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Annie Mole's, daily web log (blog) & “guide” to the London Underground
If you like this you'll LURVE One Stop Short of Barking, the fun and informative book about travelling
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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Emergency Margaritas on the Tube

Brilliant "In case of emergency" sign spotted on the London Underground by the eagle eyed
Stuart Clary on the Victoria Line

Emergency Tube Margarita taken by Stuart Clary

He said "It was stuck in the same place that a normal one would be, next to a door".

Wonder how many people decided to follow its instructions? I suppose if you're going to get fined for drinking on the Tube, you may as well get fined for enjoying something like a Margarita rather than a can of Fosters! See my earlier post about the evil Foster drinkers flouting the Tube alcohol ban.

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, July 31, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Londoners not paying for Oyster Card Failures

At a Transport for London board meeting yesterday, Commissioner of TfL Peter Hendy confirmed that neither Londoners nor TfL would pay for the cost of the
two recent Oyster card failures.

Oyster cards broken again by Martin Deutsch

Guardian writer Dave Hill who was at the meeting said on his personal blog, that Hendy

"explained that it was all the fault of TranSys, the EDS/Cubic partnership that runs the Oyster system under PFI (Do I sound as though I know what all this means?). Hendy said the incidents showed a "lack of understanding" by TranSys of the thing they're meant to be operating. Gives you confidence, doesn't it? He'll be "seeking recovery" from TranSys of the estimated £1 million lost in the two cock-ups."

Good to hear that we won't be paying for it (hopefully - I imagine that it was the real Peter Hendy saying this and not the MySpace one) and thanks to Dave Hill for giving me the heads up to this.

UPDATE - Dave's put up more of the the rest of the TfL Board Meeting here.

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, July 31, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Torn on the Platform Top Train Anthem

Thanks to a random
Twitter conversation this morning about dancing zombies and social media dance offs and Web 2.0 Musicals, I can't get Jack Penate's, top train song Torn on the Platform out of my head

He was also at Lovebox although we must have missed him do this as we missed the beginning of his set then got bored with him and wandered off so something else. How fickle!

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, July 31, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Xmas in July & London Bloggers Summer Party

Last night I was treated to
Xmas in July. L J Rich took me along to a gadgety event where I saw a preview of new geeky stuff that will be out in time for Xmas.

Empty Headed

The best thing were some noise reduction headphones. Not from Sony (as pictured above) but from Etymotic. I'll be reviewing them later once I've ordered a set to try out on the London Underground, as I am sure I am deafening myself by turning up the volume unnecessarily loud to over compensate the Tube noise.

Following that we sped along to London Blogger's Summer Party which was sponsored by Stella Artois. Fortunately Stella had the good sense to not just supply as with Stella itself as I would have been in less of a fit state to write this post.

In addition to the drinks and six trips on their airship - Star over London - as prizes for the best reviews of London pubs, they gave us some Stella glasses and USB keys which you can see modelled below:

Modelling Stella Stuff

In Conversation at London Bloggers Summer Party

Le French at London Bloggers Summer Party

Stella glasses and USB key

There seriously were too many bloggers there I know to mention you all by name, but you know who you all are. I had a fab time chewing the fat and thanks to Jason Mical who arranged all of the stuff from Stella and to Andy Bargery for keeping the monthly London Bloggers Meetups going really well and finding a great venue with a lovely riverside view.

View from London Bloggers Summer Party

Must improve my camera skills or drink less in order to take better shots! There's a few more photos here, but I imagine, as sure as bloggers are bloggers, there'll be more pictures popping up on London blogs soon. Peter Marshall has added a load of pictures to the summer party pool.

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

F'ing Breakfast Treat

There were lots of bloggers and cooks from
Nom Nom Nom at the MOO party last week. It was like a mini reunion. Richard Moross MOO's founder from Uncook'd, L J Rich from the Avocadolls, James Whatley from Go Team Six, Tom Reynolds from Letting an idiot near a knife , Jon from the Cream Team, Ged Carroll from Gedmei, my partners in crime Walid from Trustedplaces & Mex from MOO, judge Jo Hemmings fresh from a stint on Big Brother on the Couch, Jamillah from BBC Radio 5's Pods & Blogs who recorded us for the show AND Malcolm Eggs from Eggs Factor, the editor of London Review of Breakfasts.

The High Net Worth by Richard Moross

Which leads me to his brilliant post on Gordon Ramsey from the C4's The F Word and a review of breakfast at the Maze Grill in Mayfair. I'm not going to quote anything from it, as you really need to read it. Funny thing was the breakfast did remind me of some of the breakfasts that Richard Moross & Russell Davies prepared.

The Come Down by Richard Moross

The Come Down by Russell Davies

Moross & Davies were the Hares of Nom Nom Nom and a classic case of concept over substance. Excellent concept but poor execution, mainly because they spent more time in drinking milkshakes in the sun and didn't leave enough time to finish off their minimalist breakfasts. But thankfully, unlike Ramsey, at least they weren't charging £26 for a "full" English breakfast!

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

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Bolli's Girlfriend Millie needs your votes

Out with my old college friends on Saturday (the ones I was discussing the
Tube Book Group with) and took some pictures of Millie their very attractive tabby cat. She's up in the running for Purina's Pet of Day so it would be great if you could vote for her:

Stripey Cat on Stripey Deck

Just look for this picture above on this link and click on the green paw print to vote.

I'm sure she'd make a suitable girlfriend for my cat Bolli and if the two of them met, who knows what sort of kittens would come out of it.

That's it, as Bolli would say KThxBai.

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, July 29, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Oyster card hack can be published

Not that we need much in the way of Oyster card hacks when the London Underground seem to be doing a good enough job of letting us have
free Tube travel themselves. However, it looks like a Dutch hack can be shared - not for illegalities (no way) but the Dutch reckon hacking should be shared to get the powers that be to tighten up the system. A court in the Netherlands also agrees.

Oyster card wallet

In March 2008 security weaknesses in the Oyster card were discovered by Professor Bart Jacobs and others from Radboud University, Nijmegen.

The BBC give a good summary: "The weaknesses centre on the chip, called the Mifare Classic, that sits at the heart of the contactless card system. As well as being used on 17 million Oyster cards, the Mifare chip is used by about 1bn smartcards worldwide, and is the basis of the Dutch Rijkspas card.

Many organisations, including governments, use Mifare technology as a secure entry system for buildings. Given the many millions of cards in use Prof Jacobs held off publishing details about how the information on the chips can be copied and used. It told the Dutch government and NXP about its work to give them time to harden systems against the attack.

Despite this, NXP sought an injunction to ensure the details of the attack would never be aired. The case went to court in Holland and now the court in Arnhem has overturned the injunction citing local freedom of expression laws.
" Thanks to Dav for first alerting me to this.

So that's all well and good, but what do Transport for London feel about the freedom to share how to hack the Oyster card? A spokesperson said:

"Transport for London remains confident in the security of the Oyster card system. We take fraud and the security of personal data extremely seriously and constantly review our security procedures."

"Any fraudulent card would be identified within 24 hours of being used and blocked. Using a fraudulent card for free travel is subject to prosecution and we would seek to enforce this wherever possible."

We'll see what happens in October when the research will be published by Professor Bart Jacobs (love that he's called Bart - it's just what you'd imagine Bart Simpson would do if he grew up to be an academic) & his mates.

I still prefer the much more playful Oyster card meltdown involving a jar of beetroot, some nail varnish remover & a few hours to create your own Oyster magic wand.

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, July 29, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Monday, July 28, 2008

100 Tube staff strike over staff assault

If you're travelling on the Bakerloo Line today and use Charing Cross, Elephant & Castle and Lambeth North stations, you might notice some picketing London Underground staff. From 7pm on Sunday night 100 LU staff staged a
24 hour walkout over the sacking of a colleague.

Jerome Bowes, a station assistant at Elephant & Castle station, was sacked for defending himself against the assault from a passenger who had already been involved in a fight. According to the RMT union, neither the Metropolitan Police nor the British Transport Police felt that there was anything to arrest Bowes for.

D*n't t@ke !t out by Mags

The fight took place on New Year's Eve and RMT leader Bob Crow said:

"Jerome Bowes was sacked for defending himself against an attack from behind from someone who had already been involved in a fight on the most volatile night of the year, and that is unacceptable,

"Neither the Met nor the BTP found any cause to arrest Jerome, who was walking away towards a place of safety when he was assaulted, and it beggars belief that LUL has seen fit to dismiss him.

"The message London Underground seems to be sending out is that defending yourself against violent assault is to be regarded as a disciplinary offence, and it is no wonder that our members are angry and disgusted

It's a fairly tricky one this, as just because the police didn't feel that Bowes should be arrested, doesn't necessarily mean that LU aren't within their rights to sack him.

The fairness of this is a different matter. London Underground told the BBC that "We do not tolerate any assault, verbal or physical, on staff or passengers." There's even posters about it on the Tube (see above). However, they go ahead and sack a man for defending himself against a violent attack. Now that to me, and presumably to the 100 striking staff on the Bakerloo line, seems wrong.

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

Underground Reads - NYC Subway - Tube Next?

The London Underground is a great place to read and I often see people on the Tube reading the same book or the same book as me. It's a like a book group but with no one actually speaking about their books.

Book Twins on the Tube

Last week I saw two women (pictured above - who really looked slightly similar too), both reading Patrick Gale's Notes from an Exhibition. I couldn't resist taking a picture as I've never seen complete strangers reading the same book side by side like this before.

On Saturday I spent the day with my old college friends and we were talking about book groups & I showed them this photo. Two of them had read the book. One of them was in love with Patrick Gale and thought the book was fab. One was a bit sceptical about book groups as she felt that there was a worrying level of competitiveness in them and that people felt that they had to devise fantastic pitches to get their book selected to be read. Then a further worry of coming up with intelligent questions to get the discussion going. Add to that another worry about finding something smart to say when you'd read the book, to her equalled nightmare which took all joy out of reading.

I disagreed as I belonged to a large London Book Group for about 18 months and I never felt we had that level of competitiveness displayed. We read some great books and I discovered books that I now love which I might never have discovered without the book group.

When I see a lot of people reading the same book on the Tube, I often use that as a recommendation of sorts. Or I feel like giving a thumbs up or a big smile to someone who's reading a book I've read, or even something by the an author I like.

Reading New York Trilogy on the Tube

I'm a Paul Auster fan, so really wanted to ask the bloke reading New York Trilogy above, what he thought of it.

Photo from Underground ReadsRob Hinchliffe Qype's Community Manager told me about a great blog which shows what people on the New York Subway are reading - Underground Reads. Garth Wolkoff is going round watching what people are reading on the Metro and asking them for a quick review or even asking for a picture of the traveller with their book.

It's a great idea and creates an online book group of sorts. One without any competitiveness and no pressure to actually read the books if you don't want to.

What do you think? Do you read books a lot on the Tube or do you stick to papers? What happens when you see people reading the same book as you - have you ever asked them about it - or like me do you just smile to yourself, happy in the knowledge that you're in a secret London Tube Book Group?

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

Sunday, July 27, 2008

MOO party hat on the Tube

Browsing through Flickr friend's pictures and came across a lovely shot from
Angelsk taken on the London Underground leaving the MOO party.

Fail Hat by Angelsk

If he'd had been sitting next to our bowler hatted guy at King's Cross it would have been even better.

King's Cross Bowler Hat and Umbrella

I also saw a bowler hat MOO sticker on the Oyster card reader at Liverpool Street just as I swiped myself in, but was too knackered to take a photo.

365+19 Fail Whale by Angelsk

Bit worried that Angelsk's Fail Whale combined with the bowler hat sticker on the Oyster card reader may have caused Friday's Oyster card Failure on the Tube. You never know how these things work!

; Posted by annie mole Sunday, July 27, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Blogging gets the girls

Just wanted to share a brill TV ad for Twix from the US that shows just how mainstream blogging has become.

So if you're a blogger and the next time someone asks you why you blog - just say "It helps me get hot chicks / guys". (Thanks to
Bloggers Blog who I follow on Twitter for the link)

Oh and a quick reminder, it's closing day today for the Onya bag competition. There have been some fab entries so far, but if you haven't entered you've got till 11.59pm this evening (British Time) to have a go. KThxbai.

; Posted by annie mole Sunday, July 27, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Cabbie Night Tonight - BBC4

Quick reminder that
BBC4 are running Cabbie Night tonight from 8.30pm. The centrepiece of the night is Zimena Percival's film Cab Driver for Arena, which I was lucky enough to see the premier of at the London Transport Museum a week ago.

Zimena Percival and Len Fox from BBC4's Cab Driver 2

Clue 6 - Cabin near sacred station

There's some great conversations / discussions / rants that take place in these little green cabins (pictured above) around London where cabbies take their breaks.

You can read my review Cab Driver here. Watching the film (which is now on BBC's iPlayer) may knock away some of your opinions of taxi drivers, or may just confirm them even more - who knows? Next Saturday it's Tube Night. Enjoy.

; Posted by annie mole Saturday, July 26, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Friday, July 25, 2008

Free Tube Travel - Oyster card system broken again

Just woken up with a minor hangover (thanks to the
MOO party) to hear the news that the Oyster card system has failed again & all the gates are open on the Tube, meaning free travel. Buses aren't affected this time. Now considering we were told the chances of this happening were slim and it's now happened twice in two weeks, shows that something's err ... wrong.

Oyster cards broken again by Martin Deutsch

Here's a reminder of what happened on the 12th July when the Oyster card system failed. That was on a Saturday when fewer people travel, but still it was reported that anything from 40,000 to 100,000 passengers had their cards corrupted and travelling on the London Underground the following Monday was a bit rubbish for those commuters.

Pay as you go cards are borked today, so don't touch the readers with them, even if you see the gates open on the Tube.

Oyster card free-for-all

So if you have an Oyster card listen out for more news and keep an eye on TfL's website - although at the time of writing 7.30am there's nowt, nada, nothing on the Transport for London site to show any problems. Perhaps they were all at the MOO party and are suffering a bit this morning too.

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

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Policing the London Underground - Tube Photos of the Week

I always thought that the British Transport Police needed more help on the Tube, and it looks like they've enlisted some help from Star Wars:

Being a minion isn't what it used to be by Graham Parks

Thanks to Graham Parks for that photo taken at Earl's Court on the District Line.

Looks like a job for the above here, as Dave Hodgkinson spotted the following anarchists on the Tube blatantly flouting the law against drinking on the London Underground.

Evil Tube Drinkers by Dave H

When sending this photo to me, Dave said "Where's the SWAT team then, eh? It's not the drinking that pisses me off, it's the lack of enforcement of an unenforceable law.


Looks like the police may have been too busy chatting to their new Stormtrooper mates to notice.

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

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tube is the Pits for Advertising

At the risk of giving Right Guard even more publicity but to stop people from emailing me saying "Have you seen this?". Right Guard antiperspirant, clearly on too many drugs from their
Lovebox Love Van sponsorship are supposedly trialling armpit advertising or pitvertising. Where else to do this, but on the London Underground?

Tube pitvertising

Ananova broke the "news":

"The innovative new concept uses digital TV screens built into the armpits of shirts. It was developed by deodorant manufacturer Right Guard as the ideal way to market its products.

A hired team of 'Pitvertisers' was sent out into the streets of London to test the new medium.

Passers-by were reportedly amazed by the new marketing tactic - some were clearly impressed; but others thought it the pits

As soon as I heard about this I thought it was an April Fool. But you're sposed to believe Ananova aren't you? By the time the third person had told me about it and muttered about photoshop, I thought, they don't really need photoshop for this and could easily get a couple of people from the office to stage the shot on the Tube.

But good for them, they've managed to convince a number of other sites that the technology exists including Engadget, WatchingTVOnline, Crunchgear, ubergizmo and gizmodo. I'm sure many others are also reporting that it's a real trial.

Thanks to Jon Justice, Webponce & Wayne Z for being the first three to alert me to this.

If someone from Right Guard would like to invite me to see this "trial" in action and to see the product brief, rationale & business case for it I'd be more than happy to eat my words.

In the meantime you might find the people from ImprovEverywhere or Spacehijackers having a go at convincing people that any ads in people's armpits would be good for the Tube or subway.

Dangly Bobbles by Martin Deutsch

We spend enough time looking at people's armpits in the rush hour perhaps the guys from Right Guard aren't so mad after all. Or perhaps they'd be better off sponsoring some of the straphangers (above) which are now part of the London Transport Museum's exhibits.

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

Monday, July 21, 2008

Love starts on the Tube - Lovebox 2008

Monday morning and recovering from Lovebox yesterday. If you want to see how this photo taken at Mile End London Underground Station turned to the most amazing summer festival I've been to, the
photos from Lovebox 2008 will tell their own story

45 - Mile End London Underground Station - Lovebox start

27 - Lovebox Van - 2008

Goldfrapp's amazing Happiness set:

16 - Goldfrapp Happiness set - Lovebox 2008

Goldfrapp and the wolf women:

8 - Goldfrapp and Wolf Women - Lovebox 2008

Plus other Lovebox Love
25 - Are we having fun yet - Lovebox 2008 17 - Goldfrapp Happiness set - Lovebox 2008 42 - Sebastien Tellier - Lovebox 2008 40 - Lovebox 2008

Don't forget, I'm sharing the love with a Lovebox competition and your chance to win an Onya Bag. Enjoy!

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

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Love London, Lovebox, Love the planet? - Win an Onya bag

I'm going to
Lovebox today which is the first of my summer music festivals this year. I like my creature comforts too much & won't do any festivals involving camping. Spending some days in big parks listening to music without all the wellington boot & trench foot & communal showers & cleaning your teeth in a field stuff is fine by me.

The only thing I have to "worry" about is wondering whether the London Overground will be running OK so I can go to Highbury & Islington and then get a bus (unfortunately not like the loved up one on the postcard below) to Victoria Park, or whether I have to take the London Underground to Mile End & walk. Even though TfL's site shows no problems with the London Overground today, I've not seen one go past my house - so currently can't trust it.

Love London Postcard - London Transport Museum

Lovebox Weekender Tickets

In the spirit of Love, I was given a bundle of Onya bags by the lovely guys and gals at Onya, for no real reason other than changing a link I had to their Australian site to the UK site, when I blogged about Kew Gardens going Plastic Bag free. So they gave me the bags as a thank you - which is remarkably sweet of them.

Your chance to win an Onya Bag Onya bags in Kew Gardens Oliver's Whole Food shop

So I'm sharing the bounty & giving them away. If you want to do your little bit to "Love the Planet", use fewer plastic bags and have a tiny but super strong bag instead there's three ways you can get one.

1. Have a look at yesterday's entry about the London Transport Museum. There's an error in one of the photos - if you're the first person to spot the error I'm thinking of, you get an Onya backpack.

2. Goldfrapp are playing at today's Lovebox, hopefully they'll be performing Happiness, which is my new favourite track of theirs. (Update to say they "performed" Happiness at Lovebox was an understatement - it was mind blowingly mad - photos from Lovebox here) Who's the best dancer at the end of the video & why? Person I think has the best reason gets an Onya original bag.

3. That leaves two bags. I'll get Onya involved in this one. Just tell us why you want an Onya bag. The two answers that me & Onya like the most will get an Onya original bag each.

Leave your answers in the comments below and you've got till 11.59pm UK time on Sunday 27th July for your answers. Please leave an email address or a blog address or some way for me to get in touch with you too.

If you want to return the love - a vote for Team Bank would also be much appreciated - cos we're losing Ahh, no worries we came 2nd in the end! Thanks for voting!

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

Saturday, July 19, 2008

London Transport Museum - Rockin' Cocktails, Rockin' Stories

At the risk of sounding like an anorak, the
London Transport Museum is seriously my favourite museum in London. Admittedly I don't go to many, but it's turning into a place that's not just a collection of things (mainly trains, Tubes & buses like it used to be, before the multi million pound refurbishment) but it's a collection of stories and people's lives. Which rocks!

Cocktail recipes in London Transport Museum - Upper Deck

Last night I was there for the premiere of Cab Driver - a BBC4 documentary about London's black cabs. I'm lucky enough to know Zimena Percival, the producer & director, as she somehow persuaded me to do all manner of stupid things for her Arena documentary on the London Underground a couple of years ago.

Zimena Percival and Len Fox from BBC4's Cab Driver

So knowing Zimena and her dogged determination for finding characters (like cabbie turned counsellor Len Fox) and getting them to tell their stories rather than doing a "love fest" on the transport itself, I had a feeling that Cab Driver was going to be good. The audience in the Cubic Theatre at London Transport Museum (brill moquette on the seats) weren't disappointed. It was funny, touching, sad, informative, thoughtful, uplifting, ridiculously sweary (it was a film about cabbies), musical and basically brill. You can see it for yourself on the 26th July 2008 on BBC4.

It's the middle part of her "Transport Trilogy" made with the support of the London Transport Museum. Tonight at 9pm on BBC4 you can see a repeat of her film on London's Routemaster or double decker bus as part of Bus Night. Next Saturday, it's Cabbie Night and then on the 2nd August it's a repeat of Tube Night, with me.

But back to the Museum, they're continuing with their trend of amazing design values by working with people like Ted Baker who's produced a whole lot of T-shirts & accessories for them.

Ted Tini Cocktail - Upper Deck - London Transport Museum

There's a Ted Tini cocktail in his honour too and last night we had a few "Where 2 Guv" cocktails in discounted to £4.50 each for the Cabbie evening.

Where 2 Guv -  Upper Deck - London Transport Museum Two Where 2 Guvs and a Lychee Collins - Upper Deck - London Transport Museum

You can also buy umbrellas with "I don't go South of the River" on them.

For a museum that's about transport it's as much a museum about people and their lives and their stories. I chatted with Wendy Neville the museum's Communication Manager after the film. She was fascinated with us as bloggers (I went along with L J Rich & Anna Mondo - from Team Angel fast catching up with my Team Bank - in the recent L T Museum Flickr Scavenger Hunt) and wanted to learn more about why we did it. But for me it was great to hear about their plans for more events, more story telling (including some Carry On stars - can't wait), more travellers from the past in character, and another outing of the 1938 Art Deco Tube in August.

1938 Art Deco Tour - Riding in the Sunshine Mrs Dilys Muybridge - 1930's Metro-land Housewife - LT Museum

Of course if you like, you can still salivate over the old trains, Tube carriages, buses, horse & carts, old cabs etc etc. The iconic fonts, designs, posters, maps and signs are all there too - displayed really creatively as we found on our first Flickr Scavenger Hunt there. But I do love the human part of the museum, the cocktails, the chunky chips and the connecting with people from the past.

; Posted by annie mole Saturday, July 19, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE