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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

London Underground Strike Latest - ASLEF & RMT call off 2nd March strike

ASLEF call off Tube Striketube strikes off

Well it looks like here's one thing that Mayor Ken's suspension won't effect, as both the RMT and ASLEF have called off the industrial action that was planned on the Tube for this Thursday 2nd March.

ASLEF said "talks had progressed to the stage where taking action would prove unhelpful and could adversely affect the discussions. ASLEF has no desire to disrupt London's travelling public unless it is absolutely necessary."

Today, a London Underground spokesperson said: "We are pleased that ASLEF are to recommend that this Thursday's planned Tube strike is called off, following constructive talks with London Underground.

"We have maintained throughout that the best way to resolve all issues is through discussion and consultation.

and just updated

"We are pleased that, following constructive talks held with RMT yesterday, they have called of this Thursday's strike."

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, February 28, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

What the Japanese Metro can learn from the Tube

Toyko delegates coming to learn about......

How to keep a happy and strike free work force? How to ensure your subway system is the most expensive in the world? How to keep one of your lines in its own time zone - eg the Northern Line? How to stop people from spoofing your maps?

Well no. A team of delegates from Toyko are coming to London to learn about busking! Yay, London Underground have found something that they think the Japanese can learn from. "Six Tokyo Metro delegates, including Fusao Koike, Deputy Manager of International Affairs, will join senior LU officials on 1 March for a day-long visit of the Underground network, when they will get the opportunity to learn about the implementation and running of the scheme, and to discuss it with real life LU buskers."

Busker at Piccadilly Circus

The guy in charge of the Tube's busking scheme, Steve Charlick said of the visit: "We feel truly honoured that they have chosen our scheme on which to base their own."

"The London Underground busking scheme sponsored by Carling began in May 2003, after LU managed to change the laws and the bylaws to make busking legal on the Underground.

"The scheme has gone from strength to strength, and we now have nearly 300 licensed buskers providing passengers with over 3,360 hours of entertainment each week." Read the full story here.

Let's hope that on Wednesday the buskers polish their guitars, violins, didgerdoos and boom boxes and get out their best collection of songs.

Speaking of buskers you can check out one of the first "legalised buskers" who was interviewed on Radio 4 a couple of weeks ago. "When London Underground organized and formalized the tube busking situation in the early new millennium, Stephen was encouraged to take part in the TfL initiative and, figuring that almost all of his Blues heroes had used busking as an organic marketing and promotion tool, he enthusiastically took up the reins and the chance to broaden the Blues appeal to a much wider potential audience." from Stephen Dale Petit's website Guitararama. Thanks to Ian for telling me about this.

Perhaps now that Toyko are interested in busking we'll have buskers going on world tours as well as selling CDs and doing promotions for film companies!

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, February 28, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE


MC Hammer's Blog

Nowt to do with the Tube (well unless you count
Tube Fashion Victim - 3's MC Hammer influenced jeans) but through Gia I found out that MC Hammer has a blog - which she introduced with these wise words "How You Know That Blogs Have Gone So Far Mainstream That They've Gone Retro"

It's given me a great laugh for the last half hour. He only started it in February and he's using the free version of blogspot which is cool. I particularly love how he puts up pictures of his meals at fast food outlets. It rox!

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, February 28, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Monday, February 27, 2006

Love on the Tube - Part Two

Have you found / made love on the London Underground?

Regular readers may remember a couple of weeks ago that a guy from the University of Westminster was going to interview me for a radio show (
Smoke Radio) about whether it was possible to find love on the Tube. I waxed lyrical about my little knowledge on the subject, general lack of eye contact not making it easy, but how the proximity between people on crowded trains can lead to some "interesting" situations.

Amongst the people featured in the piece, there's a guy who said he fell madly in love with a stranger he saw on the Tube "she actually took my breath away", people who said they'd be too shy to chat up people, plus a guy who got married as a result of meeting someone on the Tube.

The producer, Mark, even managed to find one girl who admitted to making love on the Metropolitan Line, between King's Cross and Harrow on the Hill. She and her then boyfriend were in a carriage with eight other people in it (although they were both pretty drunk at the time). "After a bottle of vodka I really didn't care. Vodka's an evil thing, I can't say no", she said. Also the love making didn't appear to require a lot of effort: "It's surprising that you don't have to move at all while on the train, it does it all itself!"

If you have a spare ten minutes you can listen to the piece here (towards the bottom of the page). It's is nicely mixed with some chillout music and a poem from one of Mark's friends, about people's eyes meeting across a crowded Tube, or that James Blunt moment, as I like to call it.

; Posted by annie mole Monday, February 27, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Friday, February 24, 2006

Mayor Ken Livingstone Suspended for a month

Mayor Ken Livingstone Suspended Sheriff Ken Suspended for Shooting off

Not exactly Tube related but such a shocking story that I had to blog it and you never know it may well effect any negotiations about the next London Underground strike which as far as I know is still scheduled to take place on the 2nd March. "London's mayor has been suspended from office for four weeks for comparing a Jewish journalist to a concentration camp guard".

"The ban is due to begin on 1 March, but Mr Livingstone's representative said he may appeal to the High Court."

Check out the BBC for the full story and it's absolutely all over The Standard now.

Speaking of Ken, someone had rolled out an old game that was made about his wish to get rid of all of London's pigeons - "In light of Ken's recent announcement to prevent avian flu and stop feeding London's pigeons. We thought you'd like another little look at this old chesnut".

Ken's Pigeon Cull Game - click to play

; Posted by annie mole Friday, February 24, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Friday London Underground Competition

Where were these Tube pictures taken?

Regular readers may know that the last (and only time) I was in the States was last November when I was in
sunny San Francisco. So how did I manage to take a picture of this New York Subway sign for Times Square Station?

Not taken at Times Square Station

I took it yesterday somewhere on the London Underground, but where exactly did I take it? It's a bit blurry as I couldn't use a flash and I was also a fair bit away from the sign when I took the picture, so I didn't arouse the attention of London Underground staff.

The location of the next picture below is probably easier to identify. However, there's a bonus point if you can also say what the man on the tiles is doing as well which station it was taken at.

London Underground Station Tiles

As usual one guess only please and please leave both guesses at the same time. To enter leave your answer in the comments below along with your email address and/or your website / blog address. The competition closes on Sunday 5th March at 23.59 (GMT). In the event of a tie, Neil's paper clip selection will be used to select the final winner.

And the prize, a stick of London Tube rock, or if you're looking after your teeth, a copy of What's in a Name - a fantastic little book which explains the origins of every London Underground Tube & DLR station name. It also has a lot of other information including the year the station opened, and the name changes that have since occurred. Plus black and white photos of many of the stations or their immediate surroundings.

Sticks of Tube Rock What's In a Name - London Underground Station Name Origins


; Posted by annie mole Friday, February 24, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

London Underground Fashion Victims

Fashion Victims on the Tube

Back to the normal Friday look at commuters spotted on the London Underground who could be considered to be slaves to fashion. There's a bit of a theme this week which nods a bit at Nick Park's great Wallace & Gromit film
The Wrong Trousers. This week we have "The Long Trousers".

As everyone knows, there's a current trend to wear your trousers or jeans so that they are dragging across the floor. You may well be wearing a pair yourself. Amazingly I've never seen anyone trip up in them, so there must be an art to wearing them, or rather walking in them.

Long Trousers One

A nice example of the long trouser here. I think they were some form of track suit bottoms (I'm sure there's a trendier name from them, my boss was shaking her head at me last week as I had never heard of Converse shoes - but I digress), as you can just about see a zip up the back of them.

Long Trousers

Pair of long jeans

Here's a couple both wearing some particularly long jeans

Long Jeans

Baggy Trousers

This guy was wearing my personal favourites of the week. I love the particularly attractive way they all bunch up while he is sitting down in the classic "bloke on Tube with legs wide apart" way.

Baggy Jeans

That's it for this week. The previous entry for London Underground fashion victims is here and all of them together can be seen on the following Flickr set.

; Posted by annie mole Friday, February 24, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

A moments diversion - There's a fox on my garage

Urban Firefox

This morning I padded my way bleary eyed into the kitchen to put on the kettle. Just out of the corner of my eye I saw what I thought was a large ginger cat. It was a fox. I managed to leg it to my study and get back just in time to get a couple of pictures.

Fox on my Garage 1

Fox on my Garage 2

; Posted by annie mole Friday, February 24, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Thursday, February 23, 2006

More alternative Tube Maps - Commercial Map & Literary Map

London Underground Sponsoship Map & London Reading Map

Many thanks to regular commenters Jo, thereisnospoon and Stuart for letting me know about
a map that replaces station names with some puns by companies that could sponsor them - mirrored on a mirror of Geoff's site as it overloaded Paul's orginal server!

Sponsored London Underground Tube Map

We had actually discussed companies sponsoring Tube stations last year. Back in November I blogged about a Robert Elms (from BBC Radio London) debate that I went to on London Transport:

"Robert Elms rather enthusiastically said - "I know how we can make transport a lot cheaper, why don't we get McDonalds to sponsor station names. You know how we get free transport over the New Year cos of companies like Smirnoff and Fosters who sponsor it." So instead of Piccadilly Circus it could be called Ronald McDonald's Circus and loads cheaper travel or even free travel to that station. Interesting idea, which actually met with with a good laugh and approval in the studio audience. But I wonder if it would ever work?"

A number of you had come up with some funny suggestions and a number of them have been put into practice on this map.

Londonist were ahead of me on blogging this one - well done guys!

London Reading Tube MapLondon Reading Map

Now the next is not entirely accurate when it comes to the Tube map and locations as a lot of artistic licence has been used. It's the cover of a book - London by the Book - by Rough Guide in association with a campaign to "Get London Reading": "From Bloomsbury to Bromley, Geoffrey Chaucer to Zadie Smith, London by the Book is a guide to the city through writers and their writing. Packed with obscure and intriguing information (How did Graham Greene survive the bombing of his Clapham house in 1941? Which nineteenth-century poet was in the habit of sliding naked down the banisters?), it chronicles the waves of novelists, poets and playwrights who have lived in London over the centuries, written about it, and developed its identity as a result."

Copies are being given out at Earl's Court, Victoria, Farringdon and Angel stations next Monday & Tuesday, but you can also download it here.

However, Waterstones have prepared a far more accurate free London Reading Map which they are giving away in their shops. It has 100 of their favourite books on big map with the locations & scenes in London that the books are based in or feature heavily - eg Nick Hornby's Fever Pitch - Highbury, Monica Ali's Brick Lane (pretty obivous), The Witches of Chiswick (again fairly obvious). A number feature railways 4.50 from Paddington by Agatha Christie, Necropolis Railway by Andrew Martin (Waterloo) and A Metropolitan Murder by Lee Jackson (Baker Street). This would also make a prety cool alternative Tube map, although I'm not sure you could find a book for every one of the 275 London Undeground stations. Now there's a challenge!

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, February 23, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

And the next witness is........ an Oystercard

Oystercard walletSuspicious partners use Oystercard to track infidelities

Ian sent me a link to an article in Sunday's Independent, about how people were using Oystercard to track their partner's travel movements. "Oyster cards, the 'smart' little blue thing in London commuters' wallets that enable them to travel at will around the capital, have another, unexpected function. They could also be a one-way ticket to the divorce courts."

As your every journey is recorded on an Oystercard it seems a great way to spy on your partner if you are that way inclined. "The electronic lipstick-on-the-collar is revealed to anyone - the holder or their partner - who takes the card to a machine on the Underground or keys in its serial number on a website to get a read-out of every journey taken in the past 10 weeks.

One private investigator said:
'Oyster cards won't tell you that the bloke's been cheating on his wife, but it will show if he's been in one part of town when he's supposed to be somewhere else. It is an easy thing to confront your partner with. It doesn't look like you've been snooping around too much."

Personally I think it looks like you've been snooping around a lot. But I digress, returning to the article "Divorce lawyers said they were sceptical that Oyster cards would be used in divorce proceedings, but accepted that it could lead more people to realise their relationship was over.

"Lisa Fabian Lustigman
(top name), a family lawyer at city firm Withers LLP, said: 'I would never instruct a private investigator to try to track down someone's Oyster card records to prove adultery. I don't think it would be overwhelmingly helpful.'

"But it has already happened in Hong Kong, where a similar scheme was introduced eight years ago. Suspicious husbands and wives obtained print-outs of their spouse's travel card to use as evidence in divorce proceedings."

However, it looks like your Oystercard may become even more "useful", as through the article I learnt that Oystercard planners are trying to enable Oystercard holders to pay for their shopping in nearly 4,000 shops with their cards. "The records of where a person has shopped, as well as where they have travelled, will then be stored on the card." So then you'll not only be able to see where you might be cheated on, but what your partner is buying their lover too!

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, February 22, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Stand clear of the doors around the world

Mind the Doors

If you've been travelling around on the Tube recently you'll have seen these new ads on the London Underground encouraging you not to block the closing doors.

Please Don't Hold the Doors Open - London Underground Ad

Hopefully the implication is that you won't get cut in half like the pantomime horse they show!

Funnily enough I was recently sent some pictures from subways around the world and how they advertise the same point of not getting yourself stuck in closing doors.

Firstly, here's one from Italy of a man who appears to be lying in between the closing doors:

However, it's warning us not to lean on the doors as you might fall out of them if they suddenly open.

Then we have one from Japan with a cat with its tail trapped in the doors:

Finally another cartoon animal from France encountering some pain with a trapped hand:

So you have been warned those closing doors are dangerous particularly if you happen to be a cartoon character or a pantomime horse.

Unfortunately I'm one of those terrible people who often legs it for the Tube at the last minute as the doors are closing, block them with some part of my body, use Herculean force to prize them open and then slip myself into the carriage, as the doors slam behind me, much to the amusement or tuts of the rest of the passengers. This is often followed by stern telling off from the driver who says "Please do not block the doors while the train is trying to leave" or something similar. Is that just me?

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, February 21, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Spot Anthony Underground Dust Masker on the Tube and win an EP

Have you seen this man?

Or rather if you see him on the London Underground (with or without his dustmask) and go up to him and say "You are the Underground Masker and I claim my Bakerloo EP! , he will send you a soon to be released EP from the Underground Masker err... series.

For full rules pop over to Boltzmann's Tomb. Think of it as a Tube version of "Where's Wally?" or something.

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, February 21, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Monday, February 20, 2006

Victorian Railway Gadget Quiz Results

And the winner is......

Even though quite a lot of you made guesses in the
last quiz, very few of you were even close. In fact I can't really say that anyone got the answers exactly correct.

The first item that some of you guessed was a nipple clamp or some sort of weighing device or even a curtain hanger, was in fact a Victorian Skirt Lifter:

Victorian Skirt Lifter

As the description says "When climbing stairs or avoiding puddles the Victorian lady would pull on the leather strap attached to the lifter and up comes her skirt". It's an item that would have been easily used on the London Underground as the Victorians would have had far many more stairs to deal with on a regular basis as escalators were only introduced on the Tube in 1915, although some lifts existed before then.

Travellers Railway LampWith picture two more of you were in the the right ball park with a number of you saying that it was a lantern or a torch or some form of light. However, no one got the exact answer of a Traveller's railway lamp.

The description says "This lamp would hang from a luggage rack and reflect light directly onto the newspaper reading traveller".

Soooooo, the nearest person to both answers was actuallly Nez with his short answer of "a clothespin and a torch". I wouldn't say the lamp is strictly speaking a torch as it's not hand held - but no one else guessed that it wasn't hand held either. And Nez was the only person to mention something clothes related with the first guess. So Nez is the lucky winner of The London Underground - a Diagrammatic History by Douglas Rose, kindly donated by Graham O'Mara.

By the way, the "Wonderously Wacky Gadgets" exhibition, from where I took the pictures, is still on at the Kew Bridge Steam Museum and makes for an intriguing afternoon out. Up until 17th April you can "Come and delve into Maurice Collins bizarre collection and guess the obscure purpose of a host of eccentric contraptions....

Fascinating and humorous, this exhibition will intrigue and amuse and is a testament to human ingenuity and resourcefulness.

; Posted by annie mole Monday, February 20, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Friday, February 17, 2006

The Tube on TV Tonight

Sliding Doors and Map Man

If you're in the UK there are two London Underground treats on the telly tonight.

Gwynnie Paltrow puts on a great English accent in Sliding Doors. She plays a woman whose life follows very different paths depending on whether she catches the Tube that she is about to miss by a few seconds. "In one reality she finds out her boyfriend is a two-timing louse, so she leaves him and gets a cute new haircut. In her parallel world the hair is long and boring - very much like her life." Lots of the film is shot on the London Underground and you'll have fun spotting the many discrepencies and "artistic licence" taken. (If you don't get a chane to watch it
Nick Cooper has done a good job of this already on his site about the tube in TV and Films). Nevertheless Sliding Doors is quite an enjoyable British rom com. It's on at 11.05pm on BBC1.

UK TV History will be showing Map Man at 6pm (at at 7pm on UK TV History +1 - funnily enough). It's part of a series that looks famous maps "that changed the face of Britain" and tonight's episode focusses on Harry Beck the designer of the London Underground Map. I missed it when it was on terrestrial TV last year so will definitely be taping it tonight. I have a feeling that Mark Ovenden (whose brill talk we went to last year) is featured in it too.

; Posted by annie mole Friday, February 17, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tube Strikes for 21st February called off

Tube Strike Front Page of Evening StandardLondon Underground February Strikes called off

First driver's union ASLEF pulled out and now the RMT have done the same. RMT leader Bob Crow said yesterday regarding London Underground "The company has confirmed that it will not impose a range of new procedures, and we have agreed a way forward to deal with the issues involved."

However, we mustn't get our hopes up too high yet as the strike planned for the 2nd March is still on, if the issues surrounding SPADs (Signals Passed at Danger), harassment and other disciplinary measures are not resolved between the unions and the London Underground.

I love the way that Bob Crow finishes his statement: "Despite overwhelmingly hostile media coverage and a campaign of disinformation, our members have once again demonstrated determination and solidarity they should be proud of".

From the comments we've been having below involving Tube drivers and commuters, it appears that a lot of that disinformation has come from the RMT itself!

ASLEF appear to be taking a more concilliatory approach "ASLEF is not a union that postures or pretends. We are not in the business of strikes for their own sake. We don't like our members losing wages. Our aim is always to secure the best possible deal for members without calling for action. We know you want a resolution, not a strike."

London Underground said: "We welcome the decision to call off the strike next Tuesday. We have always made clear that the issues should be resolved through discussion. We will continue to meet to resolve the outstanding issues".

Watch this space for the latest on the threatened March strike, and continue to contribute to the lively discussion.

Latest at 15th February

Don't take my word for it yet, but rumour has it that the Tube strike for next Tuesday 21st February might be called off. See the BBC for more on this. "The first of a series of co-ordinated Tube strikes is in doubt after the main drivers' union said it would pull out, following talks with managers."

ASLEF said "There are issues that still require resolution for ASLEF to call off the dispute in its entirety. It is our intention to recommend the suspension of the strike set for the 21st of February 2006 to allow talks to progress further". Let's keep our fingers crossed.

Now hopefully Bob Crow's "love" letter to Tim O'Toole, managing director of London Underground, may also have a similar effect on negotiations.

As both announcements were made on February 14th, perhaps Valentine's day really is a day of love!

; Posted by annie mole Friday, February 17, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Two quick reminders - Design vote plus Victoriana Quiz

Get your votes and answers in

Taling about the Tube map,
Simon reminded us in the comments yesterday - "the "final 10" of the BBC Great British Design Quest is now available to vote on (was mentioned the other week on here when there were more to pick from) and the London Underground map is still in the running"

BBC Great British Design Quest

As you can see from the picture above, the Routemaster bus, the Mini (car not skirt) and Concorde are also in there, so there's a bit of a transport theme.

Victorian Railway Objects Quiz

You also have until 23.59 on Sunday 19th February to identify the two Victorian gadgets for the quiz from last Friday. There is definitely still a chance for someone to win the prize that Graham O'Mara kindly donated, as no one who has guessed so far isn't really that close on both counts. So if you haven't already guessed - pop across to the post and make your guesses. Good luck.

; Posted by annie mole Friday, February 17, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

The Art of the London Underground Poster

Tube Posters through Time

The Lure of the Underground poster

Speaking of the BBC, an article I had written some time ago for H2G2 (the BBC's online version of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy) has been selected as a "BBC Best Link", where they very kindly call it "A fascinating piece on the billposter art of the Tube"

BBC Best Link - The Art of the London Underground Poster


; Posted by annie mole Friday, February 17, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

London Underground Fashion Victims

Fashion Victims on the Tube

A slight change in my reglar Friday look at commuters spotted on the London Underground who could be considered to be slaves to fashion. I hardly spotted any worth picturing this week. It's been a somewhat busy week at work, and I've often had my head down reading something on the Tube or been asleep! But I thought I'd take a look at the delightful flourescent waistcoat that London Underground station assistants wear.

Station Assistant One

A nice example of the jacket here, with a woolly hat to keep his head warm in the drafty corridors and gusty platforms of the Tube

Station Assistant One

Station Assistant Two

Take the same waistcoat and put it on the woman and ..... well it's not a great look really

Station Assistant Two

I'm sure "a good fit" was probably the last thing on London Underground's mind when they designed these waistcoats and they're probably "one size fits all" or S, M, L, XL and XXL. This did look rather unfortunate on this woman, particurlarly the way it seemed to balloon out at the bottom. It also clashes with the Tube Blue sweater that she's wearing underneath. But then, I spose flourescent orange is hardly going to blend with anything!

That's it for this week. Hopefully, next week normal service will be resumed. The previous entry for London Underground fashion victims is here and all of them together can be seen on the following Flickr set.

; Posted by annie mole Friday, February 17, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Origins of Inspector Sands

From a livejournal siteThe "Mystery" of Inspector Sands

A week or so ago Paul from the US emailed me asking about the Inspector Sands announcements: "I was just wondering...How often can these messages be heard? How long have they been going on for, and can you still hear them today?"

I replied that they were very much still in existence (if you'd like to hear one click here) and although I had originally thought it was a code name for a small controllable, fire and that shouting "There's a fire but don't panic," would just have people legging it from stations in a panic stricken way. But I believe it's a code for the fact that a fire alarm has been mistakenly set off and that a staff member should go and investigate & turn it off. Well that's my theory and I'm sure someone will correct me.

Wikipedia says "Transport for London and the British Transport Police have not publicly stated what the codeword signifies and so its interpretation has been left to interested travellers."

However, I also wonder how long the London Underground has been using these announcements? I understand that they are also used in theatres and in fact that could have been the origin of them - although instead of Inspector Sands, it was Mr Sands.

Has anyone heard any other calls for Inspectors to sort out things on the Tube? Is there an Inspector Mopp who cleans up after drunks? What about an Inspector Killjoy who removes unauthorised buskers?

UPDATE - A regular commenter has sent me an MP3 of a Mr Sands announcement, asking for Mr Sands to get put out before Mr Inferno takes over! It's very funny and he heard it on the BBC Radio 4 comedy - The Department.

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, February 16, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Subway Singer gets last laugh

James Blunt wins two Brit Awards

Despite a variety of people moaning about him and calling him whiney (including many commenters to this blog). Despite Paul Weller saying he would rather eat his own s**t that do a duet with him.
James Blunt picked up two Brit Awards last night for Best Pop Act and Best Male Artist. His song You're Beautiful (about having a passing romantic moment with someone on the London Underground) is currently at number two in the American Billboard charts and is tipped to be number one. Shedloads (millions) of this record have been sold around the world now.

Well done James. It's good to see that he hasn't retorted to Weller's comments and also that he takes all the bland comparisons with a massive pinch of salt.

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, February 16, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Commuting Colds & Cautionary Tales

Spreading germs on public transport

Fingers crossed I seem to holding off a cold at the moment. Despite the changeable temperatures in London and the whole round of people in the office and on the Tube and trains with their "coughs and sneezes, spreading diseases"

Commuting Colds Cartoon in Metro

The cartoon above from Metro a few days ago, says it all really. Because you're often in a world of your own on the Tube, you feel as though you can hack and sneeze and sniff away blindly and no one will care! Not so.

As it's half term I had to listen to a mum giving her children a cautionary tale on the Tube about how they shouldn't spend so much time touching things on the Tube, and how they should wash their hands when they got to the Museum (Piccadilly Line, they were getting off at South Kensington).

"Why?" the little darlings said after they finished bouncing around on the seats. Their mum proceeded to then scare me and the rest of the carriage by saying, "Well you know how many people there are on this train. They will have had their hands everywhere. And I bet they don't wash their hands all the time. You've seen how dusty and dirty it is down here. You've seen some of those smelly tramps get on and they don't wash themselves very often, so all of those germs and all of that dirt spreads around. That's why we always have to wash our hands".

Thanks Mum, a little over the top, but it did the trick for the kids who looked like they were going to be sick. We all know how many people believed the urban myth about what's found on London Underground seats, so this was the kids' equivalent of that!

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, February 15, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Two Valentine's Presents already!

Chocolates and Cuddly Toys

Ahhh, bless. I've just received two surprise Valentines gifts. One was a link to
Chocolate Boyfriend from Schmoof who purely co-incidentally I mentioned on Monday with their London Underground "love" song "Northern Line". I lurve their other song Chocolate Boyfriend (Neil's seen me dance to it) and the band - Sarah & Lloyd - kindly sent me the link by email. Enjoy - it rocks big time!

European Weblog Awards - Please vote in the Best UK Blog categoryPlus I'm up for another Award that I didn't even know I'd been nominated for - The Satin Pajama afoe European Weblog Awards, where I've been nominated for Best UK Blog from A Fistful of Euros along with Londonist - D'OH. Anyway the logo is a Teddy Bear wrapped in an EU Flag, wearing a Santa Hat! Bizarre. Well you know me, never one to shy away from votes, so many thanks to whoever nominated me. Feel free to vote away. There's lots of other good blogs to vote for including Neil Gaiman (author of Neverwhere and other cult classics), My Boyfriend is a Twat and Tom Coates. I have no idea what the prizes are, or when the voting closes - but hey ho!

Happy Valentine's Day to anyone who's going to be celebrate it. Happy Birthday to Doris one of my elderly relatives. And have a good Tuesday to everyone else.

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, February 14, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Manager who took FA Cup home by Tube

You'd never see this on the London Underground today!

On Friday, the back page of
The Times caught my eye with this picture of a man carrying a bulky parcel on the Tube and a woman who looked liked she's stepped out of Coronation Street circa 1950's/1960's scowling at him. Probably, no thoughts of bombs with this suspicious looking package though:

Manager who took FA Cup home by Tube

As The Times said: "Regular passengers on the London Underground are hard to shock, but Ron Greenwood turned heads in May 1964 when he took the FA Cup home on the Tube"....

"Legend has it that Greenwood wrapped the trophy in a cloth to avoid attracting too much attention. Asked by a fellow passenger what he was hiding, the West Ham manager had the perfect answer. 'Sweet FA,' he said."

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, February 14, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Chilling Echo of the London Bombings

Yet another conspiracy theory

I do love the amount of "conspiracy theories" there were around the London Bombings or rather people trying to bring
Derek Acorah style psychic powers to stories around them. Firstly, we had that Peter Power PR bloke with his "London Underground Bombing 'Exercises' Took Place at Same Time as Real Attack" nonsense (I refuse to even credit that story with a link, you can find it yourself). But the best I've seen recently is one which Londonist found in the Daily Record:

"BOND PLOT MIRRORS 7/7 KILLING screams the headline:

The plot of James Bond's latest movie mirrors the real life killing of the Brazilian shot by police in London after the 7/7 terror bombings. A leaked script reveals 007 shoots a suspected bomber only to discover later that he got the wrong person and his target was unarmed... chilling echoes of the events of last July when Brazilian Jean Charles de Menzes
(sic) was mistaken for a suicide bomber and shot dead.

As Rob from Londonist rightly says: "Chilling echoes? It's the plot of Casino Royale for God's sake.......Now, if the producers had decided to make Daniel Craig go for a piss while he was supposed to watching his suspect and then built a huge soundstage to recreate the magic of Stockwell (MI6 is just up the road) we might possibly be able to permit the use of the phrase 'chilling echoes'."

Loving that The Daily Record couldn't even spell Jean Charles de Menezes' surname correctly. But they redeemed themselves by reporting the only outrageously amusing story about the Winter Olympics (yawn) I've heard so far - as Rob reports in the same post - "Curling's for Lezzas says Eddie the Eagle" where "Ski Jump flop Eddie "the Eagle" Edwards has branded Scotland's Olympic-winning curlers a bunch of lesbians."

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, February 14, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Monday, February 13, 2006

Love on the Tube

Have you ever found love on the London UndergroundLove on the London Underground

It's Hallmark Day tomorrow (sorry Valentine's Day), and next week I'm being interviewed as part of a student radio project for the University of Westminster on "Love on the Underground" on
Smoke Radio. As I said to the guy who will be interviewing me very few people have reported tales of lurve on the Tube to me.

The best I had was from Rachel Berstone who signed my guestbook: "I actually have friends who met on the Tube and are now married! It helps, I think, that he is French and she is Australian, so the rules about not talking to fellow passengers are somewhat relaxed for foreigners.

It all happened on the Piccadilly line - she was going from home to a class at college in Russell Square, and he was travelling from his girlfriend's house to work. She was curious to see him reading (aloud, in French) excerpts from that very romantic play - Cyrano de Bergerac. He went past his stop to follow her, and invited her to go with him for coffee, on the spot. They did, and a few weeks later they met for dinner, and the rest is history.... now they are married, and live abroad with their three kids - which just goes to show, you can meet your future partner on the Tube!

On Heart FM today, I heard that some guy fell madly in love instantly with a woman he met on the Tube, he got off the train straight away and got her name tattooed on his leg. Unfortunately he's never seen her since! Perhaps he can track her down with Isawyoutoday.com or use LoveLines on snogLondon to find the most likely liine for lurve.

Metro are also looking for romantic Tube stories and hopefully they will publish these tomorrow!

Don't forget there's the London Underground Tunnel of Love Valentine's Tour tomorrow, and you could always buy you loved one "You're Beautiful" the only Tube related love song I know (well apart from Schmoof's Northern Line, but I don't think you can buy that yet).

If you have any romantic London Underground related tales I'd love to hear them.

; Posted by annie mole Monday, February 13, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Anagram London Underground Map

This Rhythmic & Mismate train is stopping at Frog Innard, Tasted Algae and Apt Nodding

Thank you to the dozens of people who have now said "saw this and thought of you" and "have you seen this?" - it's the fantastic London Underground Tube Map where someone has made
brilliant anagrams from every Tube station's name.

London Underground Anagram Map

It rocks - there's not much more to say about it than that really. Originally seen by someone who had the foresight to send it to BoingBoing it went global in a matter of minutes (which is why I spose from Friday onwards a number of you emailed me about it - thanks for taking the time to do that though!)

I really like the way that whoever designed this (Stuart who's now signed in on the comments - yay!), decided to do the names of the lines too.

Anagram Tube Map

Anyway, click here for perfect way to while away lots of time. You may never be able to look at your own station name in the same way again! Inch Dorm is highly appropriate for Richmond as the train inches its way into my home (dorm) station, the last stop on the Cist Dirt Line!

; Posted by annie mole Sunday, February 12, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

The Tunnel of Love

For an unusual Valentine's Gift

Robert Hulse, the brill curator of the
Brunel Museum sent me the following email "Hello blog mistress! It's happening again, in all its salacious & suggestive wonder. Do please advertise this unusual Valentine evening..."

How could I not respond to a message like that? Anyone who has been on the excellent innuendo ridden Wapping Shaft Thames Tunnel tour between Rotherhithe and Wapping stations will know it should be fun. So I will hand over to Robert:

Tunnel of Love Tour

"Many beautiful women and handsome young men have entered the Thames Tunnel
before you. The first was Fanny Kemble, who in 1827 descended what she called 'the
beautiful road to Hades' to meet Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

'But I must tell you what this tunnel is like, or at least try to do so. You enter, by flights of stairs, the first door, and find yourself on a circular platform, which surrounds the top of a well or shaft, of about two hundred feet in circumference and five hundred in depth. This well is an immense iron frame of cylindrical form, filled in with bricks; it was constructed on level ground, and then, by some wonderful mechanical process, sunk into the earth. In the midst of this is a steam engine, and above, or below, as far as your eye can see, huge arms are working up and down while the creaking, crashing, whirring noises, and the swift whirling of innumerable wheels all around you, make you feel for the first few minutes as if you were going distracted.'

Above is an extract from her story. The full text, in embossed souvenir folder, with a print of the Underwater Banquet held the same year, is offered as an unusual Valentine Card for your partner. The Brunel Engine House is releasing fifty prints, complete with a certificate of authenticity, and signed by another actress from our time, Zoë Wanamaker. The card can be ordered from the shop on the website for £15, please specify collection on Valentine's Day.

We look forward to welcoming you on 14th!

For full details visit the Brunel Engine House website.

Brunel's BritainRobert also says if you are otherwise engaged on Valentine's Day: "The Museum is also launching a new paperback version of the classic 'Brunel's Britain' by Derrick Beckett. Copies will be available, ahead of publication and at a reduced price of £10 for visitors to the Museum. This is the perfect Valentine gift for the Tunneller in your life!

On Valentine's Day we remember that science and love are both hard mistresses. This is a book and gazetteer with excellent technical appendices. Students will find help and formulae on launching monster ships, tunnelling deeply but safely and making perfect arches...

'Little Man, Big Cigar!'

Visit the website for information on other available dates. These include Thames Tunnel tours during Science Week (March 11, 12 and 18, 19) and on March 25, the Anniversary of the Tunnel's opening in 1843.

Cheers Robert!!!

; Posted by annie mole Sunday, February 12, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Friday, February 10, 2006

Friday Quiz and Competition - Victoriana

What are these Victorian railway gadgets?

This week's competition has the very generous sponsor of Graham O'Mara, regular commenter on this blog, who has kindly offered a great prize. A few weeks ago me and
Neil went to a small exhibition in the London area where there were lots of weird and wonderful gadgets from Victorian times up to the 20th century. I took a picture of a couple of "gadgets" that could have been used on the railway or in one case, even on the London Underground at the time. I'd like you to try to identify them.

Picture One - What is this Victorian device?

No wise cracks about being able to see my Samsung camera in the background of the first picture!

And here's picture two:

Picture Two - What is this Victorian device?

So what are they? As usual, please make one attempt at a guess only. Points will be given to the most accurate answers. You have until 23.59 GMT on the 19th February to make your guess and to enter please leave either your email addres and/or website/blog in the comments below.

The London Underground: A diagrammatic historyOh and the prize. It's a copy of the "The London Underground: A diagrammatic history" by Douglas Rose. It's not exactly a book but a large format "map of the London Underground showing exactly when every line (and segment of line) and every station was opened and any subsequent closures, as well as all the changes in station names. There are a few odd explanatory paragraphs, but most of the information lies in the map"

"This is a must have for anyone studying the history of the London Underground as it clearly shows what happened and makes it much easier to see and understand."

Once again, thanks to Graham for sponsoring the quiz and have fun with competition!

; Posted by annie mole Friday, February 10, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

London Underground Fashion Victims

Fashion Victims on the Tube

Here's my regular Friday look at commuters spotted on the London Underground who could be considered to be slaves to fashion. It's often people who have taken a fashionable look and "made it their own" (apologies to Louis Walsh off X Factor), regardless of whether or not it looks good on them. However, this week I'm going to start with one from National Rail but with a Tube connection.

Brand Boy

The guy below was very brand conscious, Apple iPod, tick, Nike jacket, tick, London Underground baseball cap, tick

Brand Boy with London Underground Baseball Cap

I've only ever seen one guy with one of these caps on before and people assured me then that they're very popular with the yoof of today. Although you can't really see from this photo, there's not a station name inside the Tube Roundel on the cap but the word "South" to signify what part of London he's from.

Metallic trainers and Diamond tights

It's probably just me here, but I just think this look is sooooo WRONG. As regular readers know, I'm not wild about metallic anything when it comes to clothing and footwear. But I didn't like this mix of the fairly casual trainers with the smart black trousers and the diamond tights added insult to injury for me. It's probably because I'm a socks with trousers kind of girl.

Metallic Trainers and Diamond Tights

Metallic Trousers and Platform Boots

Very weird look here, and just in case anyone thinks that the woman wearing these loose shiny trousers was Asian, she wasn't! I marvelled as to how she'd be able to walk in those platforms and on those heels.

Metallic Trousers and Platform Boots

The Low Slung Trouser Girls

Not really too much for me to say here, but a good example of Low slung waisted trousers working in unison. On the left we have the Low Slung Twiggy Shorts. On the right the more traditional length of low slung trousers.

The Low Slung Trouser Girls

To their credit though at least their G Strings or knickers weren't riding up above the waistbands of their trousers.

That's it for this week. The previous entry for London Underground fashion victims is here and all of them together can be seen on the following Flickr set.

; Posted by annie mole Friday, February 10, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The next stop is Piccadilly Circus ....... Toronto

Pubs named after Tube Stations

My friend Richard from
clickairport.com was looking at my blog recently and prompted by the post where people had sent me pictures of the London Underground roundel in strange places, remembered that he had one from Toronto.

Piccadilly Circus Pub Sign in Toronto

As you can see it's the neon sign of a pub/club called the Piccadilly Circus.

I checked out the pub on the net and it's an English theme pub or rather "From pub food and drinks in the evening to club DJ and dancing at night, Piccadilly Circus is equipped to be Toronto's #1 entertainment center. With a games room, DJ & dance floor, authentic double decker bus, surround televisions with satellite, insane and ingenious theme nights, and affordable and competitive prices Piccadilly Circus caters to all your partying needs." It rocks!

I particularly like the picture of some of the insane party goers with the Jordan/Pete Burns lookalike on the right:

Piccadilly Circus club night

It was also voted voted Best College Bar in 2004 by toronto.com. I also love the following promotion on the 16th February which is so good it's in block capitals:


That's right, they pay YOU to go to the pub. I'm booking my flight to Toronto right now!

Cheers Richard, you never actually told me whether you ventured in to check out Piccadilly Circus's insanity.

On a separate point, I wonder how many other pubs around the world are named after Tube Stations or share the same name? Elephant and Castle seems to get about a bit, both in the UK and abroad. We also have brand new King George V on the City Airport extension of the DLR, where a pub name could have influenced the station name!

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, February 09, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE