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

Fish on the Underground - Tube Photo of the Week

Or let sleeping sharks lie

Sleeping with the sharks taken by Chris Meade & Hattie Coppard

Great photo taken by Chris Meade & Hattie Coppard at Experimental Play.

At least I think it's a shark and not a giant version of Nemo.

Speaking of sharks and whales or large fish on the London Underground, there have been some new Animals on the Underground spotted.

You might remember when the brill company Animalsontheunderground which looked for animals "found" in the Tube map had some fishy underwear as part of its merchandise. Sadly the elephant trunks and fishy knickers have gone, but the site still has T-shirts with the found animals on them.

However some time ago I was alerted to some new animals found in the London Undeground map. My favourites are the mouse, as you get a number of these really on the Underground:

And the platypus - just because I like its little eyes

If anyone wants to stare at the Tube map for several hours to discover others, feel free. It's a similar pastime to playing Magic Eye with the upholstery or moquette on Tube seats but at least they make for better T-shirts.

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, September 30, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Monday, September 29, 2008

Shepherd's Bush Tube stations opening soon

We're getting nearer and nearer to the date when the brand new Shepherd's Bush Market London Underground station on the Hammersmith & City Line will complete its transformation and Shepherd's Bush on the Central Line re-opens. And the whole
Westfield Shopping Centre opening with the ramifications for the other new Tube & Overground stations around Wood Lane, White City & Shepherd's Bush.

Many people (including lots of BBC folk who work at BBC Television Centre in White City) have been taking photos of the ongoing developments around there. My favourites include an "ancient" advert about phone lines on the Tube, finally being replaced at White City. This was spotted by James1am

Ad at White City by James1am

I also love Shepherd's Bush station on the Hammersmith & City Line and it's gradual transformation into Shepherd's Bush Market station.

Shepherd's Bush Market Tube Station Signage by Caleb

Shepherd's Bush Market Tube Station Signage by Caleb

The last two pictures taken on Friday by Caleb come via the London Reconnections blog. The comments about the blued out space where "Market" will eventually go, are quite fun. Jon said: "I saw some of these signs at the weekend and I now think it should be known forever more as Shepherd's Bush space Station".

Caleb made the interesting point "This is going to be a decent pub quiz question, for a little while at least. This is the only Tube station with 'Market' in the name right?"

There's a lot of discussion on that blog as to when the new stations will open. The BBC reported that Shepherd's Bush Overground station was due for opening on the 29th September 2008. Has it opened? Shepherd's Bush on the Central Line is supposed to re-open on the 5th October 2008 and the brand new Wood Lane station on 12th October 2008.

It's all a case of wait and see as Transport for London themselves aren't committing to any dates as the multi million pound partnership is "due for completion in October and November 2008".

; Posted by annie mole Monday, September 29, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Web Developers & The Tube - Bar Camp London 5

I've just finished my first ever BarCamp this weekend and even though I'm not a developer, managed to survive it.
BarCampLondon5 was held at eBay's UK head office in Richmond and was a weekend of great sessions by developers, geeks, techies and non techies (like myself) who all shared ideas, hacks, web apps, stories & photos in a free "un conference" event & overnight camp.

Yahoo! API maps by CathyMa

The event was sponsored by companies including the Yahoo! Developer Network (loving their API map above & just hope London Underground don't sue them!), MOO.com, Times Online, Microsoft and MyMuseli.

The atmosphere was really friendly & encouraging and even though I thought I wouldn't understand a word of what was being said, by the end of the Saturday I had put my name on the board to run a session on Sunday afternoon.

Barcamplondon5 Sessions Board

Thanks to the people who turned up to see it and if anyone wants to see the slides (about blogging breakdown and how to avoid it) let me know. I'm planning on doing the whole thing again next Saturday at Social Media Camp & will put the link to the slides up after that.

There were some very interesting sessions at BarCampLondon5, including a great one by Tom Whitwell from the Times Online about headlines and what makes people click

Barcamplondon5 Times OnIine Session - 3

I sometimes spend a while deciding what headline to give a blog post and usually do write it first, although at times I can absolutely agonise over what it should be. Looks like the agonising is actually worth it.

Salim from thelondonpaper also gave an enlightening talk about what thelondonpaper are planning for its website and how they will measure its success. Apparently 10% of Londoners do have a preference for their free papers. Also some spontaneous research they carried out on the Tube yielded a pretty different response to the more structured survey they ran about website usage.

Andy Budd ran a fascinating session - Architecting Human Behaviour - on Sunday morning about architecture and how its planning can really effect how people behave, particularly in public "third spaces" which are neither work or home. Although he didn't mention station architecture or planning, I'm sure a lot more thought is going into Tube station design now. Just a shame that some of the hideous interchanges at King's Cross station didn't have a bit more planning behind them.

You can follow my random twitterings throughout the weekend on Twitter and a few photos from the BarCampLondon5 are here.

Box woman 1 MOO Stickers at Twestival

I also met some more people there who'd been at Thursday's Twestival, which was a party / charity Harvest Festival where you could've met some of the faces behind the avatars on Twitter. Many people who comment on & read this blog were there (nice to meet you all) and my photos from Twestival are here.

; Posted by annie mole Monday, September 29, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Friday, September 26, 2008

Barack Obama on the Tube

This teaser campaign on the Tube is driving loads of people mad.
Jake Stride spotted the following poster at Bank London Underground station and wondered what it was for:

photo by Jake Stride

"Barack outside number 10. No company brand or anything, what's it about?"

Suw Charman over at Flickr has been having the same discussion and you might have seen some of the other pictures in the apparently random set - including a golden football, a chubby kid in swimming trunks, a woman doing yoga (pictured below), the CERN Large Hadron Collider and David Cameron walking past a statue of Winston Churchill.

photo by Roo Reynolds

I wonder the same. I'm sure there'll be some follow up in a few days time, otherwise it's all very puzzling, yet as a teaser campaign it's certainly ... errr .. teasing.

If you've any idea how they are all linked put us out of our misery. Please!

; Posted by annie mole Friday, September 26, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Air Conditioned Tube Carriages "unveiled"

Later on today at Euston, Boris Johnson will launch some air conditioned carriages on the London Underground. Well they won't actually be working (not like we need them in late September anyway) and we won't be getting them for a few more years either. And they're not on all lines. Just the Metropolitan Line from 2010 and the Circle, District and Hammersmith & City Line trains from 2011.

Boris gives air conditioned Tube thumbs up

I know that there are supposedly brilliant reasons as to why it's difficult to have air conditioning on the Tube, and that in spite of six figure rewards and competitions and searches for an Operations Manager to cool the Tube at TfL, I still can't understand why we haven't got it on all lines now & not by 2011 on just a few lines.

When I was in New York I sat in some unbelievably cool carriages on their subway, and yes, I know ours is older, but it's not that much older. Even in the early part of the 20th century New York's subway had fans in the carriages (see photos from my New York Transit Museum trip below)

BRT Carriage Fans

Overhead Fans

I seriously don't remember seeing any fans in old carriages in our London Transport Museum. Did we ever have them? Or was there some sort of health & safety reason for us not having them?

Oh well, look forward to the carriages when we eventually get them in three years time.

Update - For those who like such things a mock up of the new trains will be on display at Euston Square Gardens for everyone to view from Saturday 26 September to Thursday 2 October. "Passengers will benefit from air conditioning, walk-through carriages, CCTV coverage in each carriage and improved accessibility." See the press release from the GLA for more & Londonist have got some picture of Boris "admiring the spacious interiors of the new carriages".

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, September 25, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Good or Bad ad placement at Stockwell?

Depending on how you look at it, this is either genius ad placement at Stockwell or pretty unfortunate.

Righteous Kill Ad at Stockwell taken by coconinoco

As the inquest into the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes at Stockwell London Underground Station continues, leading to prosecution of the Met Police under the health & safety legislation, some eagle eyed person took the photo above. Thanks to David R for forwarding me the photo and to Coconino who identified himself as the person who took it.

The headline for the ad for De Niro & Pacino's new film Righteous Kill says "There's nothing wrong with a little shooting as long as the right people get shot".

Update - The Guardian have just picked up this photo & post and made the following point - "Unfortunate juxtapositions are an inevitable hazard of billboard advertising. A colleague reminds me that a poster for The Descent was on the side of the bus that blew up on 7/7. Posters for the Arnie film Collateral Damage were hastily removed on 12th September 2001. Last night on Comedy Connections' Rising Damp special you saw a horribly apt ad for the 1984 production of Joe Orton's undertaker comedy Loot, which Leonard Rossiter was starring in when he died backstage.

Can you think of any more? And what is it that's interesting here, exactly? Do we just like a morbid laugh? Or does this sort of thing jolt you into feeling queasy about entertainment that treats death glibly?

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, September 24, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Monday, September 22, 2008

New York Transit Museum - Day 9 in New York

For my penultimate full day in New York, I decided to make the trip over to Brooklyn to
New York's Transit Museum. This was going to be quite interesting as the lovely staff at the London Transport Museum have been really great & supportive to me & the blog. Not only have they done a great job with the Museum itself (£22 million pounds was a lot for the refurbishment - but I believe it was money well spent), but they're really reaching out to people online with Flickr scavenger hunts, Facebook groups and invites to bloggers for launch events.

Could the Transit Museum in New York live up to this?

New York Transit Museum

It was a great idea to use a real subway station as the basis of the Museum as it meant that display of subways at at the lower level gave you a real feel of what the old carriages looked like. So rather then the walking back through time or taking an lift back in time at London's you get to walk through carriages and you can clearly see the change from the padded seats and warm feeling, to the much more cleaner, brighter yet uncomfortable feel of the modern carriages.

Older Carriages with padded seats Getting more modern

So there's certainly lots of rolling stock for transport enthusiasts to pore over, however, I prefer the more human side of underground systems, and had a field day looking at the rules and regulations and the old ads in all of the carriages.

Spitting on the subway appeared to be a major problem, as did meddling:

Spitting and Meddling is Unlawful

Spitting could get you a $500 fine, a year in prison or both!

There were also some escalator rules about the use of canes and umbrellas

Old Escalator Rules

The Subway Sun (not like our super soaraway Sun newspaper) had a load of rules or helpful advice on how to behave well on the subway. Ranging from keeping kids on your laps to staying away from kids if you had a cold.

Subway Sun Rules for Children

Subway Sun - War on Germs

In the 1950's there were a series of Subway contests to find Miss Subway. It might seem a little weird but I've got some old London Underground in house magazines from the 50's and 60's which also ran beauty contests for London Transport staff

Meet Miss Subways

However, these Miss Subway contenders appeared to be commuters rather than staff and the contest to find the "loveliest subway riders" was also televised - blimey.

Who will be Miss Subways

Some of the in car adverts were really typical of their time but also showed some cultural differences between the UK & the US - low alcohol content in beer and high salt usage - maybe it's just me, but I've noticed a lot of people in the US automatically putting salt on food without tasting it first.

Rheingold Beer now Lawful

Soup without Oysterettes

There's more old in carriage ads in my full Flickr set for the Transit Museum - including a brill one for a $5 Brownie camera "almost a Kodak" & a some "paid political advertising" about sweeping the Communists out of the Government.

The Recording Room carried a display of publicity shots and film posters where the New York subway had appeared in US movies. These went back to silent picture days, some 1950's gang / crime style films, Disney's Fantasia - right up to the Taking of Pelham One Two Three, Saturday Night Fever (with John Travolta in a graffiti'ed carriage) to Subway Stories

Harold Lloyd in Speedy 1920's movie

Disney on the Subway - From Fantasia

Poster for the Incident movie Poster for The Taking of Pelham One Two Three

John Travolta - Saturday Night Fever - Pre Graffiti Crackdown

However, one of the guys who works at the Museum said that they filmed the Saturday Night Fever shots at the museum itself. When I chatted with him and another museum towards the end of my afternoon there, they said that the authorities in New York have spent so much time cracking down on graffiti that they didn't even want to put a graffiti'ed carriage in as a historical piece.

Timothy & Mickey - New York Transit Museum Staff

There is a poster showing how the subway went through a decline in the 1970's and cites the zero tolerance and crackdown on graffiti by 1989 as a "visible symbol" of the subway's renewal.

To close I wanted to show some of New York's posters promoting journeys you can make on the subway and areas that are easily reached by it. It's New York's equivalent of some of our Art on the Underground posters

Subway Riders Poster

Night Game - New York Transit Museum Poster

The two above were my favourites as they seem to borrow from Impressionism (the 2nd one is very Van Gogh) and that Russian Industrial look (don't know the name of it).

So how did it measure up to London's Transport Museum. Yet again with New York & London, similar yet really different. London's really beats this hands down, but then New York's hasn't had £22 million refit. London's is about four times the size of New York's and has a lot more interactivity with the exhibits.

New York's was very cheap though - only $5 entry and yet it was really, really quiet for a Saturday afternoon. It costs £10 to get into the London Transport Museum and it's always been teeming with people when I've been there. The shop in New York was also much smaller, but had lots of well priced gifts. My stash is below:

Shopping from New York Transit Museum

I had a great afternoon there though and took a shed load of photos, you can see the full set here. There's not a lot of the trains themselves and none of the buses and trams that were also on display, but I hope it'll give you a good feel of the museum, which was certainly very good value for the five bucks entry fee!

; Posted by annie mole Monday, September 22, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Friday, September 19, 2008

'Fantasy Piccadilly Line' talk - free tickets up for grabs

London Transport Museum are holding a talk by artist Nils Norman on the 23rd September at 6.30pm. He will be discussing his public commissions and poster artworks, including 'Ideal City' and 'Fantasy Piccadilly Line' for Piccadilly Underground station and Piccadilly Line trains. "Norman's work considers alternative urban politics through a mix of art, activism and dark humour."

Fantasy Pic Line by Lap Fung Chan

More recently Nils devised a media campaign to encourage people to explore Liverpool's parks and has put together a series of posters for bus shelters in Portsmouth. He's currently working on a school playground project for the new Golden Lane Campus in East London.

The Museum have offered me a few tickets for any blogger who fancies going along. Please send me an email or leave a comment below with your blog if you are interested. Full details are here.

PS don't forget to vote for your favourite pictures for the Innocent Village Fete, me, Anna & Richard are in with a chance of winning a year's supply of smoothies!

; Posted by annie mole Friday, September 19, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

New York Subway Fashion Victims

It's Friday and time for the SFV's - that's Subway Fashion Victims. As I'm in New York it's a look at commuters on the Subway, rather than the Tube or London Underground who have "taken a style and made it their own"!

As I said at a speaking thing I did on blogging for
Fishburn Hedges about two weeks ago, this is a section that people either love or hate, there seems to be no mid ground with the Fashion Victims. Alex Pearmain from the agency told me that I'd created a mood of paranoia in their office after my talk as the women were all scared they'd appear on here one week. One lady who lives at Turnham Green was particularly worried, as it's a Tube station I pass through every day!!

Anyway, I had to be a bit more careful with the SFV's. After all I was this strange Brit in the Big Apple, who still doesn't really know the Subway rules and I imagine that "taking pictures of people in slightly dodgy outfits on the Subway" isn't too high up on the list for how to make friends and influence people out here. But in the interests of people who love this section and have actually been emailing me to say they can't wait to see the New York Subway Fashion Victims - here goes:

Trust Me I'm Irish

It's still T Shirt weather in New York and in the main T-shirts and jeans seems to be what the vast majority of folks on the trains are wearing. This one wasn't taken on the subway but at New Rochelle station, where I'm staying (no, I'm not staying at the station - you know what I mean).

"Trust Me I'm Irish" at New Rochelle

He was heading into New York City though, so it counts. I particularly liked how he's got all the "green thang, going on". Green shamrock, green trackie bottoms and green bag. Yep, you're doing the "I'm proud of my Irish roots" with gusto.

Rules to this game T-Shirt

Boarding Train at New Rochelle

I mentioned not knowing the subway rules yet and I like the guy with the black T-shirt. He's doing the baggy low slung jeans thing, but as he's a little on the larger side he's covered up his non-skinny "ass" with a long T-shirt with a slogan on the base.

Chucks on the Subway

It almost wouldn't be a fashion victim post without some Converses. Thanks to doing these posts I'm actually a massive Cons convert and am probably going to head off to Famous Footwear or somewhere similar to see if I can bag some bargains.

Converse All Stars on the New York Subway

Converses and Nikes seemed to be the most common Subway footwear and I like how this guy's mixing them with some nicely worn & frayed combat looking shorts.

Super baggy & Super long shorts

Speaking of shorts - here's some that don't work:

Yankees Socks - New York Metro Escalator

It's that extra long extra baggy plaid shorts look which I know is really common in the US and is sadly making its way over to the UK too. I just think it makes guys look like oversized toddlers.

The Norman Rockwell Americana Look

Finally, I had to capture this old guy because he had such a mix of looks, it was great. It was sort of God Bless America, meets Uggs, meets American Gothic meets Kmart.

USA Fashion on New York Subway

The guy was in his late sixties I reckon, yet the bag and the Uggs are straight up millenial, so he's doing his best to keep bang up to date. Bless him. He rocked.

That's it for now for the "victims" in New York. Weirdly Alberto from Unltdworld who's over from the UK told me at Wine 2.0 last night that he saw one my fashion victim pictures on display on a Flickr stream of pictures in a cafe in New York City. It was of one of my favourite victims Elvis the pug dog - my first canine fashion victim:

Elvis the Canine Tube Fashion Victim

I'm soooo pleased that the little fellow has made it over here.

Until next time the previous fashion victim post is here and the complete picture gallery of all the TFV's can be seen on the following Flickr set. Plus a few pictures from Wine 2.0 at Webster Hall in New York City (will blog about this later) & Grand Central "No sitting rule" being broken!

; Posted by annie mole Friday, September 19, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Rush Hour on the New York Subway

You've had a bit of a rose-tinted "tourist" view of the subway from me so far, well apart from the
Panther / Sloth guy and his mate, but yesterday I used it for the first time in the rush hour.

That's where it was much more similar to the London Underground. It was really crowded, really hot, rushed, people were scowling and grumbling at others with luggage on the escalators. You couldn't really stand around like a dork looking at maps or taking pictures of buskers without get bumped into from behind. Fortunately when I managed to get onto a train, there was a kind of quiet stillness & relief that you were going somewhere and not caught up in the melee of the platform transfers.

Busker in the Rush Hour - New York subway

I found myself staring at the woman with the worry beads below, as her calming influence was transferring over to me, and I started to feel a bit less hot & bothered.

Worry Beads on New York Subway Busy Rush Hour Train - New York Subway

It didn't last too long though as I made my way to another interchange and joined yet another slow moving, long and narrow queue for the escalators

Rush Hour Commuters - New York Subway

However, it was all quite orderly & it's not just us Brits who queue well for things. We might be professional queue'ers but the Manhattanites would give us a run for our money. They only got really impatient with people carrying massive luggage and according the rules below, it's actually an "offence to carry bulky items likely to cause inconvenience or a hazard to yourself and others".

New York Subway Rules

New York subway drivers all seem to wear ear protectors to protect them from the noise down there. Maybe just seeing them wearing them, made me think that that their trains appeared much noiser than our Tubes, although as yet, I've not seen any commuters with the massive noise cancelling headphones on that are quite common in London.

New York Subway Commuters New York Subway Driver

Coming home was much calmer and I felt a bit like the sleeping dog in the bag below, wishing that someone would carry me.

Sleepy Dog in New York Subway

Almost by accident though I saw some amazing sculptures on the platform at 14th Street. I just happened to move a little further down and out of the corner of my eye saw some bronze little figures on the platform floor

Alligator eating Money Sculpture 14th Street - New York Subway

Money Sculptures 14th Street at New York Subway

There were a whole range of them and they were featured little money characters, either being eaten by alligators coming out of New York's sewer or they just hung around watching the trains.

There were some more great mosaics around with a watery theme with quotes from James Joyce, Ovid and err... Mother Goose

Nature Must Not Win This Game - New York Subway

Watery Mosaic - New York Subway

Finally, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of night time work that was going on around travellers. The air reeked of bleach & cleaning fluids and there was was loads of spraying, scrubbing and general tidying up at about 11.45pm

Night Time Contractors on New York Subway Phone on Time Square Subway Station

The photo on the right shows a woman at a public pay phone, which was also quite novel as in London public pay phones at platform level seemed to have disappeared years ago, well at least I don't remember having seen one underground for ages.

There a more pictures of the sculptures, mosaics and other commuters on my set from Day 5 on in New York and some pictures of the Statue of Liberty, Rockefeller Center, Staten Island Ferry and Greenwich Village in my set from Days 3/4 in New York.

New York Subway stuff - Museum of Modern Art, New York

I'm going to try to pop into their Transport Museum over the next few days as there were some cool NYC Subway badges and bags in the Museum of Modern Art shop. But I imagine there will be a larger selection in the Transport Museum itself. Now it's time for some lunch with the UK Digital Mission guys & gals at the Web 2.0 Expo which I'm visiting while I'm here.

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, September 18, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE