scribbles tagged ‘tube’

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 4.7

3 bits of fabulous banter »

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

what do you think of that »

follow the breadcrumbs

Sunday, January 29th, 2012 | tags: , , , ,  |

Urgent CareWendy: Which ward is he in?

Hospital receptionist (HR):ACCU

Wendy: Does ACCU mean something?

HR: Adult Critical Care Unit

Wendy: So I should come to the hospital and ask for the ACCU?


Wendy: Does 4F mean something?

HR: Floor 4

Wendy: OK, I think I can remember that, any other advice for a visitor?

HR: follow the signs for ‘Lift Core 5’

Wendy: Does lift core 5 mean…


The signage at the hospital was new and thorough. I found this hospital sign interesting because it has an ecclectic structure which makes scan-reading it quickly more difficult. If it had a clear structure I could anticipate the approximate locations of the labels that I am looking for – find them quickly

My guess is that the

  • top item is arranged by ‘importance’ – put there to be found quickly, including the sticky-tape apparant afterthought of the ‘Urgent Care Centre’
  • the next 2 items are arranged by ‘Frequency of use’ – most people want to get out and use the underground at the end of their stay or visit.
  • Below the top items they are arranged alphabetically, with the exception of the sticky-taped “GP out of Hours” which may have originally been something else.  The main problem with Alphabetically ordered lists is that the reader has to know the name of what they are looking for. For example, that “Day Unit” comes before “Haemetology” and “Reception” comes after “Transport”

The sticky-tape was really facinating, I wanted to peel it off to find out what’s underneath the “GP out of hours”. I resisted the temptation and followed the trail to lift core 5…

follow the breadcrumbs
rate wendys scribble

5 bits of fabulous banter »

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
1 vote rating 5

2 bits of fabulous banter »