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Annie Mole's, daily web log (blog) & “guide” to the London Underground
If you like this you'll LURVE One Stop Short of Barking, the fun and informative book about travelling
on the London Underground.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Distraction and Chef's Toilet Line

Inspired by......?

Goodness knows what - possibly the picture I took in April of the
ridiculous dot matrix display sign, Sellassie Lawson has created some great realistic "the next tube" indicators. So we have on the Bakerloo Line

The Bake-a-toilet-duck Line

Followed by the line that is the bane of my life

The Distraction Line

The amount of times I have seen Ealing Bdwy rather than Richmond when I got to Glamoursmith or Turnham Blue is beyond a joke.

Many thanks for sending those through Sellassie, you're a star. More may be on the way.

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, May 26, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Wot no strikes?

To strike or not to strike

I've been fairly de-mob happy for the last few days as I'm going 'ooop north to a North Sea seaside down this Bank Holiday (some people holiday in La Scala, I holiday in Scarborough), so I totally missed reading about "strikes or lack or them or pay rises to avert strikes or the railway going out on strike to co-incide with tube strikes which are pre-empted by pay rises so at least some public transport may be running sometime over the next few weeks" in today's Metro.

Fortunately the guy opposite me had a copy coming home this evening so I got a vague gist of what was going on to be able to give you the insightful piece of reporting above.

Anyway, if you really want to know what's going on check out
the FT.

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, May 26, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Inspector Sands

Everyone in London must know who he is

Yesterday morning station staff were testing out fire alarms at Richmond station, so there were lots of loud announcements telling us to ignore anything that sounded like an alarm.

I didn't hear anything which sounded like a siren or bell or anything just a lot of interrupted messages for "Inspector Sands to report to blah blah, mumble".

Inspector Sands is used as a code for either a suspect fire or an alarm which has gone off somewhere which may or may not be a fire. So instead of someone saying - "We think there may be a fire" which might lead to platforms of passengers and staff in Dad's Army style legging it about saying "Don't panic Mr Mainwaring", it means that those in the know - silently think "Don't panic, don't panic" and look for the quickest exit.

Check out the infamous
Mr Sands with Nik Fox's recording.

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, May 25, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Friday, May 21, 2004

Lipstick, powder and spoon

Strangest make up accessory

I know some people get freaked out by seeing women putting on their make up on the Tube, I was freaked out myself today but only because the woman I saw was using a teaspoon.

First of all I thought she'd just dropped the spoon into her make up bag by mistake or was possibly going to take some cough mixture or hayfever medication or something. But no, she used the spoon as a bizarre eyelash curler. Normal eyelash curlers I find pretty freaky too and always imagine people pulling their eyelashes out with them, but curling your eyelashes over a teaspoon is definitely one of the wierdest things I've seen on the Underground and I've seen some pretty weird things. Way too stunned to get a picture - but trust me it was a literal eye opener.

Amazingly assorted range of footwear on the tube this morning too as the weather is being it's usual chaotic self and after two days of heat I've seen loads of exposed feet in Birkenstock stylie sandals (
still as popular as last year) next to women wearing full length boots.

; Posted by annie mole Friday, May 21, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Yahoo's Top 100 Sites for Men

My site is missus friendly

My colleague at work has just told me that my main site
www.goingunderground.net (cunnily called Tube Tales here) has just made it into Yahoo's Top 100 Sites for Men (that won't offend the missus).

Cool - it has a boy's rating of 4/5 (A five pint evening with a whisky chaser apparently - just below surfing the net with Vinnie Jones). So now it's officially hip with other bloke's media including FHM and Boyz, but will I ever make it into Cosmopolitan, Vogue or People's Friend?

Cheers Yahoo

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, May 20, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Jubilee Line Drivers

It's a laugh a minute on the Jubbly line

What with mad Richie with his
Mother's Day and Ironing Board announcements, I've now had another driver sign my guestbook with the following:

"What is wrong with passengers today.

It was Halloween night on the jubilee. As I went into the tunnel at Finchley Road I switched off all the interior lights. No one saw the funny side, but a few complained.

Where's the Great British sense of humour gone?."

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, May 20, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Commuting......the life sentence

Debate about the daily grind

Not quite sure how I got this email (although it's a lot more relevant than the ones I get about member enlargement, staying hard, overwhelming spam and hitchikers getting banged), but I was given a final reminder that there's a debate tonight on the following:

"The one aspect of the daily grind that is guaranteed to provoke an opinion is the commute to work. Congested roads, overcrowded trains, packed buses and sweaty tubes - it's been said that if travel broadens the mind, commuting shrinks it back. At 46 minutes, on average, Britain has the longest commute times in Europe. So why do so many of us continue to do it?

These days drivers are often condemned as selfish cloggers of the urban anxieties and public transport is portrayed as a more responsible alternative. But is commuting by public transport better by commuting by car or is commuting itself a problem? This debate investigates whether commuting is a symbol of our anxious times, conveying images of time-poverty, pollution, selfishness and stress, and asks how we can envisage things
getting better."

Sounds interesting and I agree about the overcrowding in a major way. I was going to give up commuting at one point and move out of town. At another point in my life I was falling asleep regularly on the Piccadilly Line (whenever I got a seat) and literally dragging myself around the tube like a zombie and again I thought I'd had enough.

My journey into work now takes anything up to an hour and half which is ridiculous. Blogging helps in a way in that I try now to keep awake in the morning and watch people around me and look for anything to make the commute less of grind. But it is a grind, there's no getting away from it. We do shuffle along into the tube, or buses, or trains like the living dead. It's not a great way to start your day. I can be an foul mood for a fair while after a shitty journey in and that can't be good for me and certainly not for the first few people I mutter or grunt at in the office.

Tonight I'm going out see Vernon Kay do a studio recording of a new music and comedy quiz show, so won't be going to the debate, but if anyone has eight or six quid to spare and fancies going along to The Museum of London
check out the website.

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, May 20, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

"Rail public transport is often obsolete"

Well there's a surprise

Well whoopeedoo London are in the final five shortlist of cities for the Olympics in 2012 but according to the International Olympic Committee we're going to have to pull our socks up when it comes to getting spectators around the capital:

According to
The Standard, the Committee need some convincing and said "Rail public transport is often obsolete and considerable investments must be made."

Meanwhile back with other bids for power, the mayoral shennanigans see Steve Norris promising guards on The Tube to make it safer for us ladies to travel around at night.

Again The Standard reports that "His "safe carriage" proposal comes as research shows 60 per cent of women feel unsafe on the Tube at night, compared to 32 per cent of men."

Under Norris' plan security guards would travel in the middle carriage of all Tube trains after 10pm (I wonder why the middle carriage was chosen?). The carriage would be clearly marked "safe" and could be used by anyone, not just women. They'd start off on routes where the highest number of offences were recorded but then but would eventually be rolled out across the whole Tube network.

I can just about remember those Guardian Angel volunteer vigilante types who used to patrol the Tube years and years ago, who always seemed pretty weird to me. They wore berets and looked like slightly threatening, more filled out, versions of Frank Spencer.

Update D'OH - trust The Big Smoker to post this before me today - check out the picture on their site and you'll see what I mean about Frank Spencer.

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, May 18, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Monday, May 17, 2004

Stand on the right

So it's not just a London thing

Many thanks to Jane Perrone who writes for
The Guardian's blog and also has her own excellent gardening blog for emailing me about the www.standtotheright.com website.

The guy who runs this site had got in touch with me some time ago but it was one of those emails or guestbook entries which floated into my Bermuda triangle file and never re-surfaced.

Basically, on the Washington Metro ordinary commuters are just as hacked off as us Londoners when it comes to tourists or out-of-towners or people with a death wish who insist on standing on the left on escalators.

Today The Washington Post (you may need to register to read the article) picked up on the site with its Cafepress T shirts and be-moaned the fact that tourists are the worst offenders of this cardinal sin:

"The train is right there and you see the doors closing and it's like, 'Get out of my way!'" said Shain, a behavioural and social researcher who missed that train by seconds.

Then, a moment of empathy. "A lot of the people who visit here come here from Middle America where there is no subway, so they're not used to it," said Shain, who grew up in Kentucky. "You have to just expect that if you live in this city. You have to deal with the tourists."

Fougasse's Stand on the Right London Underground poster from 1944

It was annoying in the forties with the sign above, it's annoying now. But at least we have loads of signs on the Tube whereas some big wig in Washington decided to get them removed:

"Years ago, Metro bolted small metal "Stand to Right" plaques to some escalators but then removed them, concerned that the message was an implicit endorsement of walking, something the transit system officially condemns. "We advocate that people do not walk, for safety reasons," said Goodine (an assistant general manager for system safety and risk protection - snappy job title), adding that escalators are the place where most injuries occur inside Metro stations. Escalator injuries are declining but are still a major concern, he said.

"Unfortunately, we have this practice, and it's universal," Goodine said. "What are we going to do? Post a pedestrian traffic cop at every escalator? We have to come up with a way to address this, but right now our policy is, to ensure maximum safety, stand, don't run or walk, on the escalators."

I don't know how many injuries there have been with people "walking" up or down escalators on the tube, so it seems weird condoning walking - specially at the moment there's some ads on the Tube by the British Heart Foundation, actually encouraging people to walk up or down escaltors cos it's healthier. Ahh, those people across the pond - what are we going to do with them?

; Posted by annie mole Monday, May 17, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Saturday, May 15, 2004

One man and his dog

But was he a busker?

On Thursday I went to Paddington on the Circle Line to go off to a meeting in Reading and a man got on with a sandy coloured dog, rucksack and flute. Fairly pleasant flautist (no idea if that's how you spell it) and his dog seemed quite relaxed by the music too and after sniffing around on the floor for a bit just laid down as you can see below

The weirdest thing though was that the man was just playing for a number of stops and then he got off at Paddington with me and made absolutely no attempt to get money off anybody. He didn't have a cup or a bag for collecting money. The dog wasn't begging or howling, or going round with a cup either.

Maybe he (the man that is) was just playing for the sheer hell of it, or maybe he had momentarily forgotten he was a busker.

; Posted by annie mole Saturday, May 15, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Thursday, May 13, 2004

London Blog Meet

Hi I'm Annie from the London Underground Blog

Was what I said quite a few times last night at my
second bloggers party. It was a great shame it was on a school night as I'd have loved to have stayed longer. I arrived at 8pm and when I next looked at my watch it was twenty to eleven, so I thought shit I'd better make a move.

I'm pretty tired and about to go to bed now but it was really, really good to talk to a lot more people that I didn't manage to speak to from the last party at Xmas (there are comments in that post even if it looks like there aren't) - Dave (or Cornelius as he insisted on calling himself) from Acerbia (he also insisted on showing half the room his new back tattoo which is from the design on the front page of his site) - Pix (Anne) from Pixeldiva and Anna (fellow Bloggie nominee - we wuz robbed)) from Little Red Boat who celebrated her birthday on the night and was given a load of signed escort girl calling cards from us all (Belle De Jour would have been proud) and treated to a rousing rendition of "Happy Birthday".

Nice to meet Darren again from the brill timemachinego - who I spoke to a lot at the last party but didn't manage too much at this one.

Also great to get a very warm welcome from the fantabulous campaigning Tim of Bloggerheads and pleased to meet in the flesh for the first time bloggers whose sites I regularly visit - Dave from funkypancake (and his friend Grahame), Matt Robinson (with bearded friend Bruce), Natalie - Blaugustine, Tom from Random Reality (my friend Matt will be delighted) and Mark from Londonmark.

It was fun and quite flattering to meet regular readers like Simon from minor 9th, Josephine and Sashinka, who made a point of finding me to say how much they like this blog.

And kind of embarrassing to meet Paul whose magazine London News Review I had publically slagged off some time ago - but I must say that I've remained loyal to the email newsletter London by London which Paul is now in control of since his split from the magazine.

Well done to James Cox for organising it. Getting way over 50 bloggers together was no mean feat especially in the middle of the week.

Apologies if I spoke to you and didn't give you a name check. Off to bed now.

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, May 13, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Another Central Line Derailment

Derailment or Defective Train

I'm sure if you had to travel on the Central Line today, you would have heard about a derailment of a train at about 12.30 at White City. Fortunately no one was hurt, but doubtless and rightly so there will be a lot more enquiries and the question of safety on the tube rears its head once more, as this is only about 18 months after the
last derailment on the Central Line, where lots of people were hurt and the line was out of action for months and months.

Read the Evening Standard Report

The Evening Standard reported that this section of track was only worked on the previous evening: "As investigators focused on a set of points at the derailment site, a Metronet spokesman said: "We don't know if our recent work and the derailment are connected and we are looking into the work we've been doing."

Depending on which line you were on when travelling home this evening you would have heard the accident described as a "derailment" or a "defective train". I caught several permutations coming back home on the Piccadilly Line and District Line, plus lots of signs at Holborn too.

Sign at Holborn

For more on this check out the BBC's site.

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, May 11, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Do your homework guys

Mad tube driver recording now on the Tube's website

Someone (who shall remain nameless) has just sent a quiet email to me and my friend
Nik Fox who did the recording of the mad tube driver (Richie) which has been on my main site since last July, to say that "our" recording now appears on the Tube's website as part of their training - well it's how not to do an announcement in all honesty:

"For very good operational reasons, public announcements on the Underground are usually made within strict guidelines and protocols. This gem of non-standard communication comes from a member of the team in more expansive mood." say the training notes.

The emailer suggests that me and Nik should "av a word" with The Tube or rather "make polite investigations or clarifications as to who owns the rights". Interesting, but not something that I, personally, could be arsed to do. Nik may be able to get some acknowledgement though - who knows?

What I find most hysterical about this is that it's on the official site at all, and also that a little more investigation shows that some of my "tube facts" have also been "appropriated" for a quiz for their graduates. Since I made up the first "fact" they use and since fact 7 on their quiz is a well known urban legend, I think the producer of their site should have done a bit more homework rather than relying on me (of all people) as a source of all tube knowledge. Perhaps I should offer my services as a tube lecturer.

Now I wonder what else I can make them believe?

; Posted by annie mole Sunday, May 09, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Saturday, May 08, 2004

Possible New World Record

For travelling round all tube stations in the shortest possible time

One of the many people who sends me odd snippetts for my blog is Geoff Marshall who has set himself a challenge of trying to beat the record for travelling round all 275 tube stations. He's been on TV doing this and subsequently been lampooned by
Victor Lewis Smith in the Evening Standard - but despite all this he takes it all in good humour and even though Lewis Smith assumed otherwise - he has got a girlfriend.

Geoff sent me a piccy about a tube barrier last week and I hadn't got round to posting it, but I looked at his site a couple of days ago and noticed that him and his mates, believe that on Wednesday (7th May) they have now finally beaten the record.

It still needs to be confirmed by the Guinness Book of Records (how they confirm this is anyone's guess), but it's looking likely that 18 hours, 35 minutes and 43 seconds beats the 19 hours record.

My favourite picture of all the ones on Geoff and friends' travelling-round-all-stations-in-under-19-hours attempts is the one with Geoff proudly holding a bottle of Ribena which he used for a loo stop.

What to use when caught short on the tube

Geoff emailed me when I told him this and said: "The bottle of "Urinena", as I've christened it. Not everybody thought it was funny! Some people at work where genuinely appalled, as was my girlfriend!!"

I'd never even thought about loo breaks if you were going to be on the tube all day, but thinking about it, it's a very sorry state of affairs with very few stations having toilets on them. No wonder Santa had to have a slash in the corner of platforms in the Christmas campaign last year.

; Posted by annie mole Saturday, May 08, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Thursday, May 06, 2004

I want these!

Possibly the coolest shoes in the world (with apologies to
Pix's Shoe Project of course)

Are they baseball boots? High heeled trainers? Or simply just the coolest footwear I have so far seen on the tube?

Try running for a train in these beauties

It was really hard to get a picture of these in their full glory. As you can see the lady in question was sitting directly opposite me. She wasn't reading anything. When we both got on at Glamoursmith I was trying desparately to take a picture of her stepping across "the gap" to get into the train. My digital camera chose that moment to go in multi exposure mode - except all the exposures were shite.

When sitting opposite someone with at least three inch heels it's hard to see their heels unless they obligingly put their feet side on, or unless you lean slightly out of your seat, slightly across the guy sitting next to you and look slightly like a fool. Well the second option worked for me - particularly when cool, purple-booted woman decided she'd avoid the fidgety woman sitting opposite her and pick up a discarded Standard instead.

Speaking of Pix's Shoe Project, check our her very recent picture of some London Underground issue Doc Martens complete with Tube logo (roundel, for purists).....enjoy.

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, May 06, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Violence on the Tube

Depending on whereabouts you live in London and when you travel, you'll have a different opinion to violence on the London Underground. If you're listening to any radio station on London this morning you'll be thinking "Jeesus Christ, what's going on now". The latest (hasn't got round on the internet news yet) but Piccadilly Circus station is closed as there was a stabbing last night from a fight that started in a carriage and then spilled out onto the platform.

Also a few days ago a man was attacked at Wembley Park station when some man accused him of standing on his son's foot. Unfortunately that man died last night, so the invesitgation is now being treated as a murder inquiry. For more on this terrible incident see the
BBC news.

I'm really lucky in that I live in a reasonable part of London (well you can't even call Richmond London as it's Surrey, but still on the tube), also I tend not to travel around on it too late. But even so there's been one incident (October 2003) where I was pretty frightened in a carriage on a tube not even that late at night.

The problem with fights on the tube is that you are in such an enclosed space that other people can get caught up in stuff by accident. Tempers do flare and it's amazing there isn't more tube rage. The other problem is that with this retitcence and keeping yourself to yourself on the Tube people ignore violence. I'm not saying if this is right or wrong - I'm consider myself a scaredy cat and normally tend to move away if I have a sense of trouble erupting (not sure why I didn't in the October incident).

Anyway, must shoot off to work myself now, and for what it's worth, I would like to offer my condolences to the family of the man who was murdered.

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, May 06, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Lost on me

London Comedy Festival Ad

Still experimenting with my journey and got a bus (urggh) to Holborn today coming home and then the Dilly line from there. I'd seen these ads from a distance before, and with a couple of minutes to spare, snapped the one below

Mind the Gag????  I would if I could see it

Is it just me - or is this not very funny? It all a bit schoolboy humour really - landmarks of London looking like food, so we get Piccalilly Circus, The Millenium Wagon Wheel for The London Eye, and some bizarre piles of sarnies - I can sort of see how Marmite, Coleslaw and Chocolate Spread would be Poplar (it wouldn't be popular - that's the joke) but Peanut Butter, Jam and Crabpaste is totally lost on me to represent North Kensington.

Oh well, I'm sure there's a crowd of artists and cartoonists (including Martin Rowson - apparently London's Cartoonist Laureate) somewhere rolling around on the floor.

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, May 04, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Just a tad worrying

I don't think it matters whether it was an Iraqi or not but how on earth did someone manage to get into London Underground tunnels at 3am two weeks ago (but it only hit the papers today)

Surprisingly not on the front page of the Standard

London District secretary of the RMT union said "We are concerned that any unauthorised person should have access to the tracks - particularly at that hour. There would have been time to have hidden anything

We have demanded security checks for those who work on the system but this has not been done. There are subcontractors who wander around without identification

An LU spokesman said "The safety and security of London Underground is our top priority. Immediately an individual was found in the tunnel he was escorted from the track and questioned by the British Transport Police. The track was searched and nothing was found".

Check out The Standard for more on this

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, May 04, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Yahoo Pick of the Day

Cheers Yahoo

Blimey my blog's made it to a
Yahoo Pick of the Day for the 1st May, add that to the time when my main site was a Yahoo Pick of the Week (years ago - October 2000) all I can say is Yahoooooooooo

Here's what they said if you don't want to click on the link:

British people love to talk about the weather, it's a fact, and thankfully the crazy weather recently has given us plenty to talk about. In London, however, there is one thing which people love to talk about more than the weather and that is the Tube. Luckily, successive governments have realised the importance of Tube conversations to the general population of London and have striven to make sure that it never works properly. Today's Pick, the London Underground Tube Diary, is a blog about travelling on the Tube daily. The writing is pretty good and the site informative and amusing. So, if you have to cram into the world's grumpiest sardine cans every morning you may well appreciate Tube Diaries' take on commuting.

Not much blogging for the next few days though as it's a Bank Holiday on Monday in the UK - Yahoooooooo (again) and as the pick said - we've had some crazy weather just to coincide with it.

; Posted by annie mole Sunday, May 02, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE