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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 31, 2006

Sleeping on the Tube

How to wake up fellow commuter

The Central Line must be fairly boring, as while I was on the way out last night I sat opposite two sleepers. Fortunately they had decided not to fall asleep towards each other.

Sleeping on the Central Line

The guy on the left displayed the wiser trick of using his hand to prop him up and sitting next to the glass partition also helps. But the Patrick Kielty lookalike on the right was spark out, with nothing to support him. As the journey wore on he slouched further and further over, so that he was leaning on the guy whose arm you can just see on the far right of this picture.

This particular man was trying to read a paper and obviously wasn't too keen with having someone asleep on his arm. After a while he did what I would have done and jerked his arm so that sleepy denim Patrick Kielty bloke bolted upright and then started sleeping with his head tilted backwards.

Not the most comfortable position in the world and possibly having a sixth sense that he was coming towards his station, he didn't sleep like that for long. When the Tube stopped he woke up and sleepily looked around the carriage. A little disorientated, he stumbled towards the door, and got off at St Paul's. I'm not sure if St Paul's was his station, as he stood for a few seconds at the foot of the escalator as if wondering whether to go up or not. The train pulled off at that point, so it'll remain a mystery.

There are a number of times that I've done what the denim bloke did in terms of waking up just as a train has stopped and having to decide in a split second whether you're at the right station. The worst thing is if you're travelling on a fairly empty train, at a stop you're not familiar with. You can then stand half asleep on the wrong side of the carriage waiting for the doors to open, when they've already opened behind you and the train then leaves you standing like a fool, too tired to realise what has happened until it's too late.

The sleepy denim bloke clearly needed a "Wake me up at" set of stickers.

Wake me up at.... stickers

But I wonder how many people would have woken him up at his required stop? The man who jerked him awake only did so because he didn't want to be used as a human pillow. Or perhaps he did have the "Wake me up if I dribble on your shoulder" sticker on and I couldn't see it? Do you have a particular tactic for waking people up if they sleep on you? Or do you grin and bear it and ease yourself away when you need to leave? And what about yourself as a sleeper, have you been woken up in a particularly interesting way?

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, May 31, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Ads on London Underground worth £800 million

Viacom win largest transport advertising contract in the world

Many thanks to
Gigi for pointing out that Viacom Outdoor have won what's believed to be the largest transport advertising contract in the world and will supply the London Underground and Victoria Coach station with ads for the next eight and half years.

"It includes management and maintenance of all advertising locations across London's Tube network, consisting of 33,000 poster sites at 275 London Underground stations, as well as 88,000 panels inside Tube trains. The Victoria Coach Station contract includes advertising rights for the busiest station in the UK...Viacom Outdoor has been responsible for managing advertising across London's Underground system for the last 12 years."

Ads at Charing Cross Station 1894 from The Moving Metropolis

Elsewhere a group of people who believe that we should be "re-claiming back" our space on the Tube appear to be falling fairly short of the pledge they are making concerning "Art not Ads". Austin Plunkett has said "I will pay £10 into a fund that aims to fill a public advertising space with something thought-provoking but only if 350 other people will too".

This pledge has been up since November and closes on the 1st June, so there's only a couple more days for the 230 other people required to make the pledge to pay for an ad on the Tube which will in Austin's words "display of a work of art, poem, extract from a philosophical text, or something else equally thought-provoking, in place of the usual advertising campaigns."

Ads at Trocadero station on the Paris MetroI've placed a number of comments on this page stating that ads on the Underground at the moment are far fewer than they used to be in Victorian & Edwardian times, when you could hardly read the station names for ads (see picture above). They are also far less intrusive & prolific than the ads on the Paris Metro platforms, for example. I do think the pledge is a reasonably well meaning idea, but I also think it's misguided and at the end of the day believe people won't put their money where their mouths are.

True, 120 people have signed up, but that's really not a lot since last November. Also this particular campaign presumes that none of the advertising campaigns on the Tube currently displays "a work of art, poem, extract from a philosophical text, or something else equally thought-provoking", which is quite frankly incorrect.

Granted some of it is rubbish, and if ads offend you, you have recourse in the Advertising Standards Association. I think many ads on the Tube are funny, thought provoking and certainly display a fair amount of art. How many ads on the Tube are for museums and art galleries for example? What about the groundbreaking Poems on the Underground series which many other subway networks have now copied? What about Transport for London's own "Platform for Art" series? Let's not forget that Viacom also give away an amount of their unused ad space to charities, so they're not complete money grabbing capitalists!

I have no idea how much of the £800 million contract actually goes to Transport for London, and how much goes to Viacom, but ads on the London Underground definitely subsidise our fares & the service to some extent. I'd rather look at a bit advertising (or read a paper or look at something else if the ads offend me so much) rather than pay higher Tube fares. What's your view of all this? Would you be prepared to pay a tenner to Austin's fund, so that one or two ads out of 121,000 are funded by "you"? Or are you happy with seeing ads on the Tube?

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, May 30, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Last train on the Victoria Line

Victoria Line 150 stuck for two hours on the Victoria Line

Some people had a great end to the Bank Holiday weekend last night, when they were stuck on a Victoria Line train outside of Highbury & Islington station at midnight. Apparently the driver had stalled and it took hours to get the train working again. So the passengers had to walk over a mile to Finsbury Park, from where they were all given lifts home. That's taking delays to your journey a tad too far.

Update - I've just had a message from The Guardian, wanting to know if you were one of the people stuck on the train as they would like to talk to you. Please email me if you were and I'll put you in touch with the journalist. Ta!

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, May 30, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Messing about on the river

A calmer form of transport

Fortunately, I hardly used the Tube this Bank Holiday weekend. Me and
Neil took the opportunity of the one day of sunshine to see some rabid dogs:

Rabies Prevention

Fortunately Teddington Lock doesn't have many rabid dogs, and this fluffy little creature on the right spent more time sniffing the ground than snarling and foaming at the mouth.

Turk Launches from Richmond put on a leisurely river boat "cruise" from Richmond to Hampton Court. The Huckleberry Finn style paddle steamer left the very un deep South pier near The Slug & Lettuce and we had to time to take in the river "traffic"

Turks Riverboat Cruises

From some nice barges
Morgan Le Fay

To some not so nice ones

Derelict Barges

Good to see that our riverboat had puntastic names for the loos:

Buoys Gulls

Fimb you're welcome to add to your toilet blog!

Neil's taken some cool black and white pictures if you want to see more of the trip, and it was certainly good to have some transport in London without a scrum.

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, May 30, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Friday, May 26, 2006

London Underground Fashion Victims

Fashion Victims on the Tube

Here's this week's look at people who could be seen as slaves to fashion or have a particular fashion "style" that they've made their own. Again we've had unseasonably bad weather in London, and a mixture of people wearing wintery hats, sandals, anoraks and T shirts.

OHMIGOD It's Kenny's Sister Again

You might remember Kenny's Sister from
some time ago

OHMIGOD They've snapped Kenny's Sister on the London Underground

Well I'm pretty certain this is Kenny's other sister with her hood up even though she was under cover at Hammersmith.

Kenny's Sister Again

I had to blur the background a bit as there were too many people standing behind her for you to see the sleeveless hooded anorak, which looks remarkably to the one the first woman was wearing.

Leopard Skin Trimmed Uggs

Ah it's about time we had an Ugg style boot again. It's hard to see here but they were trimmed with a sort of Leopard Skin fur.

Leopard Skin Uggs

With a designer looking carrier, drainpipe jeans and distressed hair she looks very "footballer's wife/girlfriend".

Studded Metallic Bag

Just when you thought I hadn't spotted any metallic bags for a while. Well, I have, loads of them in fact. I was hoping they would die out but they are still here. This one merited blogging though as it as those little eyelet holes in them, so that the bag can breathe more easily I presume!

Studded Metallic Bag

This bag was nestling on the lap of a woman in her late fifties, so you would have thought she might have been a tad too old to be swayed by the metallic bag trend. Sadly not.

Hats with badges

As Mags rightly noted in the comments on last week's fashion victims, I'm not a great fan of badges. Well I'm not a fan of badges that are worn on bags or hats. If you're going to wear a badge, why not wear it on your lapel or on your clothes?

Badge on cap

Here we have a button badge on a Fidel Castro style cap.

Below him is what I can only describe as a flowery felt fez

Saxophone on hat

Very "unusual" hat with the addition of a little saxophone badge/brooch which almost got lost amongst the vibrant flowers.

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, May 26, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

London Transport Cinema Ad

Gordon Ramsay in London Transport AdTfL's sexy new cinema ad

I went to see Brick last night (BTW fab film, really dark, involving, intelligent, high school thriller without girls running around screaming - starring the excellent Joseph Gordon-Levitt - Tommy, out of 3rd Rock from the Sun). In the ads before the film they showed London Transport's new cinema ad.

Apparently it's the first time they had an ad showing bus, tube, taxi, cycling and a river boat all together. A hip young guy travels around London using all of those methods of transport in one day, while doing a sort of witty rappy style poem / monologue. "I bought a cookery book written by a footballer", "I had Oysters after using my Oyster". At the end of the day he takes his date back to his flat, snogs her and shuts the door with a "nudge, nudge, wink, wink" look on his face. Then, the little monkey, goes through the same thing again with a different girl in the very next frame. London Transport just got sexy!

It's shot quite well and Gordon Ramsay (the footballer who wrote cookery book) features in the ad too, as hip young guy bumps into him (like you do) a few frames after buying his book.

The last London Transport ad I saw in the cinema must have been a couple of years ago and featured people playing cricket and bowls and was all a bit staid and "British", so it's good to see the trendy new ad.

Although I think you'd be hard pushed to use all five forms of transport in one day. Perhaps they should have thrown in a trip on the DLR and a tram ride in Wimbledon just to add to the mix.

; Posted by annie mole Friday, May 26, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Friday's Quiz - Win some London Underground Socks

How well do you know the London Transport Musuem?

If you are free today at 11am or 2pm and on the same times this Saturday you can go on one of the Acton Museum Depot's guided tours of the London Transport Museum collection. The collection is being housed there temporarily while the Museum undergoes a makeover.

Answer the following questions and you can win a pair of black London Underground Map socks. The museum shop currently sells white pairs!

1. The London Transport Museum will open in the spring next year. How much money will have been spent on the improvements?

2. When the London Underground began in 1863, steam trains were used underground. When did the last steam train carrying passengers run on the Tube?

3. The Bakerloo Line celebrated its centenary earlier this year. Which line celebrated its centenary immediately before the Bakerloo & in what year?

4. In the lifts at Covent Garden (the nearest Tube station to the museum) there used to be a recording of a famous voice saying "Turn right into the Piazza for one of my favourite museums - The London Transport Museum". Whose voice was it?

5. In what year do you think the black socks were made? I don't know the exact year, but when's the latest they could have been produced?

6. The socks are supposedly men's socks fitting size 6 - 11. What's my shoe size?

To enter leave your answers in the comments below with your email address and/or website/blog. One entry only please, and leave all six answers at once. You have until 23.59 GMT Sunday 4th June to enter and as usual those with the most points will go into Neil's paperclip selection to select the final winner.

Have fun!

; Posted by annie mole Friday, May 26, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Thursday, May 25, 2006

First Class Service on the London Underground

Ah, those were the days

Bring back service like this on the London Underground. A nice lunch, waiter service, drinks, string quartet in the background. Why isn't every day like this on the Tube?

Jubilee Line Opening May 1979

Just in case you haven't guessed from the attire of the ladies delicately tucking into their meals, this picture is from the 1970's. May 1979, in fact and marked the opening of the Jubilee Line. At Bond Street station passengers were treated to a string quartet and a nice meal.

If I was travelling quite a long way on the Tube, I'd like to have a meal. But it'll never happen again will it. You'd need to go back to the times when there were first class compartments on the London Underground (a Victorian and Edwardian trend).

Goodness knows what sort of premium you would have to pay if there were first class carriages on the Tube now. But I wonder how many people would be prepared to pay it? You'd have to be guaranteed a seat. Walkmans and mobile phones would be banned. Your Metro would be freshly ironed and you could have your own personal announcer, politely telling you which stations you were approaching. He or she could also give helpful information about the area. Any other suggestions for a first class service?

Speaking of polite announcements Martin sent me an announcement when his train finished at White City. He said "usually when that happens we get an "All change please", or the rather rude "Please leave the train."

Today, the driver made the announcement himself, wished us a good day, and played a recording I hadn't heard before - "Thank you for travelling on the Central Line"

It brightened up my day in a little way."

Martin managed to captured the recording on his mobile phone, which you can hear here.

A nice little bit of politeness and courtesy goes a long way!

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, May 25, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Tube Pastimes

No book, no ads, no day dreaming..... get out those needles

If you haven't got a book or a paper to read, and you're bored of the ads and you can't be bothered to people watch, there's another great way to pass the time on the Tube. Knitting.

Tube Knitter

Knitting seems to be the new rock and roll right now. I'm amazed at the amount of knitting blogs there are (many link to this blog - cheers guys and gals - quick hi to MH - Witty Knitter, Wendy & Queer Joe three of my favourites), plus there's loads of knitting groups which aren't just the realm of little old ladies who smell of lavender and cough sweets. There are "Stitching and bitching" groups forming around the world faster than you can say knit one, pearl one.

I took the picture of the knitter above yesterday. It was the Metrosexual man that I spotted at the end of March. Before we had been wondering if his brightly coloured cardi was a present from granny, but I imagine he actually knitted it himself. And I imagine that his big "man bag" was a home for his knitting paraphernalia.


There's even a group of knitters called Cast Off which I blogged about some time ago, who have regular "knitmeets" on the Circle Line

Circle Line Knitters

I spose knitting on the Tube makes a lot of sense. It's like a more practical version of doing a crossword puzzle. A great way of keeping occupied for a few stops, but at the end of the day you get a nice pair of socks or a scarf!

Is there anything you do on the Tube that doesn't follow the usual pattern of reading, snoozing, staring or sudoku?

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, May 24, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Optical Underground

Tube glasses

A while back I asked people to send me any strange uses of the London Underground roundel or logo, that they had spotted on their travels.
Daniel Kirkdorffer kindly sent me an excellent picture of an opticians he spotted on a trip to San Francisco.

Optical Underground

I love the little glass display case you can see at the front of the shop which also carries the logo. Plus looking at their website they have "Underground Specials" too - perhaps they are responsible for the sunglasses people are wearing in the Tube!

Cheers Daniel, and if anyone else has any pictures of the roundel doing the rounds please email them to me.

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, May 24, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Mind the Gap Doormat

Good for the Garden

If I hear one more person say "good for the garden" about the rubbish wet weather we are having, I will scream. Like most people who pay water bills, yesterday I received a letter from Thames Water saying that "a few wet days won't be enough to make a difference" to the "current drought". Have they looked out of the window in May - we have had more than "a few wet days". Anyway, I'm not getting started on this, as somebody with a degree in meteorology is bound to say "But they're right, we have got a drought and we've had less rain than Texas etc etc....."

Mind the Gap doormatI would, however like to thank Virginia Gal for letting me know about something that I will be buying as a result of the "few wet days". This fab "Mind the Gap doormat" from BBC America is ideal to sopping up the rain from my waterlogged All Stars or hopefully "puts a smile on your face while removing dirt and dust from your shoes." Better still "this attractive doormat springs back to shape despite constant use. Created exclusively for BBC America Shop in association with the London Transport Museum. Durable, resilient, unaffected by moisture or dampness." It'll need to be to cope with this wet weather.

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, May 23, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

London Underground Litter Bugs

Do you get fined for leaving Tube litter?

We've had a recent spate of people in the news getting fined seventy five quid or something for
dropping a crisp, or a cigarette butt. So how much would the person be fined for leaving this mess on the Piccadilly Line last night?

Piccadilly Line Litter

London Underground would have a field day if they had members of staff pouncing on commuters with the speed that certain local councils around the country have been fining people.

Is there a fine for blatantly leaving rubbish around as in the picture above? Or would we all get fined for leaving behind newspapers on the Tube?

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, May 23, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Monday, May 22, 2006

Are you up for a chat on the Tube?

Campaign to encourage Tube chatting

Since running
goingunderground and this blog I've seen a number of attempts to try to get people talking on the London Underground. Personally, I quite like being left to my own devices on the Tube and am not really fond of a random person trying to strike up a conversation with me. I spose it's because the people who usually try to strike up conversations with you are a little err.... less than err ... normal.

Tony Blair on the Tube

There's the instance of Tony Blair trying to converse with a woman during one of his rare visits on the Tube. The woman very famously ignorned him, preferring to stare into space and listen to her walkman instead.

Now Hannah has set up a campaign, complete with badges to pass on, to get people to chat on the Tube. The idea is that you wear a badge saying "I'm up for a chat on the Tube". If someone then chats to you, you pass the badge onto them so they can "spread the lurve" and then you write to Hannah for another badge and the chatting goes on. Nice idea, and apparently Rolf Harris has a badge!

I'm up for a chat on the Tube badgeOn Friday I went to the post Zone 1 challenge piss-up, the majority of the challengers were wearing Hannah's badges although only Pete Lupton aka Fat Bouy had passed his on. Hannah was one of the challengers herself and I had a chat with her, and she gave me one of the last badges she had on her.

Zone 1 Tube Challenge 2006

When me & Neil left the pub and got onto a fairly busy Friday night Tube wearing our badges, no one seemed particularly willing to strike up a conversation with us, but this was in the chucking out time period, so most people were chatting away amongst themselves anyway.

So if you want the join the ranks of Rolf Harris, the Zone 1 Tube challengers and over 200 other badge owners, pop along to Hannah's site and send her a SAE to get chatting!

; Posted by annie mole Monday, May 22, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tube Challenge Quiz Answers

And the winner is.......

Speaking of the Tube Challenge, here are the answers to the

1. Identify the people in this picture from last year's zone 1 challenge:

Anthony Smith, Adham Fisher, Erin Faulkner, Geoff Marshall and Neil Blake

2. Who won last year's Zone 1 challenge and what was the winning time?

Hakan Wolge & Patrick Sillen in two hours 56 minutes 51 seconds

3. What is the nationality of last year's zone 1 winner/s?


4. In which year did Guinness first publish a Tube Challenge World Record?


5. What's wrong with the image below?

What's wrong with this image

It's Neil in the picture although the caption says Geoff

6. How many people took part in last year's Charity "Tube Relief" Challenge in aid of the victims from the London Bombings?


7. Name one of the people who took part in Tube Relief. You must name a person that someone else has NOT already mentioned.

You can see the names of most of the people who entered here.

The people who answered most correctly were Fimb, Michelle, Munks and James Gommon and Neil did the paperclip selection & the winner of Tunnel Vision (kindly donated by Graham O'Mara) is...... Michelle.

; Posted by annie mole Monday, May 22, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Friday, May 19, 2006

Acton Museum Depot Open Weekend & Zone 1 Tube Challenge

Acton Museum Depot Open Weekend picture taken by FimbMaking Connections: Past, present and future

Thanks to Fimb for noticing that the Acton Museum Depot has another open weekend. the Depot holds the majority of the London Transport Museum's collection and while the Museum itself is being re-furbished, holds the occaisonal open weekend. This weekend you can get a chance to see an exhibition of historic photographs, many of which have never been seen before.

"The Museum's team of volunteers have been examining, cleaning and digitally scanning a large collection of pre-war glass negatives held in temperature controlled storage.

The Museum invites visitors to connect photographs with objects now in the Museum's collection at the Depot and recognise images of London scenes from the past. This year also marks the 150th anniversary of the London General Omnibus Company (LGOC) and visitors to the Depot over this weekend will see a number of buses from the LGOC period

To find out more visit the London Transport Museum website. Hopefully, this will be one weekend where there aren't engineering works affecting Acton Town, so you might actually be able to make it there by Tube!

Zone 1 Challenge

Just a quick reminder that it's the Zone 1 Tube Challenge today with about thirty people legging it around the zone's 64 stations in the fastest possible time. I'll update with results later on today. If you're in town tonight and would like to join them in the pub to see the trophy giving and hear the tales of what happened, head across to Angel in The Fields, which is just north of Bond Street Station. Good luck to all. Plus there's still time to enter the Tube Challenge quiz and win a copy of Tunnel Vision.

; Posted by annie mole Friday, May 19, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

London Underground Fashion Victims

Fashion Victims on the Tube

Once again Friday's look at people who might be considered slaves to fashion or have a particular fashion "style" that particularly caught my eye. this week people in London have been clearly caught out by the changeable and mainly rubbish weather we're having at the moment. So amongst a number of T-Shirts you'll see people wearing boots. Amongst sunglasses there are people wearing hooded jackets. However, the first two are people with slogan on their "clothes" which I found particularly puzzling.

Who is Pedro?

Who indeed? Who is this Pedro that we are being asked to vote for?

Who is Pedro

Hopefully he's not one of the new Big Brother contestants and this guy had inside knowledge.

Puzzling Bag

Is this woman giving a secret (or perhaps not so secret) signal to us all?

Puzzling bag

I think it said Tomorrow at the top, so the whole bag read "Tomorrow I'll come home late". The mind boggles.

Speaking of Mind Boggling Bags

Could this bag be anymore designer?

Designer Bag

Designer name, tick. Gold chain, tick. Pointless charms hanging off it, tick. Studded bucklely bits, tick. Where's Paris Hilton when you need her?

Oversized Designer Sunglasses inside

Ah, here's Paris Hilton, with her sunglasses on. It wasn't a remotely sunny day when I took this.

Designer Shades Inside

Take your sunglasses off, it must be quite difficult trying to read that magazine. You're inside a Tube carriage, on the Piccadilly Line, going through tunnels from here on in. There's no chance of sun's glare down here love!

Patchy Beanie

Sunglasses and now a woolly beany hat. No one knows what to wear.

Patchy Beanie

This guy was quite weird. Not only, had he sewn this strange large patch onto his beany/beanie, but he was also wearing a tie with a pullover. Now even though you can't see the tie from the picture, you can see he's not wearing a shirt. Most peculiar.

Skinny Legs

Oooh, if my legs were that skinny I don't think I would wear Ugg style boots that made me look as though I was wearing wellingtons

Skinny Legs

Not a good look.

Socks or no Socks

Again people are in a quandary with what to wear

Socks or No Socks

I actually quite like the lightweight red and white trainer thingies on the left, and they are certainly trainers you can wear sans socks.

But what is the woman wearing on the right? Hideous colour wedges, and to top them off, a pair of golfing style socks.

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, May 19, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Thursday, May 18, 2006

District Line Delays

Time for a Customer Charter Refund Application

I made a point of trying not to blog (too much) about how late I am because of a Tube journey. The Northern Line's constant rubbish doesn't count as you just take it for granted. But for some bizarre reason I expect better of the District Line. Since I moved house I must say the service have been delayed more often than it is on time. This morning was ridiculous and I'm making a
Customer Charter Refund Application as I was delayed for over the 15 minutes required for this.

Customer Charter London Transport Refund Form

Sitting my station we were told each minute that the 9.13am would be delayed by 9 minutes. When it got to 9.25am this was quite galling. By 9.30 we were still hearing about the 9 minute delay, but no other announcement from a real person as to why the trains were delayed. The train finally rolled in at 9.34am. No apologies, no explanations, nothing.

It wasn't until I got off the train at Hammersmith that we were told that signal failures in Acton had led to our delays and we should also expect them on the Piccadilly Line, which I was changing at Hammersmith to get. Great.

How delays at Acton affect the branch of the District Line at Richmond is beyond me but I'm sure someone will be only to happy to tell me why that's the case.

Anyway, back to my Customer Charter Refund quest. There's nothing obvious on the front page of the Tube's website to show that you can get a refund if you are delayed by over 15 minutes. So I went to the search the Tube's site for Customer Charter. Of the two pages of results - looking at the titles nothing remotely helpful. So I had to go to Yahoo's search engine which took me straight to the correct page for the refund application.

The problem I have with completing it online is that my annual travelcard is so worn that I can't actually read the ticket number, (D'OH, D'OH, D'OH,D'OH) so I'm going to see if the office who issued the ticket will be able to give me the number, or whether I need a new card (my card doesn't run out until the end of September)

I'll keep you posted. But in the meantime has anyone else applied for a refund under the Customer Charter recently and do you know how long it takes to get it? One of my old colleagues regularly made applications - almost on a weekly basis as her line was so rubbish and she always seemed to get her fare back. So fortunately there doesn't seem to be a limit on the amount of times you can claim a refund.

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, May 18, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Are you aware of others on the Tube?

Or what to do when there's nothing to read...

Just in case you hadn't had enough of escalators, The Week magazine seem to have discovered and advertising budget recently. There's a fun TV campaign about people nicking copies of The Week right now - love it when a squirrel looks like the last one to grab it! But they've also been running a Tube campaign too:

The Week Tube Ad

Probably taking advantage of an escalator at Canary Wharf, or somewhere else on the JLE, the ad features people engrossed in their copies of The Week. I think the implication is that the man without the magazine is less aware of what's going on around him, even though he hasn't got his head buried in a magazine like the others.

I often think that when you're on the London Underground you tend to get lost in your own world and even though you're in a public place, you're often not aware of others around you.

Well, that's the only reason I can sometimes come up with for people not giving thier seats up to others who clearly need them. I have a real bug bear for people who don't even attempt to offer their seats to the elderly or pregnant. I've sometimes been so busy reading something that I've not noticed a person who needs a seat. In those cases I'd hurriedly offer my seat up when I notice, giving a hard Paddington stare to the other people who never bother.

If I don't have something to read I'll stare at ads, but in the absence of that I find it pretty impossible not to people-watch on the Tube. Having this blog has probably heightened my awareness of others around me, but I've always tended to people-watch. Are you the same? Are you aware of others around you on the Tube, or do you put up a mental force field, block out everything and let your mind drift away?

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, May 18, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

When Escalators Stop

Walking up stationary escalators

© 2005 NK Guy; used with permission

Yesterday when coming home, I noticed there was something weird about the people coming up the escalators at Leicester Square (they weren't dressed as Santas - that's the best escalator picture I could find for this chilly time of year in London - I was freezing at work yesterday!).

No-one on the up escalator was actually moving. It was as though someone had pressed a pause button on a video. After a few seconds of surprise and looking around at each other, they realised the escalator had just stopped and as there was no sign of it starting again, they had to walk up.

There was no explanation as to why it had stopped and some people may have welcomed the exercise. But I wonder how many of them about to walk onto the suddenly halted escalator had "Escalator Wobble"?

From a post some time ago I reported that scientists at Imperial College with too much time on their hands had done a study on this "They have got to the bottom of "broken escalator wobble". You know the sensation you get when you step onto an escalator that isn't working although you think it is and you lose your balance or get a bit dizzy. Apparently it's the conflict between what the brain knows is going to happen (no movement) and what it thinks is going to happen, based on previous experience (movement). We all speed up when approaching an escalator, so when it isn't moving we stumble. The Professors at Imperial didn't test this on escalators though (although I'm sure they had plently of broken ones to choose from), but on sleds in a laboratory."

Also have you noticed how the Tube sometimes stop escalators outside of the rush hour in an effort to save the environment?

I haven't got a picture but you might have seen the large posters at the bottom of these escalators with a picture of the Earth and some sort of copy about how turning off escalators which aren't being used saves X amount of power per second/minute or whatever, and that London Underground aren't being tight bastards but are actually saving the planet. (Very much like the signs you get in hotels about not using towels unneccessarily which also saves the planet). Saving the world is clearly more important than potential escalator wobble.

Perhaps the London Underground also ought to add a note about how many calories they are helping us to burn by getting us to walk up escalators, and are therefore helping the battle against obesity too.

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, May 17, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Tube Travellers will be scanned for bombs

Bomb Detectors trialled on Canary Wharf

Watch yourself if you are travelling through Canary Wharf as from today you could find yourself being scanned for explosives or other concealed weapons.

Tube Travellers Scanned for Bombs - Evening Standard Headline

It's the first time that explosive detection has been trialled on the Tube in response to the July 7th attacks where 52 people were killed. The Evening Standard report "During the trial a team of security staff backed by British Transport Police will stop people at random and ask them to submit to examination voluntarily. If they agree, personal body scanners similar to those used at airports will check them for weapons. Another device will be able to detect even the slightest traces of explosives on fingertips. If the system proves successful it could be rolled out across the network or employed at stations considered high risk"

We had quite a debate when these were first introduced on the Heathrow Express at Paddington in October. I think that a lot of people wonder whether this is seriously feasible for a system that transports 3 million people every day. The Evening Standard allude to this "If the checks were comprehensive, however, the queues would cause chaos... Queues at Heathrow and other aiports - which deal with far fewer people than the Tube - have increased dramatically since additional security measures were introduced after the 7 July attacks". But if it's not comprehensive, why do it? It's a tricky situation, damned if you do and damned if you don't.

Patrick Mercer, Tory spokesman for homeland security wonders why we haven't had this type of checking earlier. "Three years ago we knew the Tube was a target and now, almost a year after the July 7, the Government is starting a series of trials. I am amazed it has taken so long".

However, Brian Cooke, chairman of the London passenger group Tavel Watch said that those being scanned would have to be chosen on such a selective basis, that the chances of catching a terrorist would be slim.

I would like to know what basis people are being selected on. Is it similar to the current stop and search procedure? If you refuse, does that automatically put you under suspicion if you match one of the Transport Police's criteria for being stopped in the first place?

What do you think? Is it feasible to have this type of scanning on the Tube? Do you have any alternative suggestions?

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, May 16, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Eurostar longest train wrap

Da Vinci Wrapping at WaterlooDa Vinci Code Express Wrapping at Waterloo

Speaking of Eurostar's Da Vinci Code tube ads yesterday, if you're travelling through Waterloo station this morning, look out for the Eurostar which is setting off at around 9.30am and taking all the stars of the film, Dan Brown and director Ron "Ritchie Cunningham" Howard to Cannes for the premiere.

A train (named The Da Vinci Code Express) will be covered with 8ft images of the Mona Lisa on each carriage making it the "longest train wrap" in history. According to The Times "The makeover is said to have cost about £500,000 and is part of the train company's attempt to increase tourism to locations featured in the plot, which largely takes place in Paris and London."

Apparently the train's journey to Cannes will also be another record, with the longest non-stop journey that the Eurostar has made. It would be nice if Tom Hanks sampled some of the other delights of travelling from Waterloo. He could stock up with some pasties from the Cornish Pasty shops at Waterloo, and break a "pasty eating on the Eurostar" record too.

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, May 16, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

BBC Mistaken Identity

Could you be an industry expert?

I'm often considered to be an "expert" on the Tube. I've done a number of interviews as a result of this and last week I was interviewed by the BBC for a radio feature that's due out later this summer. I can assure you that when you hear it, it was actually me. This is a very convoluted introduction to the following story, that's had me giggling for the last ten minutes.

Last week, BBC News 24 mistook a taxi driver (alledgedly) for a music download industry expert Guy Kewney who was supposed to be talking about Apple's recent victory at the High Court. During the live interview you can see the "rabbit in headlights" look on the guy's face when he realises they have the wrong "Guy" (he was also called Guy, but
Guy Goma). However, when we thought he was a taxi driver, who do have an opinion about everything, he carried on regardless:

The mistaken identity is made even more farcial when we learn that Guy Kewney is a slim fair haired white guy whereas the other "Guy" is a stocky black guy with a French accent.

Guy Kewney, was waiting in the BBC's reception when he saw the other guy being introduced under his name. "You don't get to see my 'white, bearded, professorial' face, but you can watch the classic moment, where Goma realises that he is on air, and being mistaken for someone else. It's beyond classic: it's priceless. Watch his incredible recovery."

Fortunately, thanks to YouTube and that particular skill the internet has in digging up things which people would rather remain hidden, this video which the BBC would have preferred to have been buried in the graveyard of BBC Blunders forever is now being enjoyed by loads of people!

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, May 16, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Monday, May 15, 2006

Da Vinci Code on the Tube

De-coding Da Vinci London Underground Ads

I must say that I'm already getting pretty bored with the
Da Vinci Code film and it's not even out yet. I'm waiting to see commuters reading the inevitable film-tie-in copies of the book with Tom Hanks and his strange lack of sideburns, but at the moment I haven't seen any film covers. Also surprisingly I haven't seen that many people with the book itself, but I have been twisting my head in knots trying to work out what this London Underground ad says.

Da Vinci Code Tube Ad

I could read the words underneath the heading quite easily, but I'm sad to say it was only when I was uploading the picture and reversed it in PhotoShop that I finally read the web address. I'm now kicking myself that I couldn't work it out on the Tube.

However, there's no way I'm even going to attempt to break the "code" in the ad below:

Da Vinci Code Tube Ad

Like millions of other people I bought the book, but I've only read 60 odd pages as I thought it was pretty shite and life's too short to waste your time with books that are best-sellers if they're not your personal cup of tea. As yet, I've not met one person who's managed to convince me that the book's worth giving another try!

So, for now I'll have to face more teaser Tube ads and the current round of "breaking the code" documentaries & Dan Brown de-bunking discussions and see Tom Hanks racing around looking anguished about his lack of side-burns. Very much looking forward to the film finally being released and hopefully then all the fuss will die down.

; Posted by annie mole Monday, May 15, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tresspasser on the Tube Track

Keep off the track posterUnlike Johnny Cash, Don't Walk the Line

If you have to use the Central Line this morning you might find it a bit delayed as there was a tresspasser on the track on the West Ruislip branch

What possesses people to walk on tracks of any railway or Tube line is beyond me and I would imagine they must be a bit, err, disturbed. I can't even see teenagers or children thinking it's a smart idea to do this. There is a very disturbed and wild looking man at Kew Gardens station who I saw running up and down the lines once. Most people were shouting at him, trying to get him off the line, but this just appeared to make him more determined to run up and down. Eventually he was persuaded off, but whenever, I see him now staring at the lines or muttering to himself as he paces up and down the platform, I just hope he's not going to do it again. I for one, would not want to see a one under, and I'm sure it wouldn't do the poor driver much help either.

Apparently the peak hour for London Underground suicides is 11am, I have no idea why or how I know that. But perhaps someone has a theory on why that might be.

; Posted by annie mole Monday, May 15, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Friday, May 12, 2006

Tube Challenge Quiz

Win a copy of Tube Challenge novel Tunnel Vision

This Friday's quiz celebrates the Tube Challenge. To the uninitiated, Tube Challenges do not refer to the challenge you might have of finding a seat on the London Underground, or finding a Northern Line train that isn't delayed, or finding chocolate machine that works. It's about people who travel around all Tube stations on the network or in a particular zone in the fastest possible time. Next Friday 19th May, sees the
third annual Zone 1 Tube Challenge, so the quiz has an appropriate theme. Here's the questions

1. Identify the people in this picture from last year's zone 1 challenge:

You are not allowed to answer this question if you are one of the people in it (But I will automatically give a point to the people in it, if they enter, just so they don't feel disadvantaged).

2. Who won last year's Zone 1 challenge and what was the winning time?

3. People travel from far and wide to take part in the Tube Challenges. What is the nationality of last year's zone 1 winner/s?

4. Tube Challenges where people attempt all stations on the London Underground in the fastest time, have been officially recognised by Guinness as a World Record for some time now. In which year did Guinness first publish a Tube Challenge World Record?

5. Neil & Geoff hold the current Guinness record with a time of 18 hours, 35 minutes, 43 seconds. What's wrong with the image below? Bonus points will be given for the original answers as well the accurate one!

What's wrong with this image

6. How many people took part in last year's Charity "Tube Relief" Challenge in aid of the victims from the London Bombings?

7. Name one of the people who took part in Tube Relief. You must name a person that someone else has NOT already mentioned. (This slightly limits the number of people who will score a point here, but quite a few people took part!).

Usual rules for the quiz. To enter, leave your answers in the comments below, along with either your email address and/or website/blog so that I can get in touch with you. Please make one entry only and leave all your answers in one comment. You have until Sunday 21st May 23.59 GMT to enter. The people scoring the most points, will go into Neil's paperclip selection and the winner will get a copy of Keith Lowe's Tunnel Vision kindly donated by Graham O'Mara.

Have fun and good luck to all of next week's challengers.

; Posted by annie mole Friday, May 12, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE

London Underground Fashion Victims

Fashion Victims on the Tube

Once again it's this week's look at commuters who are slaves to fashion or have a particular fashion "style" that particularly caught my eye or shows people taking that style and "making it their own". Still sorry that I've not been able to keep
Anthony happy and spot more people with flesh on display as the warmer weather approaches. The following picture was the best I could do this week

Muffin Top

I first heard this phrase from Kris last week and she was referring to the look you get when tight low slung trousers and tops don't quite meet and you get an "unsightly muffin top" in the middle. Check out the New York Daily News for more on the phrase - "that unsightly roll of flesh that spills over the waist of a pair of too-tight pants, like a muffin bursting out of the pan".

Muffin Top

This particular example also has the pre-requisite ripped jeans to add to the trend.

Cherry Vans & Miffy Bag

I've never seen a woman wearing a pair of chequered "Vans" before, but there's always a first time.

Cherry Vans & Miffy Bag

These ones have cherries dotted amongst the trademark chess-board design. However, this coupled with the "cute" red bag with lots of "Miffy" style rabbits on it, at her feet was all a bit much for my eyes.

Two Faced Watch

This guy was on his way to Heathrow Airport yesterday on the Piccadilly Line as he had some giant sized luggage. So perhaps he had deliberately worn his two faced designer "cuff" watch to keep track of times in two countries.

Two Faced Cuff Watch

I really don't like leather cuffs in general as it does look as though you are waiting for a kestral or perhaps in the Tube's case, a pigeon, to come swooping down to land on your wrist.

Oversized Posh Sunglassses

Finally, a look that Posh Beckham has made famous. The oversized designer sunglasses

Oversized Sunglasses

These sunglasses really scream "Look at me, look at me" at the same time as trying to give the wearer an air of mystery that they can hide behind. You can't quite see it in this picture, but this woman had a leaf on the top of her head, which rather spoiled the designer look!

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, May 12, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE