scribbles tagged ‘Paddington’

name calling

Monday, July 15th, 2013 | tags: ,  |

LeavingI’ve been called many things since 1991, graduating as Dr. Wendy:

  • Noun: Researcher, Lecturer, Scientist, Engineer, Architect
  • Modifier: Assistant, Associate, Senior, Higher, Lead

I’ve recently been offered a new noun and modifier. That makes a six-pack for each set. I’m fit!



Apart from the fact that I am leaving my job of the last 4 years, can you guess what makes this leaving card a most appropriate choice?


name calling
4 votes rating 4.5

4 bits of fabulous banter »

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
3 votes rating 5

6 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 4.7

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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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who’s on the train today?

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012 | tags: , , ,  |

Circle line 5.15pm Westbourne ParkSometimes I get to ride on the trains. It’s expensive and fascinating. I like to guess who the other passengers are and why they are there. To wonder why other people aren’t there. Sometimes I get to talk to Robots or passengers who aren’t indulged in the social norm of trying to maintain their privacy in this very public space

On this 5.15pm midweek circle line train approaching Paddington from the west, there was:

  • 1 person (other than me) who looked like a woman – where are the other women?
  • 1 person (other than me) who looked over 45 years – where are the 50+ people?
  • 1 person (other than me) wearing brightly coloured clothes – where are the people who adore wearing brightly coloured clothes?
  • 1 person (other than me) standing-up
  • 1 person who looks under 18 years – where are the other children?
  • 1 person looks non-caucasian
  • no-one (other than me) wearing a hat

On this train I was definitiely a ‘different’ passenger….


who’s on the train today?
1 vote rating 4

8 bits of fabulous banter »

Our GPS doesn’t work down here

Monday, February 6th, 2012 | tags: , , , ,  |

Robots on the tubeA weekend trip on the London Underground (Tube) is definitiely a different experience from midweek commuter journeys. Much nicer. The travellers are wearing their weekend clothes, more colourful and varied than the business black and gray

As this circle line (yellow branding) train pulled into Paddington I could see most of the carriages were tightly packed with travellers – except one. I made my way to the half-empty carriage where I met these two Robots. Instant smiles all around. They were discussing how they didn’t know where they were because their GPS wasn’t working…

can I take your photograph?

After I’d photographed them the carriage turned into a paparazzi-style frenzy. It seemed that everyone in the carriage had a camera phone and they all wanted a picture, the best picture. They got out of their seats and vied fopositions to get the best shot. They gave the robots instructions on how to poise

point at the map, up a bit, down a bit, that’s it!”

We helped the robots to read the map so they knew where to get off the train. One man who couldn’t speak English helped the robots keep their arm-protection from falling off.

It was a wonderful experience of strangers laughing and helping each other. I like the tube at the weekend



Our GPS doesn’t work down here
1 vote rating 5

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Peak travel times are not defined by times

Saturday, October 15th, 2011 | tags: , , , , ,  |

The Italian tourist on Paddington station asked me

“what times are off-peak travel times?”

Gradually realising the sysem craziness I reply

“That depends which direction you are travelling, peak time applies to trains into London in the morning and out of London in the evening, so if you are travelling into London in the evening – there is no peak time

but I’m not sure”

Then I asked my Londoner friend for clarification

“Are there peak time restrictions on the tube?”

My friend didn’t know about ‘peak times’ so we assumed that tube trains within London didn’t have travel restrictions based on time of travel. How could this Italian distinguish between tube trains and other trains when they use the same stations?  Should we say ‘you can travel on the grubby looking trains  that are travelling around London, sort of, at any time”?  I felt daunted. Such a simple question, such a complex answer.

Then, to make matters worse, I remembered that at peak times you can catch some trains which are not covered by the peak time travel restrictions, so added

“You can travel at peak time with a non-peak time ticket on some trains, normally the slower trains, but some of the fast trains”

The Italian looked suitably baffled. We hadn’t really helped her. I had a passing thought of Franz Kafka, imagining him stuck on a train station trying to get out of London at 5pm.  No matter how good your grasp of the English language, this explanation, this system is

  • fundamentally confusing
  • really difficult to remember even if you can work it out in the first place.

it’s not designed to make ticket purchase and use easy, its evolved to satisfy diverse organisations that lack customer perspective. The best pracitcal suggestion that we could give the Italian was

“Find the train you want to travel on and ask one of the rail staff if it works, and what’s their best suggestion,  it’s the only way to be sure”

When I asked a train station employee at Reading main station he whipped out a PAPER leaflet that listed trains that travel at peak times but accept off-peak time tickets. This work-around suggest that the service providers recognise the problem. The cute, archaic, work-around made me smile. But why not make it easier for the traveller in the first place (or time)!

Currently peak travel times are defined by a mixture of train

  • time
  • service provider (not applied on the tube)
  • direction (relative to London, and maybe other citiies?)
  • train speed (sometimes)

I know what name I’d like to give the ticket pricing and travel system, but that’s unpublishable …..

Your’s huiffily, wendy x

PS here are the peak travel time trains from Paddington that accept off-peak time tickets:

peak time travel allowed with off-peak tickets

Peak travel times are not defined by times
1 vote rating 5

1 wonderful musing »

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
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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 »

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 »

old lady’s shoes

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009 | tags: , , , , ,  |

Words of wisdom from  an almost stranger*.  in this case a girl on the commuter  train to London Paddington:

don’t wear Ecco shoes,   they’ll  make you look like a really boring  old person

Ecco SandalsI would have followed this advice


Ooops!   it’s toooooo late

I picked up these little green dudes in a sale,   as preparation for my upcoming HOLIDAY in CAIRO.   They have the phrase ‘pat pending’ on the sole.   Just like the wacky races character.   I love that!   The garish green is pretty darn cool too,   for a wrinkly, if this is what boring old people wear,   then so be it.

* Past tips provided by Alan the hairdresser.   Lucia the hairdresser, an anonymous  manicurist, a Jackson’s sales assistant, a bus stop philanthropist, a mini salesman, Windows Network Diagnostics, Flat Eric  and Reading Police.
old lady’s shoes
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surfing. eyes closed

Friday, August 14th, 2009 | tags: , , , ,  |

Jumping onto a crowded rush hour Paddington train  I slump into the one remaining  isle seat.    Resting my brow against the seat infront. Breathing slowly, eyes shut,  shut-out the crowded world.

Boy in window seat (BIWS):   are you alright?

Wendy:   yes,  I’m alright,  thankyou for asking, you have a kind heart

BIWS: bad day at work?

Wendy:   time of the month, normal pain, nothing to worry about I’ll just close my eyes and drift away

I surf the pain to  some other consciousness, completely missing the train journey…. ….and almost missing my stop…  

Car behind light-blasts my wing mirror

At 16yrs, the first time the pain stole my consciousness  was from  a chemist queue.  I clutched a packet of unpurchased  pain killers.    My unconsciousnes  chose to examine the shop floor.   A  kindly woman carried me to the local Health Centre.   I woke in her arms and gifted her the contents of my stomach.  

At the health centre I begged the Doctor for pain killers.    He said pain killers were not warranted  because I’d just puke them up.  That the pain was natural.    He prescribed lying on my back until I felt able to walk.   Then I should  go home.  

With his words the pain merged perfectly with incredulity.   Not offered a glass of water to swill the bile from my mouth.   I could taste the incredulity.    Stung by the  indifference  of  professional caring staff.   As soon as I could I slid from the trolley and stumbled out of the Health Centre.   To the chemist shop.   The kind lady  who’d carried me had gone.    No-one knew her name.   No-one to thank.  

Thank you kind lady.

Since that day I’ve learned to accept, immerse, and surf the experience to unanticipated, inarticulable ways and places.   PMT and Cheese. Mmmmmmmm…

surfing. eyes closed
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Readings in Reading

Friday, December 28th, 2007 | tags: , , , , , , , ,  |

Early on a chilly Friday evening afore Christmas Mr. Hegley and longtime associate Mr. Bailey jumped on a train from London Paddington to Reading Central.     Once in Reading they sought out the South Street arts centre and there joined the poets cafe.   The cafe was hosted by AFH who skillfully introduced us to the intricacies of the concept of first half,   second half and interval.   He cunningly avoided  reference to the powerful football analogy that subsequently snuck its way into several of Mr. Hegley’s poems including his opener which described the emotional ebb and flow of  Luton town beating Reading  town.   Both almost cities missed gaining city status in the Millenium celebrations  when the Queen granted 3 towns city status.John’s delivery was perfectly complimented by his companion, Andrew’s, acting skills.   Neither black bird, woman,   nor alien were beyond Andrews talented delivery.

At the poets cafe audience are also invited to be performers,   slips of paper, published and unpublished books proped newcomers and professionals alike while sharing their work about ghosts, parties, typewriters, family, and TV shows.     I slouched at the back with a pint of John Smith’s rapidly disappearing from my  plastic glass wondering if I should bring a piece of paper and a little pluck  to the second half…   …after the interval…   …of the next meeting.

Readings in Reading
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click click click

Sunday, January 1st, 2006 | tags: ,  |

…whisper…     …whisper…   …whisper…


Warning:   stilettos are 7 times too NOISY for sparsely populated art galleries with hard wood floors like  Frye’s art museum.   I can confirm that American art lovers  can produce ‘disapproving looks’ of Paddington bear proportions.

click click click
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