scribbles tagged ‘commute’


Wednesday, January 9th, 2013 | tags: , ,  |

antiqueTaking notes with a basic blue BIC Biro on a pad of A4 paper.

Using post-its notes as individually labeled bookmarks on pages in a binder.


Demonstrating his skills applying the antique technologies of my youth.

Not a banker.



1 vote rating 3

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magic kilt

Saturday, November 17th, 2012 | tags: , , , , , ,  |

Walking along a crowded platform on Paddington station, suddenly an arm wrapped around a shoulder and a Scottish accent welcomed me. My friend had seen my Royal Stewart tartan through the crowds and recognised my gait. How lovely that the kilt could help bring us together in this otherwise unfriendly milieu.

Later, standing on a tube train, a stranger smiled at me and invited me to take an empty seat they had rights to by proximity. This has never happened before during my London commutes. Later again, a young man invited me to pass in front of him to leave the train rather than taking my natural place in the rambling crush.

I love all 9 yards of my kilt, it helps people see me.

It inspires kindness from strangers.

It’s magic.

magic kilt
2 votes rating 5

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fate all at tea

Sunday, November 11th, 2012 | tags: , , ,  |

FatalityTrains are running 30 minutes late due to a fatality on the line.

The other commuters hasten their weaving around each other as-if the delay urgencifies their platform dash.

As a nation we give 2 minutes still, silence,  to the people who lost their lives in wars. Fatalities, deaths. Like this one they have an unattributed cause – Suicide or accident?

Was this fatality a person who’s life was

  • so very painful that the thought of being smashed-into by a speeding train was a release from the pain of their life.  Suicide.
  • ended unexpectedly. did they slip and fall? Accident.

I watch the faces of the commuters pushing me aside in their platform rush. Coats rustling and mumbling.

I’m alone in my stillness.  Taking a moments silence to mourn the fatality, person’s death,  is not part of the behavioural script ‘what we do’ for commuters and station staff.

It seems like it should be a time when we should be hugging each other, wiping away each others tears, expressing our helplessness and then slowly moving on. I hug myself, wipe away a tear and turn towards the platforms.

That evening I tried to find out about the 2 people who’d died in train fatalities that day. The news reported the delays to the trains, the things that affected most people’s everyday lives. Nothing about the people who died, not even a name. Sending condolences to strangers isn’t a part of the what we do nowadays. Kay’s recent blog post had a quote from John Donne which seemed most apt:

No man is an iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee….”

fate all at tea
4 votes rating 4.75

4 bits of fabulous banter »

view from the floor of commuter carriage D

Friday, October 26th, 2012 | tags: , , , ,  |

commutersThe seats next to us are full of men in suits, young men and old men. Men with eyes locked on their kindles. From our perch on the carriage floor we can see body-fat overflowing their shirt collars while they focus on their devices.

Maybe they are doing something very valuable. They work for Oxfam, Cancer Research, the NHS or something where the luxury of a seat on an unfeasibly busy First Great Western (FGW) train service from London Paddington is a just reward.

Alas, I can’t convince myself that all the seated people are contributing to something socially valuable.

Elbowing and shoving to get seats is what happens at commuter time. I normally stand back and board the train last or let the flow carry me forward.  Unsuprisingly, I rarely get a seat. On this tiring day I had chosen to sit. Chosen the carriage isle floor. I used the handle on the side of a seat to gently lower myself. The man in the behandled seat ‘tutted’ without turning his head towards me. A coincidence?

The beautiful boy with the ginger beard watched me, then followed my lead. I wonder what he was thinking as he scrutinised the seated ‘people-who-never-look-at-those-around-them’.  He raised my spirits because he had the courage to see the people around him, chose to steps away from conformity, and harassed noone to get a place on the carriage floor.

I don’t think he’s a banker. I considered proposing.

view from the floor of commuter carriage D
3 votes rating 4.67

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data retention policy

Sunday, May 20th, 2012 | tags: , , ,  |

On a Friday evening commuter train riding home from Paddington toward Reading town I watch the scenery roll past while listening to the American in the seat behnd me talk on the phone about the data retention policies of an international organisation

I’m drowned in the chatter of half-conversations around me. Everyone is travelling alone, most people are talking to someone on the phone.

A lady two rows back is having an arguement about her ex-husband and her medication. I suspect that nearly everyone in the carriage heard, no-one comments, it’s not our business.

Private in public, privates on parade…

data retention policy
1 vote rating 4

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when there’s no audience in the room – I’m an extrovert

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012 | tags: , , , , , ,  |

Circle LineDuring commuter time, even in London, it is possible to be alone in public

When I stepped into this empty circle line carriage at 08.45am I felt like singing. So I did! No-one smirked, No-one shook their head, no-one asked me to stop screeching.

No-one joined in. I did’t feel embarrassed because  I’m not a talented or even accurate vocalist

When there’s no audience in the room – I’m an extrovert

I normally choose to be in a place with few, or no, people present – does that make me an introvert?

If I tell my friends that I’m an introvert they disagree.  They describe things I do that are typical of an extrovert. Things that I don’t actually enjoy or find easy. I’m an introvert who can do extrovert things when the occasion requires. Happily living alone, spending many nights in, is probably the biggest indicator that I’m an introvert at heart

when there’s no audience in the room – I’m an extrovert
3 votes rating 4.67

3 bits of fabulous banter »

trading life times

Sunday, June 26th, 2011 | tags: , , , , ,  |

Window & wrought metal workAs we walk through the underground to the main Paddington station an announcers loudly fills the tube with a mumbled message. Jan covers her ears. The announcers voice was too painful to listen to

wendy: all trains to Reading are delayed

Concourse displays specify Delay, Delay, Delay….  Hundreds of people stand with their eyes held by the display. Murmurring rises. Jan pulls out her HTC Desire

Jan: Delays until 6.30pm, why don’t they tell me that at the station, why do I have to go to the web to find out

Wendy: can you send me that link for my phone

Jan: Um, err, probably, I’ll try

Our shoulders drop. What shall we do with this time at Paddington? Vicky looks near to tears

Vicky: I’ve got a softball game at 6.45pm

Jan notices  a slow, stops everytwhere, train to Banbury, a 90 mins rather than 25mins journey to Reading. We run, weaving through bewildered would-be passsengers, to platform 11.  Crushed against the train waiting for the doors to open, carried by the crowd onto the train. Midsummer heat, commuter sweat crammed into a carriage designed for half this load. People wearing black and grey.  I manage to climb onto the luggage rack, a seat! Jan and Vicky are swept apart into the standing-only isles. Two ladies near me don’t look like commuters, one wearing a cheerful pink dress, another wearing a jade outfit. Pinky bends down and peers into the lower level luggage rack

Pinky: there’s a child under there…

Jade: It’s a BOY

Synchronised smiling, the childs boyness explains his desire to climb into the luggage rack.  I ask the colourful duo

wendy: does anyone know what caused the delays?

pinky: A suicide on the line

wendy: how do you know?

Clock on Paddington StationPinky waves her Blackberry phone, She uses the Blackberry for the whole 2hr journey, raising her eyes only to answer my occassional question then say goodbye as she leaves the train. There are few conversations on the train. Most people appear deeply engrossed in bright phone screens. From my perch I can see 4 i-phone  screens – text conversations, games, reading the news

I make several attempts to start conversations with the people near me. They moan about how inconsiderate the suicide was, interrupting rush hour travel. Then they sink back into their hypnotic phones. Suicide on the line, one person traded the life they had left to give todays commuters some unanticipated travel time

I feel the need to use this precious time, someone-elses life time, wisely

trading life times
1 vote rating 5

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Do Androids dream of electric wendys?

Monday, June 20th, 2011 | tags: , , , , , , , ,  |

While standing in the isle of a FGW commuter train from London Paddington I watched the young man seated beside me using his Blackberry phone. It looked like a mini Windows 95 – text-menu list overload! My gut reaction was yuck! The young man navigated the text-heavy grey menu with impressive speed. Clearly an experienced user.

Some of the things I love about my Android HTC desire are the way the designers have managed to

  • Use pleasing interaction styles –  I can gesture with flicks, stretches, squeezes. I can drag and drop all sorts of things across screens. I can use short and long presses on the screen to find different button behaviours. It’s fun to explore and learn
  • Create a simple, versataile information architecture. I don’t have to learn then relearn where everything is because everything is in a sensible place that’s easy to find and find again. The navigation system is clear and simple
  • Allow me to easily find and install useful, innovative, fun, relevant Apps. It’s my phone and it does what I want it to do!
  • Avoid looking like Windows 95, no battleship grey, no long text menus with uninspiring fonts
  • Include fun animations like the windscreen wiper blade running across the screen when its raining. I love how the designers have taken the notion of a dashboard design and then added a winscreen wiper extending the metaphor with humour. Fun!

My HTC Desire in the rain Hoorah for Android!

Do Androids dream of electric wendys?
1 vote rating 5

3 bits of fabulous banter »

opium fields of Didcot

Thursday, June 16th, 2011 | tags: , , ,  |

Every summer I marvel at the beauty of the Oxfordshire poppy fields. I drive through them on my work commute. Not stopping to wonder why farmers are growing poppys. Not until today.

The Daily Mail tells how the poppies are supplying the NHS with the morphine to overcome the shortage caused by the Afghanistan war. Afghanistan was a major poppy producer. NHS Morphine grown in the UK is now used for soldiers injured in Afghanistan. Now these fields remind me of Dorothy falling asleep in the flower fields before the Emerald city, Kansas, the USA.

There are some ornamental poppy’s in the wendy house garden. I had been pondering on how to use them beyond ornamentation. Poppyseed bread perhaps? Some athlete’s who failed drug tests due to trace levels of morphine have blamed poppyseed bread for the drug’s presence.

While searching for ways to use my poppys I was suprised to find very detailed instructions with photographs describing how to harvest and refine opium.  I wont be piloting these instructions. Honest, really, no really….

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thumbs away

Monday, June 6th, 2011 | tags: , , , , ,  |

First Great Western train commuteRiding the 6.45pm First Great Western fast commuter train, peak time, from London Paddington to some exotic location in the west. Standing room only, though some people are sat on the floor in the isles. I choose a place where fresh air can shift the almost rank stench of warm and stale sweat.

I lean against the toilet door.

Surrounded by besuited men with unimaginative ties and gently bulging stomachs. They all wear identically styled black leather shoes that are only differentiated by the size and degree of wear. I run my gaze up their bodies, risking eye-contact. No, not risking eye-contact because they are all immersed in their phones, silently thumbing their importance to others.

No fear of eye-contact, even though I’m the only woman present and dressed in bright-blue with flat shoes conforming to neither girliness, motherliness, nor business attire. I am invisible.

The new factory workers are crammed onto this train like chickens in a battery coup. I thank an undefined diety or two that I am not, and may never be, a conformist – no matter how painful noncomformity can be.

thumbs away
1 vote rating 3

5 bits of fabulous banter »

slight side-step

Thursday, February 17th, 2011 | tags: , ,  |

Kennet at nightA schoolboy sidesteps into a shop entranceway so that my path isn’t interrupted as I bruskly walk along King’s street towards the Reading train station. I had planned to step sideways, to let him amble on without interruption. His proactive gesture of consideration was a very warm untouch in this cold morning.

I smiled down towards my elbow, at his small uniformed frame, saying thankyou in the cheeriest voice I could muster. He didn’t look up to acknowledge my pleased surprise and gratitude. As if adults are obstacles to be manoeuvred-around, not heard.

This seemingly natural, unselfconscious, movement made my day. A million other small good things happened that day, but his slight side-step is a lasting highlight.

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1 wonderful musing »

not on the radio

Sunday, August 23rd, 2009 | tags: ,  |

Sometimes I’ll drive the hour commute home from work without noticing that the radio is off.   The conversations in my mind are so fast and rich they more than fill the silences left by the lack of radio programmes.

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EXtreme apologies

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009 | tags: , , , , ,  |


Delivering apologies is a local (English)  fine-art form.   The 90 second video above was  filmed exclusively by the Wendy House Audio-wideo Team (WHAT!)  before the arrival of Thomas (soppy SIGH).     It includes a First Great Western (FGW) Reading platform announcer delivering  ordinary apologies followed by the first of what turned out to be multiple extreme aoplogies.   Lisen for the stylish use of a contemporary xylophone solo ‘bing-bong-BING’ .   I had literally hours of fun that morning on Reading train station.

Well done FGW,   a fine example of extreme apologies.

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practicing pedestrain

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008 | tags: ,  |

Collegue:   did you catch a taxi home last night?

Wendy:   no,   I walked

Colleague:   how long did it take you?

Wendy:   35 mins,   5 of those were spent crossing the road at cemetery junction

I’m working on my commute conversations,   but I suspect they are still well-below par

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3 buses at once

Tuesday, March 4th, 2008 | tags: , , ,  |

Waiting in the cold March night air at a crowded bus stop…

Ottowan: I’ve learned so much from you British
Wendy: give an example?
Ottowan: how complaining can be used anywhere, anytime, to entertain complete strangers, like at a bus stop where you’re waiting 30 minutes for buses that are sKeduled to turn up every 8 mins
Wendy: nods, giggles, “look, there are 3 buses coming now” and 3 buses did indeed arrive together

Does this count as a good commute story?

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Popular conversational topics #1: commuting to work

Friday, February 15th, 2008 | tags: ,  |

Commuting is by far the most popular local conversational topic, everyone can weave a story about the time, the traffic, the mode of transport, and details of obstacles on the route. Bus numbers, train stations, connections, services. These conversations happen over lunch, during work breaks, on blogs, at bus-stops, train stations, in pubs, cafes and homes. The conversations are littered with amusing anecdotes and demonstrations of the commuters wyle and frustrations.

I will have to work on perfecting my currently short, colourful-engaging-anecdote-free, story of a 15 minute brisk walk to a Thames-Valley Park (TVP) free bus and notable-eventless ride. Short, easy commute stories just don’t cut the conversational-biscuit here.

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