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Annie Mole's, daily web log (blog) & “guide” to the London Underground
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Saturday, July 31, 2004

Tube Ad banned

Smelly Food Ad Pulled for insulting Italians

I know the headline above almost sounds like it came from The Day Today spoof news show, but it's true. In fact I imagine most Londoners would have probably heard about this by now. But the ad below telling people not to eat smelly food on the London Underground has been pulled.

I've love the excited start of the feature from
The Scotsman:

"A CAMPAIGN to stop passengers from eating smelly food on the London Underground has backfired horribly and sparked a diplomatic incident between Italy and Britain."

Mamma MIA...ITALIANS in A Stew over Tube Ad

A diplomatic incident.......oooooerrr. According to The Scotsman the ads only went up last week - which is bollox as they've been up for months - I blogged one in early June - but I spose it makes for a much more dramatic story to say that after a week the ad was pulled rather than months.

Anyway loads of Italians got really offended by the ad and wrote to their embassy in London. "Italy�s ambassador to London, Giancarlo Aragona, sent letters to Mr Livingstone as well as to London Underground�s marketing director, Richard Parry, and informed officials in Rome of the posters." ........

"Last night Guido Cerboni, of the Italian embassy in London, said: "I just can�t believe how naive London Underground was in allowing these posters to go on display.

"The man seen sitting on the tube is clearly Italian and he is surrounded by Italian salami and Parma ham, and you can quite clearly see the Italian flag and the name of an Italian firm.

"The poster implies that Italian food is smelly and that Italians eat smelly food. This was a colossal error and as soon as we heard about it we complained."

Mmmm, I can sort of sympathise but I don't think the guy in poster looks remotely Italian - he looks like Bernard Manning to me, but that's by the by.

Anyway Ken Livingstone got involved and the ads are now being taken down:

Sherrif Ken said "As a lover of Italian food, I can say that the items illustrated both smell and taste delicious. I have asked London Underground to take the ads down immediately."

A London Underground spokesperson said: "We apologise for any offence caused to any members of the Italian community and charcuterie manufacturers and retailers."

Most Tube ads are going to be offensive to someone, but I'm not Italian. But aren't they just supposed to be vaguely funny? Humour is going to have a dig at someone somewhere along the line. The whole thing has now given the papers a field day to come up with some very corny headlines - some of my favourites from the 77 currently in Google News (yep 77 stories about this - jeesus).

Mamma MIA...ITALIANS in A Stew over Tube Ad
Salami wars over tube poster
UK smelly food plea irks Italians
London Yanks Smelly Salami Poster
Italian envoy poo-poos anti-smell poster

; Posted by annie mole Saturday, July 31, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Friday, July 30, 2004

Zone 1 Tube Challenge

And they're off

I promised
Geoff and Neil that I would blog a challenge that will start today at around 12.20 at Vauxhall station. A group of guys (for some reason I seemed to be included on the initial list too, which caused all sorts of confusion to me and made me think I had early onset of Alzheimer's) are going to see how fast they can travel round every tube station in Zone 1. Geoff and Neil are pretty used to doing this as they regularly do all 270 odd stations on the whole system, so my money would be on them.

However they may be challenged by the newcomers - including Tom Reynolds from Random Reality. The current record for Zone 1 is 3 hours 15 minutes and 59 seconds to cover all 63 stations, and the "unofficial" record holder for that, Peter Smyth, is going along today.

Tom promises to blog updates of his progress using his mobile but as he says it's dependent on when he "comes up for air". I offered to post updates of Geoff and Neil's progress but they're keeping their cards close to their chest and don't want to give out too many secrets.

Anyway, the whole thing may well be on the BBC tonight as a cameraman will be following them all round for at least some of the day. Ewan (the organiser of today's event) has decided to wear a kilt for the occasion. Hope he remembers he has a "skirt" on and doesn't do the usual blokey thing of sitting with his legs apart on the tube.

Good luck to all of them, shame they couldn't have picked a cooler day to do it.

Update - I've just had a text message from Geoff to say that the winning time was 2 hours 55 minutes and 50 seconds. Geoff I think came 4th at 3 hours 4 minutes. Celebrations are currently taking place downstairs in the Horse & Groom if anyone wants to join in.

; Posted by annie mole Friday, July 30, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Do you think I'd make the Tate?

New York Subway Commuters exhibited at the Tate Modern

So it's not just people who visit my blog who interested in looking at subway commuter's bored expressions. From now until the 19th September at the
Tate Modern there's a larger than life sized video display of women travelling on the New York Subway with voiceovers of their responses to a series of questions.

Julia Loktev's Said in Passing video on at The Tate Modern

Julia Loktev's video is called Said in Passing and here comes the art bit: "A city's subway system is public space in perpetual motion. A constantly shifting no man's land inhabited by people on the move. Five video projections form one long image showing different women riding the New York subway. Their voices can be heard on headphones across from each projection. The women - some actors, some friends and acquaintances of the artist - present themselves in short announcements. Do we get to know who they are or who they would like to be?"

Interesting idea, perhaps I could convince another gallery to try a Tube version, or even charge people for coming into the Tube to see some "reality art".

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, July 29, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Escalator Ads

Yahoo's tube campaign

I'm finding it increasingly difficult to get a picture of the
Yahoo ads (or any escalator ad for the that matter) even though our escalators hardly travel at any speed they seem to be just fast enough to get very blurry shots. Perhaps I just ought to use my flash and pretend I'm a tourist who can't understand the "DO NOT USE FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY ON ANY PART OF THE LONDON UNDERGROUND" announcements. Or simply be a smartarse and say "It's not flash photography, it's just pretty basic, it's very flattering for you to say it's flash, blah, blah" and hope they see the funny side.

Anyway - here's blurred version of the Yahoo Ad which points down for Sardines, you'll also see ones pointing down for Claustrophics and ones pointing up for Daylight.

More will follow when I find a broken escalator without a trail of people behind me.

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, July 27, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Friday, July 23, 2004

Tube Temperatures

My anti forecast

Perhaps I ought to moan about the weather more often, as from my last post moaning about the hideous July we've had so far, today is hot and sunny and like a proper July and it's forecast to be a good weekend too.

Coming home on the Piccadilly Line last night, I came down into the station at Piccadilly Circus and I think some maschochists on the Tube had deliberately turned on the heating.

At platform level it was cooler but plenty of people were fanning themselves with any old rubbish they could find in their bags. At Waterloo a month ago some company had the bright idea of handing out Japanese fans whereas on the Tube you have to make do with left over copies of Metro or tube maps.

More ideas for a cooler tube from 2003

At 9pm the line itself wasn't hot so it was a relief to get on the train. By the time I changed to the mainly overland District Line there was a great breeze running through the train. I should have checked Metcheck on the tube to see how hot it was last night to compare with today's scorchio temperatures.

Bring on the the new cooling system.

; Posted by annie mole Friday, July 23, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Going Overground

Turkish Baths and Hot Tempers

Anyone commuting in London right now will know that this post is not going to be about it being like a Turkish Bath on the Tube. It's been a shit July as far as the weather's concerned. Overcast, not very hot, but muggy, raining almost every day, an equal number of people in boots as in Birkenstock sandals, and no "Phew wot a scorcher" headlines this month.

Me and a friend from work (who had been caught up in
yesterday's catalogue of Tube delays) and her friend had a really pleasant and relaxing time at some Turkish Baths near to where we work. Then had a leisurely Italian meal a bit further away from where I normally work, so I decided to get the bus to Waterloo and then British Snail overground to Richmond.

As I was walking through the station there was a scuffle. It didn't look like a massive fight but ended up with a guy wearing a Thug Rock T shirt (what is it about sloganned T shirts these days) doing that "Come on then, if you think you're hard enough" flicking motion with his hands, and a lot of other men between him and the person he was fighting saying "Forget it, just go". Fortunately he went swaggering off.

I walked to where my train was leaving from and saw that wasn't the end of the story, as another guy was lying on the floor unconscious, with a number of concerned people standing around, some putting him in the recovery position, blood on the floor and amazingly not one member of South West Trains staff around.

OK it was late - about five past eleven, but not really, really late and luckily some good Samaritans who looked in control where checking his pulse and doing other competant looking stuff. But I was watching this for about five minutes before anyone vaguely official came along. Counter this to the scenes in the morning when the station is positively crawling with staff trying to prosecute people for travelling without tickets.

Fortunately, the guy regained consciousness, but bang went my feelings of calm and serenity after leaving the Turkish baths.

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, July 21, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Would you be allowed to wear this in the office?

Bit of a shocker first thing in the morning

Now I know I'm going to get called an old prude by some people but what's the deal with some people and their "humourous T shirts". I was sitting opposite a guy wearing a
Don't Walk FCUK T shirt this morning. I'm assuming he worked for some very right on company as he must have been going to work. Perhaps he worked for French Connection. Perhaps I am being hyper sensitive about this as around me there were plently of people reading the Sun, The Star and even Heat with loads of baps and boobies all over the place. But the FCUK T Shirts, aren't they 21st century equivalent of the Mickey Mouse ties?

If you want people to look at you on the tube, why not just start talking loudly to the person next to you.

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, July 20, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Friday, July 16, 2004

Happy Friday

Threat of Tube Strike and Deafness 
What a great start to the day as there's going to be
more discussions on more industrial action today (I'll keep you posted on the outcome), but just in case that's not cheery enough it looks as though being on the tube could cause hearing loss.
According to the BBC  "An expert measured sound levels louder than a pneumatic drill and advised regular passengers to consider wearing ear protection."  The expert in question measured noise levels on the Victoria Line and found that found that the noise peaked at 118dB, louder than a pneumatic drill.  Apparently  the average level was between 88 and 89dB.

Now I know that no one in their right mind is going to be on the tube for longer than eight hours but "Health and Safety rules state employers should provide ear protection for people exposed to average levels of 85dB over an eight-hour period."
Obviously it's a scaremongering article but there have been many times when I've noticed the noise is pretty loud - but then I live under the flight path at Heathrow so I get used to noise. 
Professor Prasher the expert really got into his stride though:
It's the equivalent of a big jack hammer going, or a jet engine taking off in the distance.

Although the journey times for most people are going to be short, this is a cumulative damage.

If you regularly commute and use that line, then you need to seriously think about some form of ear protection." 

Headphones over Baseball Cap

You've been warned!

; Posted by annie mole Friday, July 16, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Cooling the tube

Great timing

In the usual wonderful timing of London Transport I just heard on the radio that a cooling system is being trialled on the Victoria Line. Sheriff Ken put up a
reward last year for someone who could come up with a workable air conditioning system for the London Underground. A hundred grand was offered and loads and loads of people came up with weird and wonderful ideas.

This July has been one of the most unseasonably cold and wet that I can remember for a long time, so it's great that Victoria Line passengers may be cooled down today.

Haven't found any links on the net about this yet, but if anyone has any news about this it'd be great to hear.

OHMIGOD it's St Swithin's Day and it was raining this morning. So another possible 40 days of rain to go.
Update - Have now found a report on this from the BBC - well not a report on St Swithins day but the tube being cooled on the Victoria Line.

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, July 15, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

There's always someone watching you

Anonymity doesn't exist

Again a case of the pot calling the kettle black, I can rarely stop "people watching" on the tube, but for some strange reason I seem to think that I, personally, have a cloak of invisibility when I get on public transport.

A few stops before I got off this evening, a woman sat next to me and in a really husky Eastern European accent said "How is your make up today?"

My immediate thought was that she was slightly mad, or that this was some sort of weird advertising campaign and she was going to try to sell me some of L'Oreal or Rimmel's finest.

"You're very brave, you are putting your make-up on on the tube".

Penny drops. The poor woman would have been witness to my facial grimaces each morning as I put a bit of slap on using a tiny mirror in my make up bag. "Thanks" I reply, because, well, what else is there to say.

"I need a large mirror to put my make up on and you must have a much steadier hand than me".

Considering she was in her late fifties this probably went without saying, but it would have been rude to say.

So there are watchers all around on the tube, not just me and my camera. Just remember that next time you think you're going to pick your nose, pick your teeth, or your ears or scratch your nether regions. You are NOT invisible.

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, July 14, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Monday, July 12, 2004

Monday's Metro Momento

Maps in Metro

Judging by some of the comments in
Wednesday's post I think some of you felt that the map for 2016 was a wind up. Then even I though it was a wind up - I'm pretty naive - cos in addition to new lines and Cross rail and stuff there were some really specific station names proposed for 2016 - New Acres Library and Ealing Hospital for example. But from today's Metro I found the map is actually on the Tube's official website. I know that doesn't really make it less of a fiction, but it means that I can link to it, rather than letting the PDF use up my own server space and it seems like we're going to have some pretty literal names for stations in the future.

Also Metro gave a nod to the fab Animals on the Underground maps (blogged in February - yes I have a Nigelly - Oh I blogged it before Metro streak in me today) and my trusty Way Out Tube Map which is no longer in print but you can get it from Amazon - this was a godsend when I was recovering from my broken leg last year - it tells you where to get on to get off or is as Metro say "a boon to lazy commuters and the perennially late".

; Posted by annie mole Monday, July 12, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Slow News Day

"Cult" Tube website in The Standard

Friday must have been one hell of a quiet day for news as amazingly I found that my main site had been given a half page feature in Friday's Evening Standard:

Cult Website Lists The Ad-Lib Announcements of Frustrated Train Staff"

Click to see the full article

Cult website, I nearly fell off my chair. Well I must thank Andre Paine for writing the feature as it's led to a shed load of traffic to the main site and a few other announcements reported to the guestbook.

Elswhere in Friday's Standard I learnt that the Tube are happy about breast feeding even though a woman was thrown out of the National Gallery for breast feeding. In a magnanimous statement the Tube said: "We have strong equality and inclusion policies. It would be allowed on Underground platforms and Tube carriages".

; Posted by annie mole Sunday, July 11, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Thursday, July 08, 2004

First Tube banner ad I've seen

Using BT or using the Tube

I was just browsing the
Radio Times website and a moving Tube train caught my eye. I don't normally pay massive attention to banner ads but this one compared the number of people who "come back" to BT with the amount of people who use the tube each day (coming back to BT is nothing to do with bio-terrorism but re-connecting to British Telecom for their phone - for any visitors outside of the UK):

Two and a half thousand people a day apparently - enough to fill ten tube trains:

Or only three in the normal rush hour:

Reconnecting to BT may have more comparisons to travelling on the Tube. You probably wait a long time for them to turn up. They rarely turn up when they say they will. And after you've been using them a long time, you think "I must find an alternative" but can never really be arsed to do so.

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, July 08, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

London Underground Map for 2016?

What the Tube may look like in twelve years

Many thanks to
Geoff Marshall again for sending me a PDF of a map for London Transport in 2016 which was in last night's Evening Standard.

Click to see full map

There's tons of proposed new lines - Crossrail will be the only one effecting me (that's if I'm still in Richmond in 12 years time - hardly know what I'm doing next week some of the time)

Check it out - how much of it will actually happen is anyone's guess. You might also want to look at alwaystouchout (which has been on my right hand links for a while now) with the latest plans for London Transport and expected completion dates - although if the new lines are anything like the Jubilee Line Extension we could be in for a very long wait.

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, July 07, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tuesday, July 06, 2004


Back to my old stomping ground of Soho this evening to meet a friend for a free meal. It was pretty chaotic at Holborn and there were many mumbling announcements about overcrowding and Piccadilly Circus station being closed due to overcrowding.

I was racking my brains trying to think why Dilly Circus should be closed, and also why Leicester Square had suddenly become exit only. It's a school night, why are hoardes of people here tonight? As I went up the only working escalator at Leicester Square, watching people opposite begrudingly following the little man on the British Heart Foundation ad and trying to make friends with the stairs, the penny still hadn't dropped.

Stairs aren't any friends of mine

It was only when I was shuffling at snails pace out of the station, that I remembered that someone had the bright idea to drive a series of
Formula 1 cars through Piccadilly Circus on a school night just at the end of the rush hour. Nice one! If you like the idea of ear splittingly noisy cars zooming round Eros and Regent's Street, check out The Times' glowing preview of the event.

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, July 06, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Monday, July 05, 2004

My Monk Moment

Tube Hygiene

I was heading off after work to get my teeth scrubbed by the dental hygienist and going down some escalators I felt something wet on the rubber pad. I resisted the urge to smell my hand (too awful to contemplate), or even wipe it on my jeans, it was probably something totally innocent. However, when I finally got to the dentist I legged it to the loo and washed my hands feeling like a commuting version of that obsessive compulsive private detective

If you actually spent your life thinking about what might be on the poles or the escalator pads, or the seats or doors you would never use the tube, or any public transport.

There was a massive urban legend going round years and years ago about what was on the seats of tube trains, and so many people believed the truth of this email that the London Underground had to go on the radio to say it was bollox.

You would smell a rat though wouldn't you? Although that was the point as quite literally the remains of two large rats, 6 mice, an unheard of fungus plus lots of human deposits including urine and vomit were supposedly found on the seats.

You hardly ever see anyone feel the seat before sitting down, even travelling late at night when the likelihood of vomit and urine is a lot higher. The only times people do feel the seat is if a seat is suspiciously empty in a very crowded carriage.

; Posted by annie mole Monday, July 05, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Yahoo ads

More top tube ads

You've probably seen the spate of Yahoo ads on the tube at the moment.
Geoff Marshall sent me this one and I'll try and take some others on my journey

The idea behind this one is that it was taken at Vauxhall and the next stop is.....Pimlico

There's others on the tube where you can search for Sardines and people with Bad Hair. Watch this space.

; Posted by annie mole Saturday, July 03, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE