Darren from timemachinego (another of my regulars) who apparently was having a bit of a crisis about his blog. My friend Agent Moon was trying to discourage this in her usual animated & enthusiastic fashion.
Stuart from hydragenic, was chatting with Agent Moon and Darren, and I had a very, very brief chat with him as he left.
Rich and Taz from funjunkie, plus a really nice guy with curly hair a la Alan Davies whose name I didn't catch (if someone can fill in the gaps for me). Had a really top conversation with these guys about blogging in general, whether it was commercial or becoming more commercial, Alicia Keys' blog which is apparently mad, the Guardian Awards (D'OH we weren't supposed to be talking about them), the Guardian's report of the party, funjunkie's "purpose", the "purpose" of blogging in general, progressive rock, meeting bloggers in the flesh and acting as though you knew them (which you do in a very, very weird way) and tons of other great stuff.
Some of the bloggers also partying, who I read regularly but I didn't get to speak to (which I'm really sorry about) were Gert, Greenfairy, Meg and Dave from acerbia and Pix from pixeldiva.
Rich you just must organise something like this again, so I can get to speak to everyone.
It was bizarrely one of those parties where you have never met the people but you get there and you just have loads and loads to talk about. So very pleased I went and now back to nursing my hangover.
Oh, here comes the tube bit. Left the party at some time way, way after midnight, so got the very last tube into King's Cross last night. Had to get a fecking night bus home (night buses are crap although cheap). After waiting half an hour for the thing to arrive, a bloke had an epileptic fit on the bus, so we were all turfed out for another half an hour. The bus took the longest possible route from King's Cross to Richmond, going through Putney of all places, probably took in Birmingham too, but I was asleep throughout most of the journey. Managed to get a cab at Richmond, then got home at 3am, so am definitely going back to bed now.
I did email the editors to say what's going on and they said they would reply to all emails on the back of the founding issue questionnairre, and to date, absoloutely nothing. If anyone went to the party and had a fantastic time, I'll obviously take these comments back, but until then I think "founding subscribers" got a poor deal and I'm personally very embarrassed about this as I recommended subscribing to a lot of my friends, and posted on this blog too.
Anyway, if you want an alternative magazine for London, I'd go for the quirky, eccentric and delightful Smoke magazine instead.
"While on the DLR it came to a sudden halt for five minutes. the conductor looked perplexed, then picked up the speaker phone, apologised for the delay and said it was due to signal failure. I asked how he knew the stoppage was due to those old enemies of the train timetable. He said: "I don't know why we stopped, but if in doubt, we are told to blame a delay on a signal failure".
So now you know why there are so many "signal failures".
See the links to the right on Protest to let them have your own stories about commuting in London.
I am going to put in an order for the special Jamie Oliver calendar that Boots cropped on their site pretty sharpish when they realised it made him look like more of a knob than he already is. Thanks to Mecca's rather caustic Jamie Oliver article and the ever wonderful zbornak for originally bringing this to my attention.
"In the future, everyone will get a seat on public transport, the seats will be bigger, there will be more room to stretch out, but until that happens, make your commute a bit easier with the new commuter sized Times. The new compact Times. Born to Commute".
Then when I was on the tube today I did see a hell of a lot of people with the new Times and it is going to be loads better sitting next to people who are not going to knock you out when they turn the pages of their paper.
Apparently sales of The Indie rose by 40,000 a day when they added the tabloid alternative and it does make you wonder whether the others will go the same way, at least in London.
Rucksack Bruising - " 'Rucksacks' could be substituted with "umbrella", "elbow" or "small wheelie thing that's just about the right height to cause shin agony". Metro say protective padding is an option of "an arsenal of hidden weapons" about your person (Christ knows how that got past associated Newspapers editors. Check out my earlier entry in my blog in June for my thoughts on rucksacks and the associated tube rule.
Commuter Neck - "A common complaint caused by repeated craning of head so as to avoid any eye contact with fellow passengers" Reading Metro is supposed to be the solution to this. More on avoiding eye contact with my unofficial tube rule.
Economy Posture Syndrome - "This affliction affects those trying to avoid knee contact with people sitting directly opposite. Crossed legs within tighter and tighter around each other cutting off circulation." Metro's solution - take an aspirin before travelling and make sure you stretch your legs by taking walks down the carriage. Blimey guys in the rush hours it's a struggle getting on the carriage, let alone taking walks up and down it. Are they suggesting you might get deep vein thrombosis from trying to avoid touching the knees of the person opposite? And what about those bastards who sit with their legs wide apart - rule and a July entry in my blog?
Finally - Escalator Hamstring - "Borne of commuters over enthusiastically running up steps, fooled into thinking it's not exercise because the steps are moving" Metro's solution - some warm up exercises "especially if you have to avoid obstructions such as stray tourists in the way".
The RMT voted 55% in favour of the strike and according to the BBC
"The action will probably start within 14 days with a series of 'go-slows' but London Underground said it will "change nothing".
Union members will be told to drive at just 10 or 15mph instead of the normal 40-45mph over lines where they have safety concerns."
Amazingly this is one strike I am fully behind. Like the LU bosses personally I don't think it will change anything dramatically but it will certainly get safety on the tube clearly back in the public eye where it belongs.
For a lot of the time the stupid platform indicators showed that the train was due in a minute. After five minutes it was clear that this was not the case. No announcements and the platform gets busier and busier. Then the platform indicators decided to show the truth - ie nothing. No one had any idea what was going on.
We were then told that the trains were delayed due to advanced mumbling and garbling. Then heard that the driver was leaving Lambeth North. Then apparently he must have decided to go for a tea break as five minutes later we were told that he wasn't leaving and the indicators when back to their helpful blank state.
Finally we were told he was now leaving Lambeth North and the train rolled into Waterloo after I'd been waiting for over the required 15 minutes to claim my money back under the Customer Charter. I hope that everyone else on the platform and further up the Bakerloo line did the same.
The beauty of tuberefund means no stupid pink forms to fill in and the ability to make your claim straight away while you remember the details and you can do it online or use your mobile phone - which is particularly handy.
And what sort of security are we paying for if a 61 year old woman can scale the fence of Buckingham Palace and put up a flag saying "Elizabeth Windsor, George Bush is not welcome here".
Although we have a much better track record of looking after our Heads of State than the Americans. Spencer Percival was the last and only British Prime Minister to be assassinated and that was in 1812.
Excellent Bush joke follows:
While on his state visit to England, George Bush met The Queen. He turned round to her and said: "As I'm the President, I'm thinking of changing how my great country is referred to, and I'm thinking that it should be a Kingdom."
The Queen then replied: "I'm sorry Mr Bush, but to be a Kingdom, you have to have a King in charge - and you're not a King."
George Bush thought a while and then said: "How about a Principality then?"
To which the Queen replied: "Again, to be a Principality you have to be a Prince -
and you're not a Prince, Mr Bush".
Bush thought long and hard and came up with "How about an Empire then?"
The Queen, getting a little annoyed by now, replied "Sorry again, Mr Bush, but to be an Empire you must have an Emperor in charge - and you are not an Emperor."
Before George Bush could utter another word, The Queen said: "I think you're doing quite nicely as a Country".
You go Ken
London's Mayor, Ken Livingstone, has also been his usual outspoken self on Bush's visit. He told The Ecologist magazine:
"I actually think Bush is the greatest threat to life on this planet that we have most probably ever seen....I don't formally recognise George Bush because he was not officially elected, so we are organising an alternative reception".
Speaking of books, me and my friend who's having a book published next year were a little put out to see the book Pains on Trains advertised on the tube. D'OH - it's a look at 50 painful train commuters including the "Flamboyant Groin" and "Double Seaters". Sounds familiar - check out my tube rules page and a previous blog entry here.
Oh well, it was only a matter of time before someone bought out a book with a similar them to the one I've researched - One Stop Short of Barking. Metro and the London Underground's own official site have also highlighted commuter saints and sinners and unofficial etiquette too. Needless to say One Stop Short of Barking will be infinitely more "funny", more "painfully true", and more "laugh out loud" than these blokes' book. Perhaps there will be a trend in "track lit" books from now on.
Well today I saw Matthew Kelly out of "Tonight Matthew, I'm going to be" - top Saturday ITV programme Stars in their Eyes. Now I know that Matthew lives near me as a couple of years ago I did see him myself at Turnham Green tube station. He also rather bizarrely gave me his autograph when I went up to him with a notebook at some function when I was simply trying to ask him a question.
Since leaving Stars in their Eyes Matthew, has gone on to get rave reviews by playing Lennie in Of Mice & Men at the Savoy Theatre in London. Amazingly I did manage to get a picture of Matthew at Gunnersbury tube station today and believe it or not that's him leaning against the poster of Lesley Joseph. See Matthew at Gunnersbury & Matthew as Lennie side by side.
So he wasn't exactly on the tube. But I was when I saw him, so I think that counts.
Received the following letter from Tony Arbour who's apparently my representative on the Greater London Assembly for the Boroughs of Richmond, Hounslow & Kingston who's proposing an alternative to the closure of the District Line which I use every day to get into work
Schott's Original Miscellany was last year's Xmas bestseller. My friends bought several of these for people last year (none for me though, hint, hint), but I never saw any tube ads for the book though.
Not as mad as it sounds and if you read this blog regularly-ish (shame on you if you don't) you'd have seen my earlier report (8th October) about this. Basically the driver, Mr Barrett, was off sick with an ankle injury and someone saw him leaving a squash club while he was on sick leave. Somehow his London Underground bosses found out and sacked him. His argument is that he was told that some exercise would actually strengthen his ankle. The RMT (large rail union) say he was sacked because he was a union activist:
"Despite the slurs on his character this is a clear case of victimisation of an RMT member making every effort to get back to work after sustaining a serious injury.
"The clear majority for strike action shows that his colleagues have not been swayed by an attempt at media assassination. LU must reinstate our member."
Said Bob Crow leader of the RMT.
There must have been a "grass" around because the London Underground say Mr Barrett was playing "competitive squash" and not just exercising his ankle, and this is why they say he was sacked.
Anyway, the ballot for a strike happened and a date has been set of a 24 hour walk out of workers from 9.30pm on the 13th November on the Hammersmith & City and Circle lines. A hundred workers will be going on strike and although this is only two lines it will have a serious knock on effect for the whole of the Underground network.
According to The Evening Standard this could effect at least 50,000 people's journeys or the BBC estimate at least 55,000 people. Bearing in mind that the Circle Line will now be affected too, it's going to be at least double that figure in my opinion - oh joy! Let's also hope that no one was planning a Circle Line Pub Crawl on Friday night.
At least I thought it was him. So in full celebrity tube stalk mode, I rushed up the set of escalators to see if I could catch him at the next set up. Again he was racing up the escalator stairs and left the barriers and went to the exit I normally use. Must be him I thought, he's going for the Shaftesbury Avenue exit, which means theatreland, lovies.
But he went walking through the Trocadero. How bizarre? I crossed Shaftesbury Avenue as normal and headed towards my office in seedy Soho, and saw him heading out of the Troc, and also crossing onto Shaftesbury Avenue where I imagine he was going to go into one London's many theatres which are within spitting distance of each other.
Yet another sunny November morning. Noted that the Flower & Firkin pub at Kew Gardens Station has now rightly been renamed The Railway. Even though the doors to the pub don't actually open onto the platform, for some legal reason, the windows and doors look out onto the platform and it's the only pub I know that's so close to the tube line it may as well have doors opening on the platform.
So then you could have a quick bevvy and stroll leisurely onto your train as you heard it approaching, rather than having to leg it out through the pub and through the proper station entrance to get onto the train.
Got to Hammersmith to change onto the Piccadilly Line and it was pretty busy (even though I was late), so using the tube rule of where to stand to get on first, I weasled my way in front of people just standing around and stood right in the middle of the Mind the Gap floor sign and the doors opened right in front of me (as if by magic) so I smugly entered and took the last seat in the carriage much to the glowers from people who'd been waiting for the train far longer.
All had those answers where you can really easily fiddle the results (if you're remotely bothered to do the quiz in the first place) - you know - Mostly zero's - you are a saint, Mostly 10's you are a sinner. Come on guys you've got to do better than this.
I found the section on why we hate Monday mornings much more amusing:
"Reason Two: We briefly forgot what it was like to be in close proximity to other people's body fluids in a space even David Blaine would have found cramped. Is it our imagination or is public transport even more obscenely full on Monday mornings as the compulsive sickie brigade avoid an obvious long weekend?"
It's interesting to note her own opinion which forms part of her response:
"My own personal view is that the Government should be legally liable as it was responsible for signing off a contract which was inadequate in terms of maintenance standards, inspections and supply of information."
Once again a big, big thank you to everyone who asked questions and contributed to the debate and posted links to it on their own websites and blogs. It really has shown that with a bit of noise we can get politicians and people in power to listen.