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Annie Mole's, daily web log (blog) & “guide” to the London Underground
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Monday, March 31, 2008

Topical Tube Photos of the Week

One way or another the London Underground has been in the national news a lot lately. Here's a few Flickr pictures from me and others that represent some of the topics.

Heathrow Terminal 5 Opening

You can't have failed to notice that
the press think it's one big FAIL.

My favourite Tube shot related to this is from James Cridland who visited & (I think) flew from there yesterday.

Underground Closed by James Cridland

He notes that the font used is also not the official London Underground font.

Tube Film Criticised

The BBC & Channel 4 both report on Mackenzie Crook's new Tube film Three and Out and it has been criticised by ASLEF's union leader for making a comedy out of suicide & portraying Tube staff as "callous self seeking half wits". This was before the Union leader had even seen a shot of the film.

I was lucky enough to be invited to a press preview screening of the Three and Out last week and the film is far from what it's being made out to be. Here's a picture from the press pack.

Mark Benton in Three and Out from Preview Press Pack

London Underground do not let any professional film crew on the London Underground without prior approval and I imagine they also had a PR person with them on the entire shoot. I was on Arena a couple of years ago for about five minutes - the shoot took several hours and we were accompanied by a LU PR person for the whole shooting time. Personally, I think the producers of Three and Out handled the suicide issues well.

Taking Photos on the Tube makes you a Terrorist

The Times report on how street photographers face difficulties with public concern rising over terrorism and paedophilia (nice). "In the past year, the photography blogs have buzzed with tales of harassment, even violence.... There's the amateur photographer punched prostrate in the London Tube after refusing to give up his film to a stranger....

"Now, a new poster campaign by the Metropolitan Police is inviting Londoners to call a hotline if they don't like the look of a photographer. 'Thousands of people take photos every day,' runs the text. 'What if one of them seems odd?' The poster states that terrorists use cameras for surveillance. Life with a camera might be about to turn tougher."

Taking an odd Tube photo of the odd Tube photo ad

Here's a lucky shot by me taking a picture of a guy on the Tube with the said Police campaign in view.

If you've seen or taken a topical Tube picture (or even one that spoofs it) please send to me and comments, as normal, welcome below.

; Posted by annie mole Monday, March 31, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Madonna doesn't use the Tube & criticises London Transport

Shock horror Madonna isn't a London Underground commuter. The press are all over Madonna's recent interview in
Q magazine where she "hits out at London's transport network".

According to the Press Association: "The star criticised the congestion charge, the Tube and complained that traffic was worse than ever.

Madonna, 49, often spotted cycling around the capital but also using chauffeur-driven limousines, told Q magazine: "I would make it so that young musicians, aspiring musicians wouldn't have to pay the congestion charge or pay taxes."

"Will Ken Livingstone get my vote? No. The traffic in London is worse than ever now. All Red Ken wants is roadworks going on everywhere." She added: "Don't use The Tube; can't use the roads? No. I'll just have to walk I guess."

Jesus wept, the reason she doesn't use the Tube is that she would get mobbed if she did. She's an A list mega star. Just because she doesn't use it is hardly a criticism of it.

Madonna not on the Tube

It's funny because if Madonna loved the London Underground, why couldn't she even make herself appear with the "kids" in a Tube carriage for the video Hung up?

Londonist said of the video: "And then we see a phenomenon that will be all too familiar to every Londoner: the sassy dance-off on the Tube. We've lost count of the times that rival gangs of urban youth on the Tube train attempt to top each other with their funky moves, only to be put in their place by an even funkier zaftig woman in sequins. Note that the LED display announcing the next stop has been turned off, and all the ads have been removed. The upholstery and layout clearly identifies this as a Jubbly line train of the 1996 type (notice the "perch seats"), but how did they get the yellow handrails replaced with chrome ones?"

And Tube expert SK in a quiz on this blog confirmed this was true "I've just compared this picture from the video, with pictures of other tube stock, and it is absolutely 100% definitely a Jubilee Line 96TS."

; Posted by annie mole Sunday, March 30, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Friday, March 28, 2008

London Underground Strike - Dates announced today

Today we find out when the next London Underground Strike will be. Yesterday
RMT union members voted by a margin of five to one for strike action in defence of safety on the Tube.

Tube Strike in the londonpaper

Strike dates will be announced today at a press conference to be held at RMT head office from 11.30am.

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: "This vote reveals the strength of feeling among our members that the safety and security of the network, for staff and passengers alike, will not be compromised under any conditions."

Yesterday's ballot results open the way for joint action with fellow Tube union TSSA, whose own members voted for strike action earlier this month.

The RMT press release says: "The unions are opposing management attacks on safety standards and the casualisation of safety-critical work."

UPDATE - Thanks to Fimb who commented the dates have been announced. From 6.30pm on Sunday, April 6th 2008 until 6.30pm on Wednesday, April 9th 2008. There's still, I suppose, some hope that the unions & London Underground will come to an agreement before the actual dates come around.

Naturally London Underground has responded calling the strike action "unnecessary". Howard Collins, Deputy COO said: "These issues have nothing whatsoever to do with safety, and not a single job is at risk.

"All of the issues raised by the RMT are already being addressed through the normal negotiating process. Significant progress has already been made and most of the issues have been agreed. The RMT's announcement does not mention the progress that has already been made. There is simply no reason for a strike, or even the threat of one, as all of the issues being raised can be resolved.

"A strike by the RMT would lose staff pay and inconvenience the travelling public to no purpose whatsoever. It is entirely unnecessary and we should get on with sorting out these issues through the normal negotiating process."

UPDATE - The Tube Strike has now been called off.

; Posted by annie mole Friday, March 28, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Three and Out - Preview Screening - The Verdict

OK, so last night I was lucky enough to be invited to the preview screening of Mackenzie Crook's new film about a London Underground driver,
Three and Out. It had ruffled the feathers of ASLEF general secretary Keith Norman without him even seeing it.

It portrays a Tube driver who learns about the "Three and Out rule". The rule says that if a Tube Driver experiences three people who are hit & killed by their train (a "one under") within a month they get laid off work and receive 10 times their annual salary as a pay off.

Three and Out Preview Screening Press Pack

Here's the trailer that gives you more of an idea of the film:

So armed with popcorn and having had a free beer, me, LJ Rich, Madame Miaow & Brian Pigeon's PR Agent, Lisa went to watch the film.

Plus points - there are a couple of massive twists that I won't reveal here that make the film quite interesting. London Underground obviously approved all filming and the script, so Keith Norman's worries about the industry being disrespected for their work and being made to look like "callous, self seeking halfwits" seemed not to be a concern to the London Underground.

It doesn't belittle suicide and people who are suicidal or make a joke out of either. The Samaritans were consulted in the making of the film.

My worry is that it was trying to hard to tick a lot of these controversial subjects and ended up being not a comedy, not a film about the complex issues behind suicide and not a film about how far someone might potentially go for their own self gain.

It was about half an hour too long. There was a really embarrassing sex scene between Mackenzie Crook and the new Bond girl Gemma Arterton (I'm not a prude but it made me squirm). Mackenzie Crook, to me, seemed to be going through the motions & not injecting the pathos of The Office's Gareth to the role.

28 - Mackenzie in train holding brakes

However, Colm Meaney, the suicidal guy that Crook's character eventually found to jump beneath his train to get the big pay off was very good. Anthony Sher camped it up as a French cannibal who Crook's character mistakenly thought might be a potential suicide victim. Kerry Katona was ... er ... Kerry Katona. Mark Benton, was also a little wasted as Vic, Crook's friend and original reporter of the "Three and Out" rule.

People laughed during the film, but not big belly laughs. There was a bit of romance but it wasn't quite believable for Arterton's character to suddenly fall for Crook because he was "different".

The Tube stuff was fine. Nice scene setting with mice running over the lines. Lots of it clearly shot on real Tube trains. It made London Underground staff look fairly normal and far from the "callous self seeking halfwits" which Norman mentioned above.

So no overall verdict from me, try to see it for yourself when it comes out on the 25th April and share your thoughts after you've seen the entire film - it's not as black and white as Mr Norman from ASLEF states. Thanks to the producers for the invite.

UPDATE - well A LOT has happened to the film since this screening - see the premiere pictures of Three and Out & ASLEF's leafletting of the premiere.

; Posted by annie mole Friday, March 28, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Boris on the Tube (literally)

Well done to eagle eyed Dan Brown (not the Da Vinci Code one) for spotting Mayoral candidate,Boris Johnson, quietly sitting on the London Underground that clearly didn't look like part of the Mayoral campaigning

Boris Tube Spot taken by Dan Brown

Dan said: "Sadly I couldn't see what he was reading".

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, March 27, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Breakfast on Pluto Tube Quiz

I've just finished watching the DVD of
Breakast on Pluto which stars one of my favourite actors - the beautiful Cillian Murphy, one of my favourite directors - Neil Jordan (The Crying Game is one of my all time favourite films) and based on the novel by Patrick McCabe one of my favourite Irish authors. What's this got to do with the London Underground? Plenty. How many times can I get favourite into one sentence? Plenty.

The film is based in the 1970's and tells the story of Patrick "Kitten" Braden, growing up in Ireland and how he becomes a transexual, moves to London, gets involved with the IRA, is part of the 1970's Soho pub bombings, is the son of a Catholic priest and is in constant search for his real mother (and none of that's spoiling the plot). While he's in London there are lots of scenes on the London Underground, but it's a Tube of the Seventies, full of flares, platform heels, big taches & mad long hairstyles.

Where's Cillian now?

So I thought it might be fun to do a quiz based on the film.

There's are even a few small prizes. There's a surprise prize for each first person to get questions 4 or 6 correct. Plus a little prize for the person who is first to get the most correct.

1. Can you name the Tube Station that Cillian's character, Brendan, is at in the picture above?

2. Brendan is always looking for his real mother. He spots who he thinks is her on the Tube and chases after her but the doors close before he can reach her.

Which station is she getting on at?

Where's Cillian's 'Mum' getting on

3. This shot of Brendan watching his mother disappear is at what point in the YouTube clip of the film below?

Cillian Murphy missing a Tube train

4. Here's a selection of books from my favourite Irish authors. Name one (book or author) that is not mentioned somewhere in this blog?

Some of my Irish books

5. Actually, I made a mistake - one of the writers from the picture above was born in Ireland but did not spend most of their life there. Which one was it?

6. Where can you find my favourite Breakfast on Pluto picture? (NB: I'm actually looking for a precise link here)

You have a week to make your guesses and the competition closes at 11.59pm UK time on the evening of the 2nd April 2008. Please remember to leave an email address or at least a blog address if you wish to be in with a chance of winning, as I will need to contact the lucky people to get their prizes to them. Have fun!

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, March 27, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Heathrow Terminal 5 opens today - new Piccadilly Line Station

A lot of you will be interested in this. As a
local resident who lives well within earshot of Heathrow Airport, I'm not.

If you want to see the pictures of the new station I wrote a post on this a few weeks ago when the Queen opened Terminal 5. Enjoy.

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, March 27, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

No interchange at Bank and Monument stations

I'm so pleased that I don't have to use Bank station anymore - the whole area around there & Monument was mystifying. You always felt that you were walking forever underground, in the back of your mind knowing that the walk between lines around there might be faster completed above ground.

No Bank Monument Interchange

However I can't pretend to understand what's going on there at the moment and will let Chris tell the story:

"London Underground are shutting the interchanges at the Bank/Monument complex from the 31st of March for over a year. No more interchanges between Bank and Monument at all, and within Bank, interchanges between DLR / Central / Northern / Waterloo & City are severely limited, by the looks of things:


This is especially bad for people who use the DLR (like me) - the DLR/Central Line escalators have only just fully reopened after being in restricted service (only an up escalator rather than both directions and so lots of overcrowding) since last summer for maintenance work, so all that was for nothing. And from June 2008 till April 2009 Tower Gateway is shut for expansion works, so Bank will be the only station on the DLR in central London so it'll be even more crowded - and you won't be able to change onto any other line apart from the Northern Line once you get there.

I'm mystified as to why they've timed this like this - it's going to be really inconvenient for anyone trying to come into central London on the DLR without diverting via Canary Wharf & the Jubilee, and I'm especially annoyed we've only been given 11 days notice for what's over a year of disruption.

Anyway, I know maintenance needs to be done but this looks really badly managed from my point of view.

If anyone has any views as to why they've done it that way please make yourself known in the comments.

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, March 26, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Taking pictures of yourself on the London Underground

Bare flesh alert, Bare flesh alert. Just to be clear I did not take the pictures below
astromatt76 did, but I do like them as they illustrate how some people like using the backdrop of the Tube when taking pictures of themselves:

girls on the tube

You can see from the pictures that these girls were making quite a thing of fluffing up their hair, adjusting their make-up etc before taking a shot of themselves. I would imagine that the resulting pictures they took ended up on Facebook.

girls on the tube

"Us on the Tube getting ready for a gr8 nite out LOL!" as a possible caption.

Thanks to astromatt76 for being so observant although from the reflection in the window I bet the rest of the carriage were watching in amusement too.

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, March 26, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Ninjas get free Train Rides in Japan Plus Straphanging while you Sleep

Sorry to begin with the "only in Japan" introduction, but seriously where else but in Japan would people who dressed up as Ninjas get free travel on the railway?

Free train journeys for Ninjas

Japan Probe report that passengers dressed in ninja costumes will be given free travel along the Iga Tetsudo line from April 1 to May 6 to mark the city's popular ninja festival.

"Each year, the festival is held centered on Iga's main districts, with ninja being the focus. Most events have a ninja theme, including the chance to try out ninja shuriken throwing stars." (I have absolutely no idea what that means but it sounds painful) "One of the more popular attractions at the festival is the practice of lending out ninja costumes and it is quite common to see families with everyone walking around the streets in ninja garb during the festival period."

My eye was drawn to an older related article at end of the Ninja post. "Drunk in the train (video)". I didn't play the drunk one but the video with the poor strap-hanger falling asleep on his feet is truly amazing:

How he manages to not fall flat on his face is totally beyond me. I love the fact that no one tries to wake him up. There's a classic part in the middle where a man keeps looking and looking at him in shock, but still decides not to wake him up. Then the poor guy falls off the strap and uses another seated sleeper's umbrella as prop to keep him upright & the pole to his left. Towards the end, he almost falls on top of the seated sleeping guy (whose umbrella he borrowed) who is nearest to him.

I have been known to sleep in all sorts of places and yes I have actually fallen asleep standing up once (fortunately only once) but I don't think even I could compete with this guy.

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, March 25, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy White Easter from the London Underground

Well it's snowing then.

Happy Snowy Easter Sunday

Looks much prettier without the train

White Easter from my Study

Happy Easter Sunday from my study window.

; Posted by annie mole Sunday, March 23, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Saturday, March 22, 2008

ASLEF not happy with Mackenzie Crook's Tube Driver Film

I first heard about
Mackenzie Crook's new "comedy" where he plays a London Underground Train Operator in January. "Three and Out" was due for release this spring. Well it's out next month and appears to have ruffled more than a few feathers with the transport union ASLEF (see the March issue of their journal below):

ASLEF not happy about Mackenzie Crook's new Tube Driver Film

Keith Norman, their general secretary says: "The plot is almost equally depressing. The driver, it seems, is told about the 'three and out' rule. According to the publicity blurb, 'If you have three fatal accidents within a month, you're out of a job ... but with a huge pay off.' So the 'hero' sets out to find another suicide victim. If he finds one he will be given 'enough cash to pay off his debts and retire to a Scottish idyll'. Have you ever heard such nonsense? Clearly whoever wrote it knows nothing about train drivers and even less about their conditions. I'm mystified why writers choose subjects about which they're entirely ignorant."

I've not seen the film, so can't really comment at the moment on whether Keith Norman's had a sense of humour failure. It may come across as a massive, massive spoof that clearly isn't supposed to be taken remotely seriously. It may make them look like, & to quote Keith Norman, "callous self seeking half wits".

Who knows? Let's just hope they don't go on strike about it.

Update - I've now found the trailer to Three and Out - bear in mind it's a trailer and not the whole film.

UPDATE I was invited to a preview screening of Three and Out and here's my thoughts.

; Posted by annie mole Saturday, March 22, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Why I really liked yesterday's TimeOut Pub Quiz

A number of people have met me in the flesh and when they do they are very often surprised. I've no real idea why that is. I have a lot of theories as to why that might be, the main two being that I'm not an anorak & that I'm a woman. Despite the majority of these blog posts saying "posted by Annie Mole" you would not believe how many people still think I'm a man.

last night's quiz proved, I'm not a Tube expert. Seriously. This also surprises people. I am not a trainspotter, I have very little interest in the in's and out's of rolling stock, I don't take pictures of trains for the sake of it, I don't have a favourite Tube station. There's nothing wrong with people who do any of those things - it's just not me.

Anyway, I digress. My friend Rob from Qype (who I've known virtually since 2003 & first met in the flesh in 2004) interviewed Lloyd Davis (my blogging busker friend - I've still not done the notes from my interview & photoshoot with him - d'oh - he is always so nice about this whenever I apologise to him) and this is why I sometimes like meeting people offline.

I like blogging about the Tube. I'm nosy. I'm a people watcher, always have been, always will be. It's the social situations on the London Underground that I am very interested in. If that amounts to being obsessed by the London Underground, then you can say I am obsessed.

A number of my closest friends are people that I "met" initially online. All the companies that I work for know that I blog. They've all respected my wish for anonymity for which I am very grateful. Lately people have been trying to find me on Facebook. I don't update my page there much and don't have Facebook friends. It would simply take up too much time to blog AND maintain an Annie Mole page plus the one for the real me.

I like that my blog has finally started to become interesting to the public transport "establishment" TubeLines, TfL (they read it every day - although have never contacted me officially - I'm not "on message" surprise, surprise), CBS Outdoor (the guys that sell the Tube's advertising), the MD of a Rail Replacement Bus Company, and of course the fab London Transport Museum. The Times (rather surprisingly) list me as one of their best 50 business blogs. The blog allows me to be like "Harry Tuttle" in the video above & operate outside the establishment, bureaucracy & the mainstream media and yet still hopefully have some influence there & get things done.

Internet guru, Clay Shirky said if you talk to someone long enough online, you usually want to meet them in the flesh. He was asked what social tools were good to foster this and said "plane tickets & beer". We didn't need the plane tickets last night but there was plenty of beer.

Meeting people offline is usually great fun for me, but only if they're not going to talk about rolling stock all night!

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, March 20, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Mouse on the London Underground Video

I've never been able to get a half way decent picture of Tube mice. The little things are way too fast to shoot (with a camera). So very impressed to see a video by
Douglas Benford of a London Underground mouse.

Which reminds me I meant to blog this mouse story sent to me by fellow qyper dmj1962 and fellow West Londoner David, he said:

"Have always been interested in the mouse population on the Underground: I believe that studies have shown that each deep-level tube line has a genetically distinct population, resulting from them being isolated from each other.

My own mouse incident happened at Westminster's fine new Jubilee-District interchange. I was on my way to a seminar for senior managers in my organisation, and had to change from the District to the Jubilee lines in the morning rush hour. It was very busy, but on one of the levels of the new station, there was a petrified mouse stuck in the middle of the floor, trying to reach the edge, but failing due to the large number of people walking past. I felt sorry for the poor thing, and bent down, saying, 'hello - are you lost then?'. A moment later a voice behind me said, 'Good Morning, David!', and to my horror found that one of my senior colleagues had been standing behind me, as I was speaking to the mouse... I muttered an embarrased, 'Good morning' back, and joined him for the rest of the journey.

I hope the mouse was OK..

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, March 20, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

TimeOut - So you think you know London Pub Quiz

We clearly didn't

I'm sorry to say that we really let the blogging side down at the TimeOut London Pub quiz last night. We did well in becoming the team to be best at being pants and we actually came first when it came to having the least points. So I'd like to thank our stellar team for taking part. Regular contributor Jon Justice, James Whatley from
Spinvox, Pete from the Londoneer, LondonFilmGeek, and representing fellow TimeOut best 50 listee Brian Pigeon - Lisa - his PR Agent.

Pub Quiz Table

Seriously though, when you are up against teams from The Museum of London (bloody intelligent bastards) & The Word Magazine, you know you're in for a hiding.

The Word Quiz Team

So I thought I'd share with you a photographic & videographic flavour of the night. Our table was waiting for us - oh yeah we agreed on The London Pigeon Collective, as our name.

Our Table

We first did the usual geeky thing of comparing mobile phones - although mine won for being so retro. James also did a video blog introduction.

Our "lucky" mascot had a go on a phone:

Our 'lucky' mascot on the phone

Although we got off to a good start. We didn't hold it. Sadly we couldn't even get top score on the "Victoria Line platform tiles round" for free beers - well actually we did, but lost out on the tiebreaker - "How many passenger journeys does the Victoria Line carry each year?" James Whatley took a video of that moment:

Anyway, I forget to say at the start that the quiz was to promote TimeOut Editor's Michael Hodges standing for London Mayor.

We were all given a stack of TimeOut's and Brian Pigeon's Agent Lisa, is seriously checking out the graphic novel inside, Don Pigeone.

Brian Pigeon's Agent will have words with Don Pigeone>

Our notes weren't helpful and towards the end we almost gave up. Wonder if you can guess what the questions were if you look at the second picture?

Our Rubbish Notes
We'd given up at this stage - wonder if you can guess what the questions were?

So we thought you'd like to see how you measure up and we took a photo of the picture round. Which means you can take part in the photo round of the quiz from the comfort of your computer screen.

Picture Round - Can you do better

Do you know the answers to the picture round? If so please leave in the comments below.

Many thanks to Tom Ellen at TimeOut for organising such a fab quiz (and for inviting us) and once again thanks to my fellow team members for making the evening a hysterically funny night.

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, March 19, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

European Hit Bus Driver Game to launch in the US

Now I know this isn't London Underground related (move along if you want the Tube stuff) , but a bus driving simulation game called "
Bus Driver" (which is apparently a big hit in Europe) will be crossing the shores to the US in May. I wonder if the threatened bendy bus will make it into the game? I suppose if no more are produced if Ken is re-elected or Boris elected, it would give the game that extra "must have" factor.

Bus Driver Game Screen Grab

From the game maker, Meridian 4's press release I learnt the following:

"The game, which is already a success with fans in Europe, will be hitting our shores in May. So everyone behind the yellow line, get to the back of the bus and make sure you have exact change because this is going to be a great ride!"

Their Marketing Director said: "When I first saw the name Bus Driver, I said....really? After playing the game and learning of SCS Software's heritage with games like Deer Hunter II & III and the successful 18 Wheels of Steel series, I knew that Bus Driver would be a hit with the right audience. Bus Driver will catch you off guard and have you obsessed within minutes."

The CEO of SCS Software Pavel Sebor added: "Having successfully launched the game across Europe, we are delighted to partner with Meridian4 to bring Bus Driver to Northern American fans of the game."

There are 12 buses to drive – detailed models inspired by real-world buses, including London's double-decker bus, Europe's low floor buses (I don't know if that includes the bendy bus) America's school bus and many more.

From London Assembly Member Tony Arbour's Campaign Newsletter

I like the multiple duties you have such as transporting tourists, driving a school bus, sight-seeing tours and even the transportation of prisoners. I wonder what other duties they should fit in if they really wanted to mirror the "skills" & duties of a London bus driver (My brother's a bus driver on London United so I should ask him).

But here's a few suggestions:
  1. Waiting for people to run up for the bus and then closing the doors at the last minute
  2. Refusing to move the bus until hoodies or trouble makers get off
  3. Hitting the Oyster card reader to try to make it work
  4. Looking really miserable for most of the day until clocking off time
  5. Speeding past a request stop when someone hasn't quite made it to stick out their hand in time (that's a variation on the first point)
Any more? Or if you've played the game what do you think of it?

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, March 18, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Donate your Oyster card to Charity

No, this isn't some oblique reference to the uber geeky story doing the rounds about "Oyster card hacking" (yes, I've seen it many times thanks), but a nice initiative that I saw at Liverpool Street station when I was on the way to
James's Tube Carriage Office.

Give your Oyster card to Charity

The idea is that if you've "finished" with your Oyster card you can drop it into this box and your deposit & the remaining amount will go to The Railway Children Charity. The charity supports street children living alone and at risk on the streets. It helps children all over the world, many of whom live in and around railway stations.

Liverpool Street is a good choice for this as it's used by a lot of tourists flying to Stansted Airport who may have bought an Oyster card for their stay and now have no further need for it.

Plus there may be some City types who've travelled down to London for business, are expensing their travel & don't think it's a big deal giving the balance & deposit to charity. I'd guess that most regular commuters wouldn't want to give their Oyster card away.

If anyone knows anything more about this service, I'd be interested in knowing how many cards are donated and how much has been raised for the charity.

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, March 18, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Bite Me - Discounted Railway Food

So I've just posted the
above story about The Railway Children Charity and thought "Ah yes, I must blog about the BiTE discount card". It's a card where you can get 20% off food & drink in some railway station outlets.

BiTE Card

In a weird coincidence it turns out that the company behind these cards (ssp.uk.com) is one of the largest supporters of the Railway Children Charity. Last year alone SSP, and their staff, suppliers and customers helped to raise £100,000.

Back to the card - you simply apply for it at this site. It takes a couple of weeks to arrive in the post and then you can use it at mainline railway shops like The Pasty Shop (a life saver to late night train travellers who've had one too many to drink), The Camden Food Co, Ixxy's Bagels going right down the fast food chain to Burger King.

I've used my card at The Pasty Shop loads of times and sometimes their Chicken & Mushroom pasty tastes like the best food in the world. Other times just the smell of one of a hot pasty will make me want to heave - so sorry if it's had that effect on you.

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, March 18, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Wish us luck in the TimeOut London Pub Quiz

And finally, I've put together a crack team of London bloggers & regular blog contributors to take part in a TimeOut London Pub Quiz, which I was very kindly invited to. Probably off the back of being one of their
50 Best London Websites (still blown away by that, so thanks muchly)

I'm allowed to blog about this one, so the team members are regular contributor Jon Justice, James Whatley from Spinvox, Pete from the Londoneer, LondonFilmGeek, and representing fellow TimeOut best 50 listee Brian Pigeon - Lisa his PR Agent (Hoorah for another chick on the team).

Mind the Gap Spillage Beer Mat

We're still trying to come to an agreement on the name for the team which we've got to give to Tom at TimeOut this morning. So will report back later.

for a full report of how we did - in the quiz.

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, March 18, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Monday, March 17, 2008

Why I hope to never take a replacement bus service again

I wake up this morning to hear that the engineering works that seem to have been taking place every weekend on the District Line for the last month have over-run. What a surprise. Ah (7.45am) I've just seen a District Line heading towards Richmond, so reckon that they've just started running again.

On Saturday after coming home from a wonderful afternoon at the
London Transport Museum, I stupidly decided to take the replacement bus services home.

Lots of red crossings out at Kew Gardens
allow an extra 50 minutes to complete your journey - surely some mistake

I got the Piccadilly Line to Hammersmith and a huge amount of people left the platform - this was because the Piccadilly Line also had engineering works and wasn't running between Hammersmith & Acton Town. A replacement bus service was in place to get us to our destinations. I'm skipping a lot here as after waiting around for about twenty minutes for a 391 I managed to get myself to Gunnersbury station through a combination of buses & walking - which took about 25 minutes.

Now I know that some smart alec is going to tell me that London Overground were running trains to Richmond and I should have picked up the train at Gunnersbury. But I forgot. With all the bus stuff going on & announcements about replacement buses I was in bus mode and it was a bus or nothing else to get home.

At Gunnersbury there was one Customer Service guy who appeared to be mute. By rote I jumped onto the replacement bus that was parked there thinking it was going to Kew Gardens. Normally replacement buses heading to Richmond stop at Gunnersbury. Normally replacement buses for the Piccadilly Line don't stop at Gunnersbury. There was NO signage at Gunnersbury bus stop to help.

Transport geeks are going to know what's about to happen now. The replacement bus I was on didn't go to Kew Gardens but sped off towards Acton Town. Quite a significant distance from where I needed to be.

Two of the five customer information assistants at Acton Town

The yellow jackets at Acton Town caught me fuming. I don't normally lose my temper but when I do it's not a pleasant sight. Let's just say they got the worst of me on public transport - I swore, I called them useless, I moaned about the lack of signage, I told them that no one knew what was going on, I said there were too many of them here and not enough at Gunnersbury, I complained with fellow confused passengers, I acted like their worst nightmare.

After a twenty minute wait, I got a replacement bus back to Gunnersbury (obviously I was now going to get the overground train back) and decided to look at the signage there. Nothing outside the station. When I got inside I saw the nicely printed sign below:

Clear signs at Gunnersbury?

At Kew Gardens I saw this:

At Kew Gardens Station

The ticket office was closed and there would not have been one member of staff to speak to had I wanted to. So never again. I will cut my losses the next weekend the trains aren't running & go and return via Waterloo.

; Posted by annie mole Monday, March 17, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Time Travelling with Metro-Land 1930's Housewife

This was my
Ashes to Ashes or Life on Mars moment.

Mrs Dilys Muybridge - 1930's Metro-land Housewife - LT Museum

On Friday I mentioned that I might pop along to see one of the 1930's period actors that they have at the London Transport Museum. It was part of the longlisted Art Fund Prize nominees "Love your London Museum Day". Thanks to Jane Findlay - the LT Museum's very foresighted community curator for telling me all about it.

Mrs Dilys Muybridge (no idea where the name comes from but I bet it's an anagram) was very polite and well spoken & welcomed us to the stand. It's the weirdest thing talking in depth to someone pretending to be from the 1930's when you know they know you're from the future! Except you're not cos you're all obviously in the same period of time.

We chatted about house prices and she said that her seven bedroom house in Harrow Garden Village (roughly where Rayners Lane Tube is now) was about £700 and obviously not cheap. But for the same price she would have only got something much smaller in central London. Her family would have been looking to spend about £1,000 for a small house or apartment in the centre of town. However, she loved living in Metro-Land, and her husband only took 20 minutes to get to Baker Street and she could spend her days with the children, playing tennis or making the occasional trip to the shops.

She hadn't heard of Derry & Toms (huge old department store just off High Street Ken) when I asked her. It was only just being built in 1932, so that was no surprise. But she was "a most enthusiastic shopper". She didn't have a TV, "bit too expensive", but knew people who did. I used the TV to try to describe the Internet to her, as she was keen to find out why I was soooo interested in her.

I said think of it as a TV but with people from all over the world in it, who you can talk to and they talk back to you. "Wouldn't that be frightfully noisy?" she said. "It's bad enough with me and the children". "But they do it quietly", I laughed, "They're just typing". She looked noticeably relieved.

I then said I wanted to take her photo for the blog. "The what?". Oh gawd, how did I explain a blog - it's hard enough trying to do that to people in the 21st century. "Well it's like a diary". She looked happy: "Oh a journal, yes I keep one of those". "But people from around the world can look at it and they can make comments on it as well". I explained.

"Really, so people from the United States of America might be able to see me?"
"And they can learn about the Museum and where I live?"
"Fascinating, I'll put my best smile on then".

Which she did. I wish my knowledge of 1930's London extended beyond Hercule Poirot (she was a fan of his - he's also been the basis of some quizzes on this blog), but she really knew her stuff and we had a brill time.

Speaking of the Museum, this is just a final reminder to vote for the photos from last month's Flickr MiniMeet at the Museum that you'd like to see on their website. Voting closes at 11.59pm UK time. Ta muchly.

; Posted by annie mole Sunday, March 16, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Which Tube Line has the Hottest Commuters?

Which Tube Line has the Hottest Commuters?You'd find it hard to miss the bright red box that's appeared on the right panel of my blog. It's promoting a survey that local review site Qype are running. They want to try to find out once & for all which London Underground Line has the best looking passengers. Also they're wondering if you've ever seen anyone you fancy on the Tube and whether you've done anything about it.

The survey seriously will only take you about three minutes to fill out (I did it this morning) and IF you give them your name & email address you could go into a draw to win an iPod Nano. But you don't have to do that part to still take part in the survey.

I definitely think that the Piccadilly Line has the hottest passengers, as you get a lot of trendy looking Soho, arty & theatre types going to Leicester Square & Piccadilly Circus. You further get the double whammy of people going to Holborn - so some quite nice suits in the legal profession, plus some geeky new media types coming from the West & going to Clerkenwell.

The ugliest Line in my opinion is the Waterloo & City Line. I do like some suits but the Waterloo & City ones are really pompous & work mainly in finance which seems to give the blokes a permanent sneer & the women that po faced, sucking a sour lemon look. My apologies if you use that line and don't fit into those wide generalisations.

So have fun completing the survey and Qype will publish the results at a later date.

; Posted by annie mole Saturday, March 15, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Friday, March 14, 2008

London Underground Fashion Victims

Fashion Victims on the Tube

It's Friday and time to look at the TFV's or Tube Fashion Victims. Commuters who are uber trend setting so much that they will follow a trend regardless of how it makes them look.

This week we have our first canine victim and to be honest - it's a bit like with
my friend last week in that he knew he was having his photo taken.

First he was a little camera shy

Canine Tube Fashion Victim 2

Then I was able to zoom in a little on his trendy camouflage harness.

Canine Tube Fashion Victim

Then I decided to identify myself to the dog's owner as he just wasn't playing ball or smiling for the camera. "Come on Elvis, this lady wants to take your photo", said his owner. Elvis - what a great name for a dog that permanently looks like it's doing the mother of all lip curls.

Elvis the Canine Tube Fashion Victim

I had to find out where Elvis's clothes came from. It was part of the bestselling Orion Harness range from Puppia:

Puppia harness

Anyway Elvis was a real sweetie and let me pet him & I'd like to thank his owner for letting me take the shot.

That's it for now. The previous victims can be found here and the complete picture gallery can be seen on the following Flickr set.

; Posted by annie mole Friday, March 14, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Olympic Training - Extra Cars on the DLR

Thanks to my work colleague for giving me the heads up on this. Mayor Ken and DLR chairman, Ian Brown launched the new Docklands Light Railway carriages at West India Quay yesterday morning.

Longer DLR Trains

The new carriages, have sleeker designs, larger windows and are in a bright red "reminiscent of the old London Underground pre-1960s livery". They'll form a substantial part of the DLR fleet throughout the London 2012 Games. Trains are being lengthened to three carriages to deal with growing passenger numbers from 2010.

However, as my colleague pointed out, the diagram Ken & co are carrying makes it look as though they are just moving from one car to two cars (ie 100% extra capacity). Surely it wouldn't have been difficult to have added an extra car to reflect the real three car situation?

If you'd like to see pictures of the trains actually running Ian has a post and some shots in his Flickr stream.

; Posted by annie mole Friday, March 14, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Mrs Metro-Land at the London Transport Museum

One of the good things about the new LT Museum were the people acting in the spirit of the time. This Saturday, the museum has an
event where the eccentric "Mrs Dilys Muybridge" will tell visitors what it was like to live in Metro-Land. Or rather the suburban life of the 1930's.

Mrs Metro-Land at the LT Museum

I might try to pop along as it's amazing how well these actors manage to keep in character. The two below initially didn't want me to photograph them together because they are from different historical times.

LT Museum Period Actors

Speaking of Metro-Land and the London Transport Museum, don't forget you can vote for the pictures from our recent Flickr Mini Meet that you'd like to see on the museum's site. Many thanks.

; Posted by annie mole Friday, March 14, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Heathrow Terminal 5 opened today - great

As someone who lives under the runway of Heathrow Airport, I'm not exactly dancing in the streets about Terminal 5's opening. I belong to the
Kew Society and in fact have been actively campaigning against some of expansion of the airport and I strongly support HACAN's aims. So you'll have to forgive me for NOT getting my knickers in twist about the great opening by the Queen today.

Heathrow Terminal 5 - Piccadilly Line by Terminal5Insider

This release about BAA's broken promises to local residents makes me feel sad and annoyed.

Anyway, I know that a lot of you probably are excited about the opening. Terminal 5's "insider" had been in touch with me some time ago (probably as a result of this post) and invited me & other bloggers I know to visit Terminal 5 in advance of its opening. I declined the invitation but instead asked a number of questions relating to the new London Underground station.

Here are the questions I asked on 11th February & answers I received on the 10th March (I've edited the answers slightly to allow for the insider's English - as English isn't his first language):

So - when will "guinea pigs" or the general public be able to test the new station?

Actually London Transport and BAA officers are already taking the Piccadilly line trains to Terminal 5, even if the station is not opened to public yet. NB - It opens to the public in about two weeks time.

What sort of signage is there in place or being planned around the Tube and where to make changes, where to travel to after you arrive etc, etc

All the signage in the Tube (on the Piccadilly Line) relative to the new T5 station is already in use and has been updated.

Will they be in different languages?

No, signage will be just in English

What about accessibility of the station entrances and exits? Assuming there's going to be space for people carrying large luggage and help for people who are disabled.

To enter and exit the station there are 4 lifts + 6 escalators

4 lifts has meant to allow access to T5 for disabled passengers and big luggage

What's the scheduling and roll out period for getting Terminal 5 added to the Tube car diagrams?

The tube has been already added the car diagrams

Also, the roof of the station has been made with the same material used for the Eden Project in Cornwall. It is a nice one.

Heathrow Terminal 5 - transport link's roof by Terminal5Insider

So there you go. The full set of pictures of Heathrow Terminal 5 London Underground Station are here. Enjoy!

; Posted by annie mole Friday, March 14, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Man wanted over train sex attack

Fortunately this didn't happen on the Tube, but a bit of a cautionary tale for us ladies who fall asleep late at night on public transport (I do this on the London Underground all the time!).

Man wanted over train sex attack

"A woman fell asleep on a train and awoke to find a man sexually assaulting her.

British Transport Police believe the attacker preyed on the 26-year-old as she dozed on a train from Victoria to East Croydon The serious sex attack happened at Victoria station on Saturday, March 1 between 12.15am and 12:35am.

The man was white, slightly overweight, aged 35 to 45 years with light brown cropped receding hair. He had glasses and wore a dark blue Adidas jogging top.

Police believe the man lives in the Battersea area and appeal to anyone who may be able to identify him to contact officers.

Anyone with information should contact the BTP on 0800 40 50 40 or the Witness Appeal Line on 0207 391 5275, quoting background log B4 of 11/3/08

Thanks to Londonist where I saw this originally.

And yes, before anyone mentions this, I can see the irony of posting this just after a post which sort of moans about how much CCTV we have in the UK. It's a double edged sword and I don't know what the answer is.

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, March 13, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Two mobile phones = terrorist, bite back

Not long ago, I blogged about the
current Police anti terrorism campaign where things like having two mobile phones or taking photographs on the Tube meant you could be seen as a potential terrorist. The public were told not to worry about wasting the police time, but just report suspicious behaviour anyway - it's no big deal to the police. If you suspect it, report it. End of story as far as they're concerned.

As you might imagine, there's been a bit of a backlash to this campaign. Many of you commented on the err... oddness of this. Many forums discussed it and now thanks to Boing Boing some great parodies or remixes of the ads have been found on Flickr.

Here's one of the originals:

photographers as terrorists campaign

And here's some mash-ups

facism by illegalphotos

londonmeowing by GlyphJock


; Posted by annie mole Thursday, March 13, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE