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Annie Mole's, daily web log (blog) & “guide” to the London Underground
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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Webby Awards only 2 days left to vote

Amazingly Transport for London's website is up for a Webby! "Transport for London's (TfL's) website has been nominated this year for two awards in the internet equivalent of the Oscars...... The body nominated TfL's website for excellence in its interactive design, creativity, usability and functionality.

"TfL's site is the only one representing London and the UK in its category. The other nominees are Peace Corps, EnergyStar@home, San Francisco International Airport and the city site 'Secrets of New York'."

In 2005 I was lucky enough with this blog to be a Webby Award Honoree. I've never appeared in their listings since, but hey, life's not all about Awards (Three times Bloggie Finalist & never won - I'm not bitter, not at all, not even slightly, wouldn't like to mention it).

Anyway as well as the ones which are nominated and judged by the industry experts, there is a People's Voice Voting site, where you can "Vote for your favorites from five nominees in Web and Mobile Sites, Interactive Advertising and Online Film & Video".

You need to register to vote but once there you can then vote for sites in as many categories as you like. Well done to TfL for getting there. Another site that you might be interested in voting for is MOO.com, I've had MOO mini cards for ages. Most of the bloggers I know have MOO cards. At last night's London Blogger's Meet up if you had a business card for blogging the majority were MOO cards. Moo.com are in the 'Marketplace' group in the 'Retail' category and under the 'Services' group in the 'Services' category.

I will declare an interest here in that Mecca who works for MOO has been banging on about this for days now and I just want to shut her up by blogging it, as my ears are beginning to hurt.

Webby 5s - and People's Voice Voting Party

I met her for a drink after she went to the Webby Awards Party and she was shamelessly schmoozing up to the Webby Awards team, in the pub.

Anyway voting closes on the 1st May, so get your votes in now. Many thanks.

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, April 30, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tube Mice Spotting, Mayoral Elections and London Bloggers

Just got back from an excellent night out at the
monthly London Blogger's meet up at the Coach & Horses organised by Andy Bargery. On the way there I spotted a really top ad for the mayoral elections at Chancery Lane:

London Mayoral Election Ads at Chancery Lane

It's particularly effective because Chancery Lane on the Central Line has loads of mice running around on the tracks and I spent the next five minutes waiting for the delayed train, trying to take a picture of the little blighters. A guy next to me noticed what I was doing and said "But aren't they rats though". I said in full anorak mode, "That's a popular misconception but rats are at least double the size of these mice", and added "Don't you think the ad's good though?" He looked up and said "Yeah I spose it is but I was too busy watching you watching the mice".

Eventually, I managed to get a shot of a mouse just above the tissue on the picture below:

Mouse at Chancery Lane

It looks very unimpressive and I showed the guy next to me who asked me why I didn't video them. "Too much memory", I said, meaning it used up too much memory. He said "Well I bow to your superior knowledge of memory and Tube mice".

I then managed to squeeze myself into the train that arrived and wedged against everyone else made it to the Coach & Horses.

Trying to get on Crowded Tube

Had a really fun night and chatted about US blogs to Tom Reynolds who'd come on the basis of my last minute Twitters, Chris Applegate who'd done the same. Representing Londonist were Tiki Chris, Matt Brown & Dave. Graham from London Connections also updated me on the Bank Monument fracas and the fact that London Underground had seen it fit to actually produce a leaflet about the mess.

Nice chats too about Three & Out, blogger's integrity & selling out or not with Peter Marshall, Francine, Jaz from Shiny Red & Lisa from a blog that will remain nameless to protect her from she knows what. Also met for the first time the very lovely Malcolm Eggs from the London Review of Breakfasts who was much younger and slimmer than I had imagined. He'll be Nom, Nom, Nom 'ing with us later next month.

Apologies if I met you and left you out of the "roll call" above, but it was also nice talking to you and it's always good for me to see how new bloggers are finding all this blogging lark.

Later today I expect to learn how I can make at least half a million pounds from my blog. Prada, Orange, Kelloggs, Walls, Churchill, Kodak, Unilever anyone? I can't wait to hear about that that fab new club, CakeLimeFellowsElectricGalloo, that's opening in Shoreditch. Join me now! (No I'm not drunk)

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, April 30, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Monday, April 28, 2008

Love on the Tube Survey Results

Thanks if you completed the
Tube Hottie survey to find out which London Underground Line has the hottest commuters on it (that's hot in terms of 'you're looking hot baby' rather than 'get your sweaty armpit out of my face' hot). The results are now in:

Love on the Tube Survey Results in Metro

Strangely enough the line we love to hate - the Northern 'Misery' Line, is the line we love to love on, with the sexiest passengers - "spiky haired indie kids" to "hot city types".

So far both Metro and thelondonpaper liked the results so much they reported on them last week. I also got a call from someone at Reuters so we might see the results in a few other places too. Many thanks too, to the gorgeous hottie Rob Hinchcliffe at Qype for twisting my arm and getting me to run such a err .... eye-catching ad on the site.

The survey also found some classic chat up lines to pull your hottie such as 'I bet you're getting off at Angel' and 'Do you use the Tube often'. Let us know if you'd like to see the full list.

; Posted by annie mole Monday, April 28, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Flickr Mini Meet Photos on London Transport Museum Site

Please accept my apologies, I have been meaning to post this for weeks. You may remember that along with
Sizemore, I helped to organise a Flickr Mini Meet at the refurbished London Transport Museum.

Flickr Mini Meet on London Transport Museum Website

Seventeen of us got together and ended up uploading over 680 photos to Flickr from our afternoon. The Museum were so impressed with the photos that they wanted put some up on their own website. So we used a public vote to help choose the best five. Thanks if you voted!

Those five are now up on the London Transport Museum's website (and indeed have been up for a few weeks now .... oooh .... sorry I did mean to post, work and loads of other stuff got in the way).

So congratulations to Fimb, James Cridland, Meg Pickard, Phill Price and Chutney Bannister for getting into the top five. As the museum are so lovely they've also linked to the whole Flickr stream from that day anyway.

Also, just in case everyone else is feeling left out, me and Sizemore heard last week that as a result of this, the Museum want to run a Flickr Photographic Scavenger Hunt with our help, which will involve a lot more people. We're having initial meetings in a couple of weeks time, so watch this space for what I'm sure will be another great day.

London Transport Museum Flickr Mini Meet - Cafe Chat 2 Steve and camera Filling in Museum on the Move Postcards 2 London Transport Museum Flickr Mini Meet - Cafe Chat

Video by Sizemore

Thanks to all photographers who took part in February as it was the quality of your work, feedback and your general enthusiasm which made all this come off.

; Posted by annie mole Monday, April 28, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Friday, April 25, 2008

Three and Out take on London Underground

Just when you thought the stories about the much talked about
"Tube Suicide" film Three and Out, couldn't get better, something else happens. Last week a commenter calling themselves "Keith & Barry" left a comment which purported to show in full, an internal memo from LU MD Tim O'Toole apologising to staff for upset the film may have caused them and I added an update to my initial post on the whole ASLEF protest thing here. At the time I was a little sceptical as the memo could have been a spoof, but I reckoned it wasn't. Looks like I was right - it wasn't.

Three and Out Producers take on London Underground

The makers of Three and Out are now running full page adverts where they show the process of how they got approval from senior staff within the London Underground - including - Occupational Health, Employee Communications & Counselling & Trauma Support. They paid London Underground £200,000 to film the parts that were filmed on the Tube. Not surprisingly they are now more than a bit miffed that Tim O'Toole is now "back peddling" because of ASLEF and RMT's protest and is saying to staff "the film does not reflect reality and is in poor taste in attempting to make a suicide event ‘funny.’ "

How many films do reflect reality I'd like to ask - but that's by the by. If I don't have the brain power to distinguish between reality and fiction I'd consider myself more than a bit challenged.

I love the headline to this ad, referring to London Underground's whole attitude to the film 1 was deliberate (LU giving them approval & taking their dosh), 2 was bad luck (the whole ASLEF slamming Three and Out without even seeing it part), 3 was his way out - (Tim O'Toole's back peddling to appease LU staff). It's genius and running the day before the film opens to the public is also genius. I imagine it will be in Metro this morning too.

Take a look at the whole ad, it's not only funny but shows the loops you have to go through to get anything approved by the London Underground. It's also interesting to see that one of the film's screenwriters had been a firefighter for 20 years and faced a lot of fatalities in his job, including death on trains.

One of my colleagues yesterday asked me if it was as crass as it appears, which shows that the union's manipulation of the public has been working. I told him it wasn't. I've said many times now, that I didn't think it was hysterically funny. I didn't think it should have been billed as a rom-com. I still stand by all of my initial comments when I saw the whole film.

As ever the London Underground has proved to be a subject that everyone has an opinion on. I can't wait to hear other people's thoughts when they go to see the film for themselves. Good luck with the nationwide screening Three and Out - you deserve it.

Update - I didn't see this until someone mentioned it in my comments, but according to the BBC - the film makers at Three and Out plan to sue London Underground. Although my blog isn't mentioned by name, like others say in the comments below, I'd be surprised if it was anyone else's. The BBC report:

"Mr O'Toole's memo, posted on a blog, said: 'Clearly the film does not reflect reality and is in poor taste in attempting to make a suicide event 'funny'.

'We cannot control the script or scenes shot elsewhere.

'In hindsight, we may have been better off refusing co-operation... LU has provided no endorsement for the film, and there is no doubt that it would have been made and released whether or not LU had co-operated.'

A WBE spokeswoman said it had taken the first stage of legal action by notifying Mr O'Toole and LU of its intention to sue." read the BBC report in full here. Incidentally I didn't "post" it on my blog, it was submitted to my comments!

; Posted by annie mole Friday, April 25, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Cats can Improve Station Popularity

We're not talking about fat cats here (not the
100 people earning over £100K at TfL), but real cats. Thanks to Jon Justice, I learnt that a cat named Tama was officially named Station Master at an unmanned station in the Wakayama Electric Railway (Japan, where else?).

Tama the Station Master Cat - I can haz Oystercard

Well, the feline Station Master has proved to be incredibly popular, drawing extra tourists to the station and generating a nice little earner for the Railway.

Here's how the cat got to be a station master & some of its duties (according to JapanProbe who translated the video clips)

In January of 2007, the president of the railway decided that Tama, a cat belonging to a shopkeeper at an unmanned station on the line, would be named stationmaster.

Stationmaster Tama begins every day with a stretch on the floor of his master's shop. He then puts on his stationmaster cap and greets customers as they leave and enter the station during the morning rush hour. His master sometimes helps him wave to train passengers.

Much of Tama's day is spent entertaining fans who have come to catch a glimpse of the famous stationmaster. A shop at the station sells a variety of Tama-branded souvenir goods, including buttons, snacks, and a special photo book.

When Tama puts his front legs together, the patterns on his fur form a heart shape. It is said that it is good luck for couples to visit Tama and be shown the heart mark.

Stationmaster Tama sometimes gives radio interviews and attends local events as a VIP.

Perhaps we ought to have some cats manning un-manned stations on the London Underground. I know the unions would need to get involved to make sure they had worked their way up the ranks and had the required skills. But I think they'd do alright. Cats are quite good at looking as though they don't give a shit. They do things in their own time, yawn & stretch a lot and probably wouldn't need to be paid much in the way of a salary.

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, April 24, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

London's Transport & Mayoral Campaign

Ken wants better TubeThe campaign for London Mayor is getting into full swing now and yesterday Ken Livingstone announced his plans for the Tube.

Interesting proposals and a challenge. The thing that most Londoners are aware of is one thing, which the "headline grabbing" leaflet from Boris Johnson shows. London's Transport is a mess. It's fine for tourists and people who use it occasionally but if you have to rely on it every day it really is a pain in the butt.

As much as people think I love the Tube, I don't. I find it interesting and I find the people on it interesting & funny. But if I had a job which meant I didn't have to use the Tube again, with other things being equal, I would take it like a shot.

London Transport is a mess leaflet taken by The Londoneer

I must thank Pete from The Londoneer for taking a picture of the leaflet. He said: "I went to the Stonewall-organised Mayoral Hustings at the NFT on the Southbank on Saturday, and I thought you might be interested in a piece of Boris's election material which has an interesting take on the Tube map."

It's very interesting. What to me was even more interesting is what Pete said about Boris at the hustings. "Boris, was much larger than life, but other than bendy buses and cycle routes he doesn't seem to have a handle on any other issues - some of his comments had the whole audience writhing with embarrassment at times. And when he prompted laughter, it was entirely 'at him' rather than 'with him'. I feel for him, poor man. Completely and utterly out of his depth ...."

One of the better things about Ken Livingstone is that he does use public transport & the Tube when I don't think he needs to (ie he's got the money to taxi more). He doesn't just use it for spin doctoring but travels on it pretty much like everyone else.

Ken on front page Londonpaper

There's been a number of sightings of him from me and other readers of this blog. Therefore he's aware of all the delays, overcrowding, break downs, crime, (expense - not so much as expense is relative to what you earn), heat, confusion, bad communication and all the other stuff that goes to make daily Tube commuting such a pleasure.

Views and comments
as usual, much appreciated!

Having problems deciding who to vote for? VoteMatch can help

I came across a fab little tool yesterday - mainly because they added my blog to their blogroll - thanks guys! Here's how they describe the site:

Vote Match is a short quiz that voters can fill in to match their views with the views of the election candidates. In the interests of minimising any unintended biases, the tool is intended to be as transparent as possible:

  • Candidates and parties will be asked to provide their own answers based on their own published policy.
  • Users can include and/or exclude parties and candidates from the survey as they see fit and add extra weight to those issues which they consider to be important.
  • The website does not simply give you an answer - it shows you how the results are calculated.

  • Vote Match is not about telling people how to vote and we do not support any political party. Rather, it is about encouraging voters to consider which issues are important and informing them about where the parties and candidates stand.

    VoteMatch has been used by over 25,000 people since it's launch on March 28th. I've just completed it - it took me two minutes to do and no surprises that Boris Johnson came last for me. The Green Party & Ken Livingstone were pretty much neck & neck. Give it a try yourself & see what comes out.

    ; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, April 23, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

    Tuesday, April 22, 2008

    Three and Out Movie Premiere & ASLEF

    Train drivers's union ASLEF were handing out leaflets at the West End premiere of Tube comedy Three and Out last night.

    Simon Rigglesworth was there and uploaded a picture of the leaflet.

    If you're planning to go and watch the film, I'd suggest not reading the letter in full as it reveals one of the number of twists in the movie.

    ASLEF leaflet - photo taken by Simon Rigglesworth

    To see Simon's other pictures from the premiere including Gemma Arterton looking very glam and Mackenzie Crook looking very ... err ... like Mackenzie Crook.

    Bond Girl Gemma Arterton at Three and Out Premiere by Simon Rigglesworth Mackenzie Crook at Three and Out Premiere by Simon Rigglesworth

    Nice shots of the Paparazzi at the premiere from internets_dairy

    Paparazzi by Internets Dairy

    Three and Out opens nationwide from April 25th and we've got the unions to thank for turning this interesting black comedy into a film that loads of people are talking about.

    Marc Benton (who stars in the film) is doing the voice over for the radio ads and a reviewer calls the film "deliciously twisted" - which having seen the whole film, is a fair view in my opinion (I was lucky enough to be invited to a blogger's screening). Just heard Mackenzie Crook on Heart FM saying that he hopes the drivers will actually watch the film as "they've kinda got the wrong end of the stick."

    ; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, April 22, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

    Tube Strike that never was - April 28th

    Tube Strike called off - April 21st 2008Some of you may know that the RMT were planning a 48 hour walk out from April 28th, 2008. Most of you will not, as I pleased to say that it looks as though it has already been called off.

    Bob Crow RMT leader said on Friday of the dispute over pensions: "We now have in writing undertakings that when the Metronet contracts are taken back in-house by TfL there will be no outsourcing, and that all Metronet staff will be entitled to join the TfL pension fund and enjoy the same travel facilities as other TfL employees,"

    "That marks substantial progress, and tonight's developments will be placed before the RMT executive on Monday, but on the basis of the written assurances received tonight I will be recommending that the dispute be ended.

    Although he was supposed to be confirming this on Monday (yesterday) at time of writing he seemed more concerned in jumping on the ASLEF bandwagon & starting to moan about Three and Out - the comedy film about a Tube driver & his search for a suicidal victim to jump under his train.

    He actually gives away one of the twists at the end - cos he's such a killjoy - so I'm not going to link to his comments, but part of his quote. He says: "The producers say they have handled difficult issues sensitively, but that is certainly not the case with the film's posters, which are plastered all over the Tube".

    Interesting that he feels that this is more important to comment on, rather than being able to confirm to the public whether his recommendation to call off the planned strike has in fact happened.

    ; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, April 22, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

    Monday, April 21, 2008

    Art Deco Tube Special - Travelling in a 1938 Tube train

    In a uncharacteristically sunny afternoon, yesterday we boarded the 1938 train and started our ride from Ealing Common to Uxbridge. The
    London Transport Museum had put on special trips on a 1938 stock train.

    Photo by DoYouMindTheGap Photo by DoYouMindTheGap

    "The train has an elegant semi-streamlined exterior with flush fitted windows ansd air operated sliding doors controlled automatically by the train guard. This was all the last word in modernity in 1938 when most main line passenger trains were still steam hauled with slam door coaches". Think Poirot (outside of London) and you'll know what the museum mean when they wrote this.

    Photo by DoYouMindTheGap Photo by DoYouMindTheGap

    "The designers ingeniously fitted all the electrical control equipment under the floor to give the maximum amount of passenger space. The train has comfortable cushion seating, wooden floors and elegant art deco lampshades that would not have looked out of place in a fashionable restaurant or nightclub in the 1930's. Even in rush hours, these trains felt cosy and welcoming. Standing passengers, always known as straphangers in the 1930s, could hang on to the black bakelite grab handles."

    To me, riding the train felt a little bumpier than modern stock and it seemed to bounce around a lot more. Unfortunately this made it difficult for me to take a lot of interior shots without them looking really blurry (although the one on the right below was OK).

    Photo by DoYouMindTheGap 1938 Art Deco Tour - Riding in the Sunshine

    Over 1200 of the Tube cars were built. They were operated in seven car trains, mainly on the Northern, Bakerloo & Piccadilly Lines. This was quite confusing for Chris aka MisterChris, (it was his first trip to London from Hawaii) & he couldn't quite get his head round being on train that was doing the route of the Piccadilly Line up to Uxbridge yet had Northern Line car diagrams in it.

    1938 Art Deco Tour - Vodka Ad

    This particular train was one of the last units to run in regular London Underground service until 1988 (hence the 1970's and 1980's ads in the cars).

    Fancy a job? by Ianvisits

    Love the salaries on these ads for station guards & foremen.

    Right now, the Isle of Wight has three of the former trains in regular use there. Even though some are now painted with strange graffiti

    Funny painted tube train from Ryde to Shanklin by Symphonic knot

    We were given some goodies, at the start of the trip, which make for interesting reading:

    1938 Art Deco Tour - tickets, 1953 map, postcard & details

    Many thanks to DoYouMindTheGap for the better pictures used on this post. His full set of the day is here. Thanks also to Ianvisits who's blogged the day, along with photos. Final thanks to the LT Museum for giving me a free ticket so it meant the trip for me and my friends (including Kris in Hawaii now in London for a bit - regular TFV commenter & Mecca) was cheaper than normal. Kris & Chris from Hawaii also have more in a link from their blog post of the day.

    The rest of my pictures from the Art Deco Tube special are here.

    ; Posted by annie mole Monday, April 21, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

    Sunday, April 20, 2008

    Old Street Station & Tube puking

    Had an enormously
    entertaining time (first thai food then pub) with some friends on Friday night and we all ended up going home from Old Street station:

    Old Street London Underground Station

    Sizemore & others (Rob, STML, Bookpirate Ben, Lyn, Jessa and Mecca) were going back to his & Jess's place to look at their kittens, but I decided to bail out and head straight home.

    I took the shot above after a few drinks, so I was amazed to see Old Street, on the roundel sign, coming through quite well.

    About 10 minutes later Sizemore took a picture of an alternative scene at Old Street.

    Just puked his guts up by Sizemore

    Sizemore said "The guy was puking for a looooong time. The carton (at his feet) was passed to him by a concerned passer by but he was too far gone to take it. THEN he got on the same Tube as us. When we got off a new set of concerned passengers were asking him if he was OK. I think he threw up on them.

    And then there was the smell from an entirely different part of the Tube to contend with.

    Ben, a new friend and Jessa ride the Stench Car by Sizemore

    Like Mecca, I wonder whether this was all part of "the big stink"?

    Marie F aka Tiger's Hungry, had a similar pukey experience on Wednesday night. She wrote: "I don't know how many people have seen Armando Iannuci's Tube Tales 'Mouth' segment - but it comes to mind quite vividly when I recount last night's journey home post the Forgetting Sarah Marshall screening.

    Drawing of Tube Sick man by Marie F

    She continues: "It was 11pm going eastbound on the Piccadilly line - around Leicester Sq. She was an amiable looking blonde lady (in hindsight maybe a little green around the gills) - that was until just she opened her mouth and projectiled the contents of her stomach across the end of the carriage.

    "After an initial few moments of gawping most of the carriage quickly herded down the other end covering their mouths and offering the occasional insightful 'oh that's gross' - but I was happy to see other sympathetic travellers fumbling in their bags to offer her tissues (to her testament I think it was genuine 'not wellness' to blame rather than booze). She quickly departed at the next stop leaving a gaggle of tourists scrabbling to relocate their sick laden luggage.

    "Yes the smell was bad for me, but at least it wasn't as bad as enduring what happened to the poor guy who got on at Holborn. Hastily boarding the carriage he lost his footing and after a few moments scrabbling about in the mess ended up on bended knee in the epicentre of events. To quote the experience in his words 'Oh f**ing lovely'. Yet he still valiantly took a hit for the team and stayed on the little end of carriage perch to warn fellow boarding travellers of the perils that lay within - and thankfully there was only a few future slippy near misses.

    "Some nice guy offered him tissues to clean his trousers up, I had no tissues- so I just evilly laughed. It didn't really feel appropriate to take photos of the misfortune - but there is an artist's impression of events.
    " (above)

    Ah the joys of London Underground travel.

    ; Posted by annie mole Sunday, April 20, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

    Terminal 5 Spoof Song could be real record

    As some of you know I'm not a great lover of
    Heathrow Terminal 5, so it was with some joy that I learnt from Metro that a spoof song mocking the airport, has been played on the radio, is an internet hit and could be made into a single.

    "The Terminal 5 Song is delivered in a rap style with lines such as: "It's the biggest terminal we've ever seen, It's a bigger disaster, you all know what I mean."

    The song & video were dreamt up by Tim Soong, whose wedding plans were disrupted after British Airways lost his luggage last year, including bride's wedding dress and best man's suit. The mixture of repressed Englishness with the rapping works well and I like how other countries such as Greece, France, Spain & The People's Republic of China are mocked up using somewhere distinctively London looking.

    The chorus is "I went down to get my bags, but I'm in France, and my bags are still in Terminal 5, Terminal 5, Terminal 1, 2, 3, 4, 5" Repeat with other countries instead of France.

    You can get a free mp3 download of the song here.

    ; Posted by annie mole Sunday, April 20, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

    Friday, April 18, 2008

    TfL paycuts from Boris

    "Boris Johnson has pledged to shake up Transport for London, where more than 100 staff pocket more than £100,000 a year, if he becomes mayor".

    TfL paycuts from Boris

    Johnson said "Hard working Londoners will find it shocking that this many executives inside of TfL are earning so much money."

    A TfL spokesperson obviously fought back claiming the executives were worth their salaries. He said: "This year's annual budget of £7.8 billion is the equivalent of a top 50 FTSE 100 company."

    Mmm I wonder what Boris earns?

    ; Posted by annie mole Friday, April 18, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

    ASLEF protesting at Three & Out Premiere

    Have ASLEF members not got anything better to do than
    hand out leaflets of protest against the premiere of Tube movie Three and Out?

    Aslef members to protest at premiere

    The film premieres at Leceister Square on Monday and some trains drivers will be saying "down with this sort of thing", as led by general secretary Keith Norman, they believe that suicide is no laughing matter.

    They will be handing out leaflets at the premiere which say "We hope you enjoy the movie tonight, but please remember that for train drivers like ourselves, deaths on the railway are never funny."

    You may remember Aslef were up in arms about this before. "The row has increased after three people died on the railway lines this week: a couple in Essex and a 66-year-old woman killed after getting her foot stuck on a pedestrian railway crossing."

    Keith Norman, general secretary of Aslef, said yesterday: "Last year 249 bodies ended up under trains. Of these, 194 were classified by the Rail Safety and Standards Board as suicides or suspected suicides.

    "Behind each of these is undeniably a terrible and tragic story of loneliness and despair. The union's specific concern is a secondary victim - and that is the driver."

    The film makers are naturally disappointed that ASLEF have reacted in this way. They added that everyone involved in the movie was aware of the "heartfelt issues that the film raises", and that filming was carried out "in close cooperation with London Underground".

    Having seen the film already I would totally agree, the film doesn't laugh at suicide but actually makes you wonder how far you would go to carry out a certain action.

    Update 18th April - from BBC's site - Lead actor Mackenzie Crook was asked: "if he was anticipating a backlash, Crook said he was more concerned "about seeing chewing gum on the end of my nose".

    "I don't expect to be pelted with eggs or anything like that," he continued when asked if he had any concerns about using the Tube in future.

    He did admit, however, it was "disconcerting" to see his face featured so prominently on the promotional material

    Good on Mackenzie Crook!

    Update 19th April - Very interesting development "Keith & Barry" have left a comment to this post of something that's purporting to be an apology from LU MD Tim O'Toole to his staff about Three & Out. I'm assuming "Keith & Barry" are LU staff. The memo sounds authentic enough to me and not a spoof from someone posing as Tim O'Toole.

    As "Keith & Barry" say, funny that LU were happy enough to take production company's money for shooting parts of the film on the London Underground itself. Also as O'Toole says the ads that are now running all over the network don't contravene any of CBS Outdoor's standards so they can't pull them (were also quite happy to take the revenue from the ads too), without risking any more bad publicity - for themselves - in my opinion.

    It seems to be slightly errr ... weird to be apologising to staff now, and not to have thought about this in advance. Presumably, they didn't know that ASLEF would take such a massive disapproval of the film (forget for the moment whether ASLEF saw the film or not).

    If the memo is a spoof I take back my thoughts above. But if it isn't Three and Out is getting more and more interesting as a film by the moment!

    Update 23rd April - Get to see a copy of the leaflet that ASLEF handed out at the premiere plus red carpet pictures of Mackenzie Crook & Gemma Arterton.

    Update 25th April
    - Three and Out is released nationwide. Later that evening Three and Out film makers announce they plan to sue LU for Tim O'Toole's comments.

    ; Posted by annie mole Friday, April 18, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

    Thursday, April 17, 2008

    1938 Art Deco Tube train outing Sunday 20 April 2008

    Thanks to a colleague I've just learnt that this Sunday the fab
    London Tranpsort Museum are arranging a number of special trips on 1938 stock train. The trains leave Ealing Common station at 11.07am, 1.07pm and 3.07pm. The round trip takes approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes.

    "The elegant interior, with varnished wood, red and green finishes and art deco lampshades, has a warm and cosy appearance."

    Tickets cost £26 (£22 for concessions) and must be booked in advance on 0207 565 7298.

    Damien Lewis on 1930's Tube Stock in Poirot

    I may well try to go along to this as I don't live far from Ealing and I LOVE the general 1920's 1930's Poirot era so it would be a great opportunity for some pictures and that "luxury" Orient Express feel.

    May also be nice for Kris & her son who are flying over from Hawaii (weirdly enough the setting of the film Forgetting Sarah Marshall) today, so will see if they are up for it too.

    Update - they are on for it so the three of us will be going on Sunday - really looking forward to it. We'll be on the 3.07pm train. Plus I must say a massive thanks to the Community side of the London Transport Museum who gave me one free ticket for this for helping to arrange the Flickr meetup there.

    PS: Next week I will do a full update post from our Flickr Mini LT Museum Meet Up & mini competition at the museum, as they winning photos are now on the museum's website.

    ; Posted by annie mole Thursday, April 17, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

    Forgetting Sarah Marshall - Review & Bloggers Preview Screening

    Many thanks to
    Sizemore for the invite to me and a number of my blogging friends to go and see Forgetting Sarah Marshall last night. If you're in London you many have seen the ads featuring our very own Russell Brand gracing the sides of buses:

    Forgetting Sarah Marshall Ad on London Bus

    I must admit, I wasn't expecting a lot of the film. I think Russell Brand is funny, but couldn't really imagine him playing anyone else other than Russell Brand. Plus I
    had actually never seen anything the other lead actors, Jason Segel, Kristen Bell and Mila Kunis had been in (although apparently they're very famous in the US).

    In a nutshell the film calls itself a "romantic disaster comedy" and is about one guy - Peter Bretter (Jason Segel) trying to get over the heartache of being dumped by Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell). She dumps him for Brit rockstar lothario - Aldous Snow, played by - you've guessed it - Russell Brand.

    The film was absolutely hysterical - really laugh out loud funny, as the small screening of 30 odd bloggers testified (that's odd in number rather than odd, odd - but then again...).

    Right from the start and as you can partly see from the trailer below, Segel's character gets dumped when he's butt nekkid. You think the camera will pan down the naked Segel and then tastefully stop to prevent offending the viewers. But no, it goes all the way down, (he's bollox naked) making the audience share Segel's humiliation & embarrassment. He refuses to dress thinking that she wouldn't have the gall to dump him in that way - he's wrong, she's a shallow actress does the dirty deed, leaving him sobbing (something he does for much of the film).

    Russell Brand plays himself basically, and it works perfectly for the film (except Brand isn't really a pop star). Producer Judd Apatow said: "After we met Russell, we tailored the part to who he is. He has this very flamboyant nature, and we knew we had to turn his character into a rock star, because he looks so good in leather pants. Russell was the find of the century.... oozing with undeniable sexual energy and rock star good looks .... I realised he was the dude. We did a complete rewrite for him."

    I loved the comedy of the US not quite getting the Brits. We're not all like Russell Brand, but we possibly are a bit more "sexually free" than most Americans (I know that's a generalisation but bear with me). Sarah Marshall dumped Peter because she was seeing Russell Brand's character. When Peter finds out for how long he goes mad, and says something like:

    "You can't go out with another girl's guy over here. We have a different set of rules. You can't keep behaving like a European".

    There were lots of deliberately funny Brit accents coming out from the US characters. We laughed with Brand, as he rolled his eyes and says: "Is that supposed to be a British accent".

    You'll see in the trailer below that when Paul Rudd's surfing coach hears Brand speak for the first time he says (adopts rubbish Cockney accent) "You sound like you're from Lahndahn!". To an audience of London bloggers that was music to our ears.

    The screening at the private Soho Screening Room was not without its comedic moments. Towards the end of the film, the screen went blank. We thought it may have been part of the film, but then like getting stuck between tunnels on the Tube, the wait in the dark was a bit too long. We laughed nervously and people began to turn on mobile phones to get some light into the room. After about three minutes of joking and laughing amongst ourselves order was restored & the film continued.

    Thanks to LJ, Francine, Sandrine & Poppy for being my guests. Mecca also wangled herself a place from Sizemore and brought along some nice people from MOO. Also nice to catch up with James Whatley, Darika, Katie Lee, WarriorGrrl, Tiara Diamond, Londonfilmgeek, & Imajes (& others I didn't catch up with) who may well all be blogging & reviewing too. Overall it was a rocking film and a rocking night, as many of us decamped for food & bevvies afterwards.

    Forgetting Sarah Marshall is out in Lahndahn and the UK from April 23rd.

    ; Posted by annie mole Thursday, April 17, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

    Wednesday, April 16, 2008

    A London Commuter's Breakfast

    I never eat a proper breakfast on weekdays, as I'm usually in too much of a rush and it's just a bad habit that I've got into. The photo below shows my "breakfast" this morning:

    My weekday breakfast

    I wonder how typical it is of most Londoners' breakfasts on weekdays? A cup of tea or coffee. A probiotic drinking yoghurt or something else that can be glugged down very quickly. I see people on the London Underground all time just drinking coffee or juice or Red Bull or Coke. A few people munch on a croissant or a pastry from a coffee shop. The odd person here or there might be lucky enough to have a bacon roll or sarnie.

    The Guardian had an interesting supplement on Saturday which was a guide to The Bigger Breakfast

    The Bigger Breakfast - Guardian Supplement

    TimeOut did something similar last week. Sometimes I wish my breakfast looked more like the one above, but how many people can afford to have a lovely breakfast like that every day? The alternative is cafe or caff. The supplement looks at all sorts of places where you can get a good breakfast. There are loads of reviews from a couple of my London blogging & Flickr mates - Russell Davies & Malcolm Eggs (and his reviewers - who have some amazing names!). Both of these guys are really funny, have been blogging for years and they clearly have a love of food (in particular breakfasts). It made their reviews for The Guardian a great & fair read.

    But help me out this morning. How typical is this breakfast cafe culture? Tell me what you had or are about to have for breakfast. Was this typical of your normal weekday breakfast? Did you make it yourself or did you buy it in a shop or cafe? Are you going to wait until you get into work and have breakfast at your desk? Does your employer have a canteen or do they provide a kitchen with free brekkie stuff & fruit (mine does) or do you have to bring in your own bread & cereals, jams or whatever? Ta muchly!

    ; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, April 16, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

    Tuesday, April 15, 2008

    Bob Monkhouse now (a)Live on the Tube

    Early last month,
    CBS Outdoor, the people who manage the ads that you see on the London Underground, announced the winners of their Underground Writers Competition. The overall winning campaign was the concept of comedian Bob Monkhouse talking to commuters after his death from Prostate Cancer. Well, every pun intended, the ad is now alive and well on the Tube itself.

    Bob Monkhouse Live on the Tube

    It was fab to see it actually on the Tube, which was part of the prize for the agency that created the ad - The Communications Agency.

    Bob Monkhouse (who died in 2003) was an all time great comedian - the godfather of the cheesy joke who had enough of a sense of his own cheesiness to survive (just about) into the 21st century. He left a living obituary as part of a TV ad as knew his prostate cancer would kill him.

    The underground treatment works perfectly with Bob pushing up daisies and making jokes about the Northern Line. "To cut a long story short I was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer and two years later I was dead (It's a bit like travelling on the Northern Line only quieter)".

    I said it before and I'll say it again, it's a brill campaign. How many of us will ever be lucky enough to continue to make people laugh after we've died? How many of us will know that we're also raising awareness of how to fight the disease that killed us, at the same time?

    Seeing the ad in the flesh brought up a mixture of emotions in me. I genuinely get upset when comedians die. There's not enough laughter in this world & I can honestly remember where I was when I heard that many comedy legends had died.

    The ad made me think of all the people I know who have died of some form of cancer. It made me think of all the people I know who have died. It made me think about my own death. Yet Bob's cheery face pointing out at me from the grave, making a corny joke about having a finger inserted in his nether regions, made me silently chuckle too.

    Rest in peace Bob & keep cracking jokes while you're 6ft under.

    ; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, April 15, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

    Men only subway carriages?

    Only in Japan. One of these days I will stop doing these "only in Japan" posts, but the commuters & behaviour on the subway system there, never ceases to amaze me.

    Male Passengers Fear False Molestation Charges from Japanprobe.com

    Some time back I blogged about the false straphangers that were selling like hotcakes in Japan. They were designed to combat the constant allegations of female groping on the subway there, and so that men could show they had something in their hands other than a woman's arse.

    false straphangers

    Thanks to a regular commenter Jon, I learn that this has been taken one step further and the idea of men only carriages is being campaigned for.

    Japanprobe report on an article in Mainichi Daily News "The recent arrest of an Osaka couple for trying to set up a middle-aged man by falsely accusing him of fondling a woman train traveler has large numbers of salarymen shaking in their boots at the thought of being blackmailed by crafty commuters looking for a quick buck. This has heightened calls on railroad companies to set up sanctuaries where men can travel in peace, safe in the knowledge that they won’t be accused of molestation.

    Most railroad companies say they consider the issue a serious one.

    'It's true we've received over 20 formal requests for the establishment of men's only carriages since the false accusation arrest (early last month). But actually, we've been receiving requests for theses carriages for a long time now. It's not something that has started recently,' a spokesman for the Osaka Municipal Transportation Bureau, which runs the city's subway network, tells Weekly Playboy.

    But the outlook for men’s only carriages seems dim.

    'We get a lot of requests for them and take note of these, but we have no plans regarding carriages exclusively for men at this time,' a spokesman for the East Japan Railway Co. (JR East) says.

    Keio Electric Railway Co., which back in 2000 became Japan's first railroad to introduce women's only carriages, also has no current arrangements in place to correct the gender imbalance on its routes

    There's even a book on the subject of false molestation claims and its author, Masaki Ikegami told Weekly Playboy

    "It's a sad situation that men have to do a banzai cheer (raise both arms skyward) while commuting (to avoid touching anyone else). Male commuters have got to look after themselves by taking such steps as avoiding standing close to carriage doors, staying well away from female commuters and never being directly behind a woman riding a train. There are loads of people out there who have been falsely accused of groping female train travellers. I have repeatedly called on train companies to set up carriages just for men so that we can offer relief to all those with worries."

    It's interesting that this all comes from Weekly Playboy magazine. Wonder if the guys who read it are looking for tips on how not to get accused because they are the very guys doing the groping?

    ; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, April 15, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

    Celebrate The Victoria Line is working all day

    Brill photo from
    Martin Deutsch

    Yes by Martin Deutsch

    It would have been even funnier coming from the Northern Line.

    Martin is certainly king of the London Underground Temporary Notices group on Flickr.

    ; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, April 15, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

    Sunday, April 13, 2008

    London Marathon & "Northern Line" Magazine

    Very, very regular readers who've been with this blog some years (amazingly there are a few of you left) may remember that I used have a working relationship with the London Marathon and had to attend the expo there for a number of years. In 2004 it led to some strange posts about
    Train Tourettes Syndrome, Elephant & Gibberish and Rhinos on the Tube.

    Later today, I'll probably be watching the London Marathon from my sofa, feeling sorry for my hard working ex colleagues & current friends who'll be cheering on the runners come rain, snow, hail or shine.

    MOO'd Kai by Justgiving

    So it was nice that another ex-colleague sent me a copy of a fab looking little magazine called the other side. Its rather snappy subtitle is "The cut and thrust of the Northern Line (not a pirate mag) Foisting its way into your heart."

    the other side - Northern Line Magazine

    There's the mag pictured next door to my Saucony trainers purchased at the 2004 London Marathon Expo and still going strong (probably through lack of use more than the quality of the brand).

    The other side is a bit like smoke london but tries to focus on the Northern Line - a challenge in itself.

    Apparently "The Other Side began following a conversation with an elderly gentleman onboard the number 73 bus regarding the London Lite. His exact words were 'I wouldn’t wipe my arse with that drivel.' And lo the Other Side was born.

    Not only telling you where to go and what to do along the Northern Line, but also entertaining you as you get there. No more will you have to turn to the tabloid hackery of the gutter press to wile away those infuriating minutes when you're stuck in a tunnel. Now you can open a copy of the lovingly fashioned Other Side and the frustration will melt away!

    This month's edition carries a feature called "Wee Here" - "We've all been there, the Tube pulls into Tottenham Court Road and you're busting for a wizz. It's still at best, a four minute walk to the exits. Then it's decision time; where to go, is it that desperate that you resort to the McDonalds bog or can you hold your bladder long enough to make it to the tranquillity of the Oxford Street department store WCs. ....".

    There's stuff on the mayoral elections, and a three page feature on Brit film Son of Rambow. It's wowing the critics at Sundance and is released in the UK next week. The director Garth Jennings is interviewed & Spaced actress Jessica Hynes (formerly Jessica Stephenson) also stars in the film and gives her views on writing & a possible Spaced reunion.

    Even though the London Marathon takes the cover spot, the writers are less than impressed with the event "On Sunday April 13th, watch a bunch of ruddy idiots run for ruddy charity and show how amazing they are. Go on. Boost their ego and laugh at the fools who dress up in suits of armour and fall over. If you're lucky a smarmy celebrity will sick their guts up trying to impress the world."

    However, you get the opportunity to "Sponsor our ruddy idiot who claims she's running 26 miles for dogs."

    If you would like to contribute they are looking for new writers. Like most mags of this size I imagine they won't be able to pay you - but you get valuable exposure which could lead to something else.

    Overall it's remarkably like the Northern Line - it's miserable, yet quite funny. It's not exactly polished and could do with some improved finishing, yet it sort of does the job. In magazine terms that's keeping you entertained on your commute. In Northern Line terms that's getting 206,734,000 passengers sort of from A to B each year. I wish them both well.

    UPDATE - A few pictures I liked from Sunday's London Marathon:

    Sonic runs the marathon by pixellent TK-4890, why aren't you at your post? by Mr Jam Wrong by Simon Rigglesworth

    ; Posted by annie mole Sunday, April 13, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE