly when the Piccadilly Line for reasons known only to God does not stop at Turnham Green when it could quite easily. I've lost count of the amount of times I've had to make "easy change" at Hammersmith onto the Piccadilly line and see sadistic tube drivers tantalisingly drive off just as us poor souls from the District Line trains are about to reach the doors. So we'd have this fine "game" twice a journey now.

Oh God - I feel another campaign coming on!

For more about the possible closure see

; Posted by annie mole Monday, October 27, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Tom Watson - Labour MP has replied

Just had a reply to
my October 23rd post from Tom Watson Labour MP for West Bromwich East. I had emailed him to see if he was prepared to comment, mainly because he is a prolific blogger and has an interest in transport issues.

To read his response click here.

; Posted by annie mole Sunday, October 26, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Saturday, October 25, 2003

Lynne Featherstone has replied

All credit to her, the chair of the London Assembly Transport Policy Committee and part of emergency talks which took place on Friday on the London Underground, gave us a very long reply in the comments for
October 23rd. The only problem was that it was so long, it's actually been cut off. I've emailed her to let her know, but she's away until next Thursday so she will hopefully get back then.

To read Lynne's reply - click here - as there have been replies since Lynne posted, so her message is not at the bottom.

(Update - 2nd November - Lynne has completed her reply - click here)

Anyway, thanks so much to all of you for your comments and help in spreading the word to your friends, & publicising on your own blogs, and all I can say is keep the comments coming, because now that we have Lynne's attention with this blog I can keep her informed of your comments and questions and we'll start getting some answers.

; Posted by annie mole Saturday, October 25, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Northern Line "Amusing" Driver Announcements

You may have received an email originating from my main site which was a special of the drivers' announcements from the beleagured Northern Line. So if the closure of parts of the Northern Line affects you, spare a thought for the drivers and station assistants and have a look at this
Northern Line special of overheard drivers announcements - thanks to tubeprune for saving me the trouble of putting them online somewhere!

Please note these announcements were collected before the derailment in case anyone thinks they are currently making light of the situation.

; Posted by annie mole Saturday, October 25, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Friday, October 24, 2003

Tube staff decide upon industrial action today

Well the tube bosses have apparently got until noon today to decide what they're going to do about safety issues on the tube, otherwise the RMT union are going to ballot to go on strike or go on go-slows.

According to the

"The RMT, which opposed the privatisation of Tube maintenance, says track inspections have been reduced, threatening the safety of staff and passengers.

Union members met Tube managers at an emergency session of the London Assembly's transport committee on Thursday.

But although London Underground (LU) managing director Tim O'Toole (top name) told the committee safety procedures would have to be changed, the unions were not satisfied.

Speaking after the meeting Pat Sikorski, from the RMT, told BBC London: "We didn't get any assurances today that we would return to 24-hour inspections of every foot of LU track."

Lynne Featherstone who is chair of the London Assembly Transport Policy Committee was at these emergency talks and yesterday I emailed her (see below) to see if she would be prepared to comment on this blog. She emailed back to say yes, so let's hope she manages to reply.

Please continue to add your comments to the comments box for yesterday, so that she can see and hopefully address your views. Many thanks to everyone who has added comments so far, I really appreciate it.

When you see a picture of the carriage that hit the wall in the derailment at Camden it's amazing and incredibly lucky that more than seven people weren't injured. Something simply has to be done and I'm totally behind the industrial action to draw more attention, action and funding to this issue.

Damaged carriage in derailment at Camden Town London Underground

For more on the possible industrial action check out the various reports in Google News.

; Posted by annie mole Friday, October 24, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Beyond a joke - 5

Took me an extra forty minutes to get into work today because the District Line has a broken rail between Gunnersbury and Turnham Green. At Kew Gardens a completely garbled and incomprehensible high pitched message came over the tannoy that only dogs could understand. Me and a load of of people who'd already been waiting ten minutes walked to the woman to find out what was going on. So the situation was explained but there was a tube going into Richmond and we could pick up British Rail from there to get into town.

Which we did. Although it was pretty chaotic at Richmond with normal tube commuters struggling to make sense out of the British Rail timetable and delays on this section too. I asked one of the staff which one of the two delayed trains out of Richmond would get to Waterloo fastest, and woman behind me (carrying
Middlesex - what is it about this book), rolled her eyes in sympathy & appreciation.

I picked the one that was supposed to arrive earlier and typically it became a British Snail train and crawled into Waterloo, stopping between stops and I watched the one that left later, speed past me at Putney.

Fortunately no further delays at Waterloo and me and a guy who gets on at Kew Gardens (who has very, very good hair, and I've now discovered is Scottish as he was chatting to a woman on the British Snail train), managed to both end up at Piccadilly Circus at the same time.

; Posted by annie mole Friday, October 24, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Email to Lynne Featherstone

Right, enough moaning it's time for action. I've emailed
Lynne Featherstone, Councillor, Haringey Council and more importanly, chair of the
London Assembly Transport Policy Committee and part of emergency talks taking place today on the London Underground.

Dear Lynne

Please, please, please help us with the recent problems on the London Underground, I heard you on the radio this morning and I know that you are asking the Mayor about safety and number of important issues regarding the tube since its part privatisation.

I have been running a popular site about the London underground for five years now - www.goingunderground.net. This year I added a blog as a companion piece where I record my daily commute into London (trying to have a sense of humour about it) www.london-underground.blogspot.com

This blog has now overtaken my main site in popularity and over recent weeks has got a number four or five position in Google when people search for the term London Underground and many variants , so consequently it's been getting a lot of public attention.

I've posted my email to you on it today and I would be really grateful if you could reply to me or make a comment in the comments area on the blog itself

Many thanks


Let's see if she responds and if other people make a comment or email her too, perhaps it will make you feel better if nothing else. Must go now as I have to leave loads earlier than normal due to all the problems.

STOP PRESS - Just received an email from Lynne who is happy to make a comment to the blog, but she can't log on right now and hopefully will reply tomorrow, so keep those comments coming.

STOP, STOP PRESS - Lynne has replied!

STOP, STOP, STOP PRESS - Tom Watson Labour MP has replied!

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, October 23, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Beyond a joke

OK guys it's only been a few days of Northern Line disruptions (see my previous entries for the whole week so far) and I've had enough. The tube Gods and fairies are conspiring against me. Normally I do not have to use the Misery Line as it is known to all, but yet again, I'm going to have to use it, as the District Line is screwed up (suspended) between
Richmond and Turnham Green (Late finish of engineering works at Richmond apparently) and I have a morning meeting in King's Cross today.

So my options are - walk to Kew Bridge or Mortlake and get a train into Waterloo and get on the Northern Line to King's Cross.

Walk to Kew Bridge and get an overcrowded bus to Hammersmith where I'll get on the Metropolitan & City Line to King's Cross or the Piccadilly Line to King's Cross.

Decisions, decisions, what a great start to the day.

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, October 23, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Asking for trouble on the tube

My first nasty incident on the London Underground since doing this blog, but fortunately years of tube travel put me in good stead to cope with it.

I got on the Piccadilly Line after a great night out seeing
Cyberjam with a friend (don't believe the reviews about why there are free tickets, it was really good fun). At Knightsbridge three really loud Northern blokes got on and one holding the door open for his late and bladdered mate - who'd obviously been doing some late night shopping at Harrods.

They then proceeded to do that "what are you looking at" stuff to my end of the carriage and one guy in particular who decided to sit opposite me was really agressive, blowing raspberries (how childish) and giving the whole carriage the finger. So I and the four people around me said nothing, stared ahead and hoped they'd shut up. They didn't. The bloke opposite with an eyebrow stud said "Aaaargh" a lot, continued to blow raspberries and gave the finger right into people's faces.

As my ex-husband would say, they were "asking for trouble" and he probably would have belted them. It was an occasion when part of me wished he had been with me, for safety, he's a big guy, and another part was glad he wasn't as I know he would have hit one of them.

We got to the next stop, South Kensington, and the four people around me legged off the tube, to a chorus of "Big Bum" to one of the fleeing women from Eyebrow Stud.

"You f**king cowards" I thought, "There is no way all of you would have normally got off there". So I was left by myself with the drunks and thought, "You bastards are not driving me off the train".

Amazingly with less of an audience they quietened down. "Is this the right track love", said Eyebrow Stud to me. Paramount Tube rule - ignore everyone around you. Do not say anything. Do not make eye contact. Do not get out a book. Do not do anything to give him the chance to make a comment. Look at an area above his head and focus on it. Very much like this lady and Tony Blair. It worked. Fortunately they got off at Gloucester Road and I breathed a sigh of relief. Phew.

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, October 22, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Celebrity Spotting or Stalking on the London Underground

Many thanks to
Simon Waldman - Director of Digital Publishing for Guardian Newspapers who mentioned my celebrity spot/ stalk of Rageh Omaar in his personal blog today - Quick Links, top left.

If my stalk somehow gets back to The Scud Stud, I hope he takes it in good humour. Personally I have nothing against red fleeces and you looked great in it Rageh, very much the "bullet dodging dreamboat" that you are. I'll buy all your books when you publish them, please, please, don't sue me.

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, October 22, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Victoria and Northern Line delays, delays, delays

I don't have to travel on the Northern Line today, thank God, but the poor old Piccadilly line driver on my train today must have given the same announcements about the closure of the line and
delays on the Victoria Line many, many times. I managed to record his most tired one on my camera. I particularly like the end where he says: "Do not change onto the Victoria Line at Green Park, you will only be disappointed".

When I got to work I got an email from the friend I bumped into on Monday about her "worst ever journey" today:

"I bet you'll be innundated with tube stuff today. I have been late both mornings due to the Northern Line and got a telling off yesterday, so set off extra early this morning.

Lift to Finsbury Park, waited for 3 tubes before I could get on the Victoria Line then we were stuck in the tunnel outside King's Cross for 20 minutes without light and air and with a driver that didn't seem to be able to construct a sentence. Lots of people having panic attacks and fainting. So I swapped to the Circle Line which didn't go further than Aldgate. Which resulted in me having to get a cab from Moorgate and still being late.

I can't stand another journey on the tube!


At last I have a Googlewhack - to the uniniated a Googlewhack is when you put two words in Google.com, - no inverted commas cos that's cheating apparently - and only one result comes up, so if you put

oystercard jehovah

in Google you get this site and nothing else. (Update - 26th October - Bollox - it's no longer a Googlewhack as there's another entry there now)

As you can see it's harder than you'd think to get your site in this position and probably pointless too, unless you are Dave Gorman and you can get a hit comedy show and a book deal out of it.

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, October 22, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Shaving Minutes off your London Underground Journey

Had a fit this morning when I got into work and I discovered I had forgetten I was supposed to be seeing a client at 11 o'clock. I was looking particularly fetching in a hooded fleece and combat trousers (not my normal 'going to see client' clothes), but thought Jeesus, I need to knock up a quick PowerPoint presentation and then get over to Old Street pretty sharpish. Why oh, why do I have to spend so much time on the Northern Line these days?

So I followed the lessons on my main site - got out the trusty
Way Out Tube Map to make sure I got on the best carriage to get off for the exit. Then stood by the "Mind The Gap" floor signs so I would be right in front of the doors when they opened.

Success - despite the Northern line driver (I think) being one of the ones on the unofficial go slow in protest of the fears over safety - I got to the meeting only fifteen minutes late.

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, October 21, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Monday, October 20, 2003

Coincidences & luck

Today ended up being a weird and fortunate day tube wise.

In the way you only can in London with 3 million people travelling on the tube each day, I bumped into the friend that I was supposed to have been meeting on Friday night at an interchange at Angel station. I was only there on the beleagured Northern Line because of starting my post grad course (see below). She was only there, because of the beleagured Northern Line and having to change at Angel after getting the bus replacement service.

Took lots of pictures which may be used for my friend's book of Bank station looking as crowded as normal despite the media trying to scare everyone into thinking the tube is unsafe after the weekend's accidents.

Then, finally on the way home, earlier than normal because of my course, I heard a really good busker on the tube and amazingly gave him some money. I normally hate the ones who patrol the carriages as you have no choice but to listen and this guy started off in a really odd way by asking if we wanted to hear an original or a cover version. Of course no one replied, so he did an "original" which was actually very good.

At the end of his song he asked again, "original or cover" and again met with complete silence, so did a Bob Marley cover of "Three Little Birds", which was again very, very good. He then slouched through the carriage with his cup and must have got a fair amount of money as although we were all silent, a good fifth of the carriage gave him money.

As he moved down the carriage with his guitar slung across his back, I saw it was plastered with a massive red and white sticker in classic London Underground Johnston font - "No busking - penalty �200".

Busker with a sense of humour

; Posted by annie mole Monday, October 20, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Northern Line - not called the Misery Line for nothing

After yesterday's derailment and accident at Camden Town, the Northern Line looks like it might be closed for a while in parts. Currently its closed between Euston and East Finchley and between Golders Green and Charing Cross. (suppsosedly
real time travel alerts from The London Underground).

Major investigations are on the way following the accidents and threats of industrial action by tube staff. Capital Radio are running a survey asking people to text a message to 83958 to say whether they still feel the tube is safe.

And me, I was thinking "Mmmm - what's the Piccadilly Line going to be like today after Friday, aha, I start a postgrad course at City University today so don't need to use it on Monday. But, which station do I need, oh right, Angel on the Northern Line.....aaargh". Fortunately it doesn't appear to be on a bit of the line that is closed, but we'll see. Maybe time to look at Tube Refund pretty soon as I'm sure loads of other people will be delayed and now we've got a quick and easy way of getting compensation under the Customer Charter. And as you can claim through this site or by mobile phoone for free until 1st November - we're sorted.

; Posted by annie mole Monday, October 20, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Another tube derailment - this time at Camden

What the hell is going on? Only on
Friday night there was a derailment between Hammersmith and Baron's Court. Now I've just learnt there has been another London Underground train derailed at Camden Town and this time seven people were injured.

From the BBC:

"One carriage hit a wall at Camden Town station in north London. It happened as three carriages of the northbound Northern Line train came off the tracks as the train pulled into the platform just after 10am on Sunday. Five injured people are described as walking wounded, but one person has a broken leg. "

All the latest news on this from various online sources at Google News.

There is definitely going to have to be a major investigation now. Two derailments in less than 48 hours is totally unacceptable.

It looks like there may be some strikes as a result of this, and for once, rightly so:

"The leader of the country's biggest rail union has threatened industrial action unless maintenance contracts given to private companies earlier this year were immediately suspended in the wake of the weekend accidents.

Bob Crow, general secretary of the Rail Maritime and Transport Union, said: "If the Mayor of London, Transport Commissioner or the Government do not take action to suspend these contracts, then I shall be recommending to my executives and to the other rail unions on London Underground that we ballot to take strike action to defend the safety of our members and the travelling public." - read more from ITV's report.

; Posted by annie mole Sunday, October 19, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Saturday, October 18, 2003

Piccadilly Line train derailment

Just listening to the radio while blogging to learn that a Piccadilly Line tube has been de-railed at Hammersmith at 9.25pm on Friday. As regular readers of this blog know, I get the Piccadilly Line train from Hammersmith every day, so feeling quite freaky that I could have been on it. I was due to have gone out this evening and my friend had to cancel at the last minute. I would have certainly faced the knock on effect of the line being closed when I rolled out of the pub.

Fortunately, no one was hurt as the train appeared to be going slowly.

According to the

A London Underground spokesman: "There was a very low speed derailment on a Piccadilly Line train.

"There were no reported injuries. As far as we understand at this time only the last wheels on the last carriage came off.

"We don't know the cause of the derailment. There will be a full investigation."

How this will affect the Piccadilly Line, we'll have to wait and see. The derailment and crash on the Central Line in January caused actual injuries to 32 passengers and then months of havoc on the line itself as large proportions of the line remained closed. The tube paid millions in compensation to passengers whose journeys were totally screwed up.

Apparently part of the track at Piccadilly in that area was badly rusted and then snapped. Good job, as I travel on this part of the line every working day.

In the light of the recent report about passenger overcrowding only issued two days ago (see my blog entry) the London Underground is certainly going to be in the spotlight again.

This is the first accident to happen since the tube was privatised so it's clear there's going to be a major investigation here and rightly so.

For more on the derailment see the various reports from Google News.

; Posted by annie mole Saturday, October 18, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Victor Lewis-Smith Savages Tube Nerd

And it's not me, before you ask.

On Friday, the TV columnist in The Evening Standard reviewed a programme
Metroland: Race Around the Underground which followed Geoff Marshall in his quest to beat the world record for travelling around every tube station in London in less than 19 hours, 18 minutes and 45 seconds. Now if you know Victor Lewis Smith you know he is just going to slag off the programme,

"Wherever there are trains, there are nerds, but this programme introduced us to a new and more virulent strain: the Super Nerd."

I never saw the programme myself so I can't tell whether his comments about the production are justified:

"the programme transmogrified into a televisual version of Mornington Crescent, with Geoff rushing nimbly from Knightsbridge to Sloane Square, while congratulating himself on the shrewdness of his sideways manoeuvre. But despite his claims of exceptional speed, what we saw mostly involved him sitting still and eating sandwiches, and the inaction wasn't improved by the dismally obvious choice of music, with The Jam's Going Underground giving way to The New Vaudeville Band as we approached Finchley Central.

More clich�d still were the speeded-up Koyaanisqatsi-style people-as-ants montages (complete with Philip Glass process music) that most documentary makers stopped inflicting on us a decade ago, and as the world record attempt neared its anticlimax, I suddenly realised what was wrong with the entire venture. Unlike most sportsmen nowadays, these boys didn't take drugs, but to make this futile journey tolerable, drugs were precisely what was needed. Not for them, but for the viewers."

Classic Lewis-Smith.

I'm not sure how Geoff feels about all this. We have been in touch in the past and we've swapped links, had the odd email, that's it. He seems a pleasant enough bloke from these exchanges and I'm not sure he takes it as entirely seriously as Lewis-Smith makes out.

This tube challenge has also been made into a very funny lads novel called Tunnel Vision (check out my interview with its author Keith Lowe) and I think anyone who does this sort of stuff knows they're setting themselves up for a certain amount of ridicule or certainly the label of "trainspotter".

I'll see if Geoff is prepared to comment.

; Posted by annie mole Saturday, October 18, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Friday, October 17, 2003

Scud Stud Celeb Spot

After not seeing any celebs on the tube this year, until seeing
John Hannah from tube flick Sliding Doors last week, today, someone got on at Gunnersbury tube station who looked remarkably like BBC War Correspondent Rageh Omaar also known as the Scud Stud. As I was sitting opposite a Poppy Appeal advertisement that featured him this was a weird co-incidence (see middle bottom row in the picture below).

Rageh Omaar Poppy Appeal London Underground Ad

"It can't be Rageh Omaar", I think as the guy stands next to me against the glass partition that I'm sitting against. I look down at his bag and he has one of those credit card style luggage tags on it and even though it was the wrong way round I could see the name said "Rageh Omaar"

So I took a picture of the bag (like you do) and was just too close to him to take a picture without making it obvious to his mate, who was facing me, that that was what I was doing.

Rageh Omaar's foot & bag

After a few stops he moved over to the middle of the carriage and was nearer the Poppy Appeal poster he was on, at which point my bloody camera decided it was low on batteries. Fortunately I had another set on me so changed them as quickly as I could and do have a picture of Rageh Omaar but from the angle I took it, it could be have been any guy in a red fleece.

Believe it or not this is Rageh Omaar

Confirmation of Rageh was provided when his friend got off at Hammersmith with me and said, "See ya Rageh" and then the whole carriage was suddenly alerted to the fact that we were travelling with The Scud Stud ("branded 'eye candy' by his jealous peers" - The Observer). He certainly didn't look 35 either.

OK the pictures are up now and you can see Rageh above in a red fleece (does he only ever wear red fleeces?). The Iraqi War shot him from being a little known reporter, to being the BBC's next David Dimbleby. Even Viz the UK's cult comic dedicated an issue to "Britain's best-loved bullet-dodging dreamboat". He's even on best selling T Shirts in Che Guevara style.

He's secured a book deal "reportedly worth �850,000 with options abroad, for two books. Revolution Day, to be published in March 2004, will be about his experience of reporting on Iraq before, during and after war, drawing from diaries he kept in Baghdad.

"A second book, due in late 2005 or early 2006, will be a more personal take on Somalia - where he was born to wealthy parents who sent him to be educated in England - and the impact of war on his family."

Certainly puts my mate's book about the tube - One Stop Short of Barking into context! If only she could get a deal like that I'd be laughing, as I'm helping her research it in return for a share of royalties.

; Posted by annie mole Friday, October 17, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Trauma on the London Underground?

I've been in two minds about whether to report on the
recent report by the House of Commons - Overcrowding on Public Transport. Up until now I couldn't be arsed. But thanks to a discussion taking place on Clear Blue Skies I thought I would.

The report says that commuters face "daily trauma" and travel in "intolerable conditions", really, I'd never noticed!

Travellers found their journeys "not simply uncomfortable, but positively frightening". Extreme in my opinion.

To me "trauma" is something you can't live with and literally takes over your every waking hour or at least for more than a couple of hours spent commuting on the tube.

Tube travel is indeed a pain in the arse and the overcrowding is unaccaptable, but it always has been and is unlikely to change. It's not "traumatic" every day or tantamount to a "personal tragedy", that's simply sensationalism.

Amazingly I'm with The Star on this

"Something called the Commons Transport Committee has arrived at the conclusion that trains are overcrowded.....

"And the point to note in indelible ink is one delivered by Gwyneth Dunwoody, the committee's chairman, who says: "Overcrowding is not an act of God."

"So there you are. It is official.

"Sadly, accidents are acts of the divine one, as are over-inflated hikes in ticket prices, the existence of the smarmy work-shy loafers in the peaked cap operating at work-to-rule pace and John Prescott's Jaguars.

"If you don't want to take our word for it, you can ask God yourself, care of Mr T Blair on Platform 10."

All of these news reports are interesting in itself I spose, so I realised that I talked myself into blogging it. Particularly when my journey home on the District Line section was unusually overcrowded. I wasn't traumatised when I got home and by the time I had walked for two minutes I had forgotten about it.

If this report means something will be done about overcrowding great, but there have been reports like this ever since 1884, and the underground is still overcrowded.

The most notable/interesting/funny of all of these reports to me was one in 1936 where W J Kelley, Labour MP for Rochdale, said: �Young girls and men are crowded in such a way that the question of decency even comes up�.

; Posted by annie mole Friday, October 17, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Everyone's still reading Middlesex

Another picture of the woman pictured on Wednesday reading

The thing this demonstrates is that tube travel is almost as bad as rail travel when it comes to people getting on in the same carriage each day and sitting in the same seat. Me and this woman obviously travel at the same time and deliberately get on at the front carriage of the train as it's the nearest one to the exit for when we get off (well it is for me and the excellent Way Out Tube Map will show you which carriage to get on to best get off, so to speak)

Still in the middle of Middlesex

; Posted by annie mole Friday, October 17, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Guardian British Blog Awards 2003

The opening for these awards has just been announced and I will enter - not sure under which category yet, although probably specialist - as I passed being under 18 more than 18 years ago, my photography's not wonderful, design is worse, and best written...mmm. there's so many other blogs which are better written than mine I wouldn't know where to start. Anyway if anyone with a blog reading this wants to enter, you have until the 21st November. Good luck??? - do I mean that?

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, October 16, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Everyone's reading Middlesex

I still get a kick from seeing people reading the
same book on the tube and it happens more often that you would think. Not including the "adults" that are reading the latest Harry Potter brick (sorry - I can't see the appeal they have to anyone who's over 16 years old), but I often see people in the same carriage reading Haruki Murakami or Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones. I have also seen a lot of people reading Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, so was delighted to see a woman sitting next to me and a woman sitting opposite me both reading it today.

I feel like winking and nudging them in a "nudge, nudge, wink, wink" way, but they'd think I was a psycho.

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, October 15, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Reading over people's shoulders

Classic piece of
London Underground etiquette, basically, don't do it, it makes you look like a cheapskate.

This morning spotted the following ad for the Evening Standard:

Evening Standard London Underground Ad

Closely followed by a person reading a copy of Metro (published by Associated Newspapers, the publishers of the Standard), over someone's shoulder.

Reading Metro over someone's shoulder

Weird huh?

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, October 15, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

PS I am not a terrorist or am I?

Not about my journey but I received the following email from a yahoo.co.uk account today:


I'm in the process of writing a book which includes the possibility of a terrorist attack between Embankment and Waterloo. I was wondering if you know how probable it is that a bomb could go off under the River Thames and flood the entire tube network?

If you could get back to me with any info that you've got on the structure of the tube, and what's protecting it from being flooded by The Thames, I'd be very grateful.

Many thanks

(I've not shown the person's name)

P.S I am not a terrorist.

I got back to the person and told them that I couldn't help. a) because just by saying you're not a terrorist doesn't mean you are not a terrorist, and b) because I have no idea and haven't got the time to spend on researching someone else's book for them (other than what I'm already doing for
One Stop Short of Barking).

I also said to the person that if they write to the London Underground with a similar email to the one they sent me, they won't get a positive response either.

It must be tricky doing this sort of research because anyone is likely to be highly suspicious of their motives, so unless you are really famous - like crime writer Barbara Vine (Ruth Rendall) whose excellent book King Solomon's Carpet did involve a terrorist plot to bomb the underground, you're not going to have much luck.

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, October 15, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Life is not always overcast on the tube

Coming home, it was a good journey. But good in the real sense of good. I'm not going to get all religious, but it was one of those evenings when you see total strangers doing things and think perhaps the world doesn't suck.

First off I went down into the bowels of Piccadilly Circus and a whole group of school boys were coming up and the sheer look of excitement on their faces as they hit the open air and saw all the bustle of London and the bright lights of the giant animated McDonalds and Coca Cola advertising was amazing. "Wow", they said, just "Wow".

Hardened old commuter like me and millions of others see this everyday and the only thing I normally think is "God those ads are getting bloody bright, why don't we just get McDonalds to sponsor street lighting and it would save us a fortune in council tax".

Then onto the tube itself and a woman was throwing pennies at people on the train. First I thought she knew the girls she was throwing them at, but she didn't. There was nothing malicious in it, she was just deciding to give away some of her spare change.

Next the guy sitting next to me eating some
Cadbury's Dairy Milk from a vending machine, asked the guy opposite if he could have a copy of Metro that was on the little ledge behind his back. "Sure" the guy replied and gave it to him. Guy sitting next to me said to him "Would you like a piece of chocolate?", Metro guy didn't, but again I thought, how sweet.

Then, penny woman, who we shall call Penny, sat down when the girls had left and like the "mild tube nutter" yesterday, proceeded to quietly talk to herself whilst going through some documents on her lap. I'm not sure what it is about the Piccadilly Line, but why is everyone rehearsing for plays, presentations, speeches or whatever? Anyway Penny just made me stifle my laughter as, with not a care in the world and oblivious of the rest of the carriage, she spent the next fifteen minutes animatedly having this inner presentation complete with hand gestures until I got off to change at Baron's Court.

All very surreal and as Dave on Clear Blue Skies says "Because Life is not Always Overcast".

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, October 14, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Monday, October 13, 2003

Rehearsal on the tube

I was either sitting opposite a mild tube nutter this morning or someone who was practising his lines from a play. It was quite funny if the latter as this guy sat opposite me, had a document on his lap and was just talking quietly to himself.

He didn't have the usual signs of a nutter - stained T shirt or dishevelled clothing, his eyes didn't seem too stary and he was talking quite quietly rather than screaming "Mind the Doors" then laughing manically like a woman on the train last week.

But you never know, he could have been one of the most scariest tube nutters yet, those ones that lull you in to a false sense of security by looking surprsingly normal and yet undernearth it all a 100% nutter keeping it all in the bounds of normality waiting to break out.

; Posted by annie mole Monday, October 13, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tube Etiquette Sign 2

Following on from
The Cartoonist locating a sign on the Tokyo subway trying to stop men from sitting with their legs apart, Peter from Sweden who signed my guestbook found the following sign from India reminding people not to grope women.

Indian sign about  groping

I'm pretty speechless on this one. Particularly because of the feline looking "animal" protruding from the woman's nether regions. Thanks for sharing this with us Peter. Truly bizarre.

Perhaps London Underground should get a bit more inventive with their signs and symbols too.

; Posted by annie mole Monday, October 13, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Saturday, October 11, 2003

Beer Goggles again last night

This London Underground advertisement sums it up quite nicely

London Underground ad not extolling the virtues of being drunk on the tube

; Posted by annie mole Saturday, October 11, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Thursday, October 09, 2003


I've been doing this blog for almost ten months now and I think today is the only day this year that I've seen a celebrity on the tube. My main site has always had a
section on celebrity spotting on the tube and over the years loads of people have sent me their spots, ranging from Anne Robinson and Ian Hislop to Frank Carson and Amma out of Big Brother 2.

Today I had a top tube spot and didn't notice him till I left the train at Richmond to discover he was in the same carriage as me, also getting out at Richmond. It was the actor John Hannah, he out of Four Weddings and a Funeral, who also played Scottish detective Inspector Rebus on TV, BUT most notably and relevantly starred in the top tube film Sliding Doors with Gwyneth Paltrow. To see a guy on a train who is possibly most famous for being in a film about travelling on the tube was really, really freaky.

Gwynnie and Johnny in Sliding Doors

The other thing that tends to freak me out about seeing actors in the flesh is how short a lot of them are. I got the impression that Gwyneth Paltrow was quite tall, so assumed John Hannah was too, as she didn't seem to tower over him in the film, but he's quite short for a bloke, I'm not sure if he's even six foot.

Not seen on the tube but walked past Paul McGann (who played the most recent Doctor Who and was I in the cult film Withnail and I) today in Poland Street who I had a major crush on in my youth. He was singing to himself walking down the street which I thought was quite sweet.

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, October 09, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Zbornak reminded me that it's National Poetry day, so in honour here is a tube haiku from Jag

Lonely newspaper:
Grab it like hungry vulture!
I want that Metro!

For more London Underground haiku's - click here.

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, October 09, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Strike ballot due to sacking of Tube Driver seen leaving gym

I must admit that I laughed when I heard this on the radio this morning, not because someone was sacked. But because of what they were sacked for. A tube driver was seen leaving a squash club when he was off sick with an ankle injury. No idea that the London Underground had so many spies around, so goodness knows who "grassed him up", although apparently he'd been told by his doctor that increasing the amount of exercise he did would actually improve his ankle.

This sacking has badly backfired on the LU as there's now going to be a ballot to go on strike in protest of his dismissal.

Bob Crow RMT leader said: "Once more London Underground is scraping the barrel in finding a pretext to sack a union activist."

For more on this check out
Personnel Today.

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, October 08, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

But why did you buy a child ticket, Madam?

Was what I heard two station assistants saying to a woman when I left Piccadilly Circus this morning. Well I'd have thought it was pretty obvious - she was about four feet six tall so I'm sure would have passed as a child to a sleepy station assistant who would have heard the gate beep, looked across, saw someone short and thought "Ah, child".

The woman in question was actually in her late forties though and I was going through the gates as I heard the "dispute" so couldn't be arsed to hang around to see what the outcome was.

I imagine station assistants will be super alert and "looking" out for the beeps more often as apparently the Oystercard sets off a beep when you use it. Just for the record I still haven't seen anyone using one although last night I sat opposite a woman who had one.

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, October 08, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Deliriously Happy Driver speaks

Following on from
Friday's entry - Richie the very funny driver from the Jubilee Line has been back in touch to say that he's happy for me to quote his email.

Richie tells the story more succintly than me, so over to him:

"I had recieved a phone call from my colleague a train operator at Wembley Park depot on the Jubilee line. He told me that he had heard my rather over the top announcements on this web site. I of course immediately went online and have to say I'm for once speechless. That could be a first for me. In case you're wondering I'm the guy you've taped and called the really really top train operator. I'm glad and I know the majority of passengers enjoy the odd banter or five and just to confirm I am sane not on drugs, generally happy and smiling and that's not wind. There is lots more to come maybe even the Friday night request ride announcing birthdays etc for those who wish. Maybe even tonight when I start at 5.00pm. Catch me if you can.

A big cheers!

How top, so if you want to hear Richie in all his glory click here and hopefully he will team up with Nik Fox to bring us some more of his excellent announcements.

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, October 07, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Threat of another tube strike

Just when we thought we'd got away with a year of no tube strikes it looks like there may be another one in the offing.

The Evening Standard reported:

"The dispute dates back to last year when Ken Livingstone "bought off "the unions hours before strike action halted the network by promising them more money when he became mayor.

"Union leaders accepted a three per cent pay rise and returned to work. Mr Livingstone appointed a mediator - Professor Frank Burchill - who has recommended an extra .75 per cent......

"The two private consortia, Metronet and Tube Lines, which took over maintenance and improvement of the Underground earlier this year, are refusing to backdate the pay to last year........

"Both Metronet and Tube Lines say they will pay the new rates - including the extra recommended by Professor Burchill - but only from the time they took over. "

This dispute effects some 6,500 staff who are under the private consortia's employ and not London Underground.

Bob Crow leader of the main railway union the RMT, said: "London Underground has paid their staff the 16 months back pay owing on the deal. Now it is up to Metronet and Tube Lines to pay what is owed to 6,500 workers handed over to the private sector since the deal was made."

Watch this space for more news of the strike.

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, October 07, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Distances between tube stations

One thing I did forget to mention in yesterday's interview was the fact that the tube map bears little relation to how far stations are from each other in reality (although this
unofficial geographical tube map does).

You see loads of tourists doing a journey of one stop between Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus when it is far, far quicker to walk. Also in relation to yesterday when we passed through Bank on the Central Line I should have referred to the oft quoted Bill Bryson quote:

"As Bill Bryson pointed out in his book Notes From a Small Island, an out-of-town visitor using Mr.Beck's map (Harry Beck designed the tube map in 1931) to get from, say, Bank Station to Mansion House would quite understandably board a Central Line train to Liverpool Street, transfer to the Circle Line and continue for another five stops to Mansion House and emerge 200 yards down the street from where he started."

Diamond Geezer has done some research and found some interesting other ones:

� Bayswater to Queensway (220 metres apart) - 14 minutes via Circle and Central lines
� Regents Park to Great Portland Street (220 metres apart) - 17 minutes via Bakerloo and Circle lines
� Euston to Euston Square (300 metres apart) - 22 minutes via Victoria and Circle lines
� St Pauls to Mansion House (400 metres apart) - 25 minutes via Bank/Monument

For more see here.

Also thanks to Diamond Geezer I've discovered a tube map which shows the walkways - it's an excellent idea and thanks to rodcorp for getting it up and running.

Anyone from London Underground reading this, why not make an official one?

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, October 07, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Monday, October 06, 2003

German Radio Interview today

Travelled from the West to the East of the Central Line commenting on stations and life on the tube for a German Radio programme due to be broadcast on 15th November for the national German station
Deutschlandfunk in their Saturday morning show - 'Gesichter Europas' - roughly translated as "Faces of Europe". This programme will be called "The Tube, die Londoner U Bahn. Geschichten aus dem Untergrund (or Stories from Underground)".

We covered a hell of a lot of ground, pigeons, etiquette, ghosts, lost stations, poetry on the underground, art, mosaics, large gaps, the Queen, cockneys, city commuters, overcrowding, air conditioning and drivers' announcements.

My section will end up being heavily edited as it's only an hour long show and the interviewer also spent an evening with a Leicester Square busker, a tube driver and will also be with a station controller.

It was all good fun and it was far less stressful than the last radio interview I did on an actual train itself (with BBC Radio London), probably cos it was a Sunday and probably because the interviewer was far less obtrusive and basically allowing me to do most of the talking.

Watch this space for a streaming of the show in November.

And before you ask.....no I can't speak German, my voice will be dubbed over, so you'll hear me in the background with a German voice over the top.

; Posted by annie mole Monday, October 06, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Saturday, October 04, 2003

Oh no - Weather Pixie has her winter coat on - it's getting cold (see below text links on the right)

; Posted by annie mole Saturday, October 04, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Friday, October 03, 2003

It's a small world on the internet

Truly bizarrely, the driver who made the
mad announcements on the Jubilee Line found out about this site and sent me an email to say that he was delighted about it and wasn't mad or insane but just like to brighten up people's days. I'm hoping he'll let me get some more "deliriously happy" recordings.

Even more bizarrely, the wife of one of the drivers is saying word is spreading about the site on the whole of the Jubilee Line and all the drivers will be checking it out. See Jackie's guestbook entry on the 4th October. So welcome to all Jubilee Line drivers and keep us smiling on the tube.

Big thanks again to Nik Fox who made the original recording and sent it in.

Oyster Card - does anyone use it?

I travel into one of the busiest stations on the tube network, Piccadilly Circus - and have never seen one person swiping their Oyster Card travelcard over the little thingy on the barrier ("thingy" is a technical term for the things that have been near the tube barriers since 2002 and no one originally had a clue what they were for and still don't really know now).

Even the staff at Charing Cross station were paying lip service to the thingies by telling people to use the thingies at the next gate. As the barrier pictured below was thingyless.

Oyster card - who uses it?

; Posted by annie mole Friday, October 03, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Dogs must be carried

Saw the excellent "dogs must be carried" tube dog being carried on the escalator again today. He's the cutest thing ever and just looks like a toy dog.

Featuring the dogs must be carried dog

I'm afraid it still gives me some amusement to see the "Dogs must be carried" sign at the bottom of escalators as I do think that there will be a number of confused tourists wondering where they're going to get a dog so that they can travel up the escalator.

Dogs must be carried

; Posted by annie mole Friday, October 03, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

24 hour London Underground service.....getting nearer?

Mmmm we may be nearer to getting a 24 hour tube service but only cos of London's bid to host the Olympics in 2012. Today's
Evening Standard said:

"Bid promoters say they desperately need a 24-hour service to carry an estimated 200,000 extra public transport users across the capital during the games.

"But the Mayor - who has long wanted trains to run all night, at least at weekends - faces obstacles to London Underground running a full 24-hour service........

"Cynthia Hay, of passenger pressure group Capital Transport, said: "If 24-hour operation can be used to entice the Olympics, why can't it be done before that?"

Very true.

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, October 01, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Read this Blog translated by Snoop Doggy Dogg

If you want to get a bit jiggy wi it an ting. Get you mutha over to dis link and get wi da
London Underground blog as written by my homey Snoop.

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, October 01, 2003 Permalink COMMENT HERE