caddyman: (Do I care?)
Ah, the joys of the 13th of the month. Thank God it’s not a Friday, too – the Karma Pixies would have exploded.

I woke up briefly around 5am and listened to the rain hammering down before congratulating myself on being warm and cosy in bed and dozed off again for a couple of hours. I got up as usual at 7 and we were out of the house just before 8.15. We had some mail to post and I was a little worried that we might have to leg it for the train because of the amount of time it took for the crossing on the High Road to actually do anything.

I needn’t have worried.

When we got to the station it was clear that not everything was as it should be. There were people stacked three or four deep at platform 3 and the 8.38 that we normally get from platform 5 had been cancelled. What we should have done was give up there and then and get the bus to Gants Hill and use the Central Line to Stratford, but there is a beguiling effect given by inaccurate but reassuring station announcements that tell you yes there are delays, but they are not that bad, despite a few cancellations.

So we waited. At any particular point, the train we were waiting for was a constant 15 minutes in the future and remained so for 45 minutes before briefly fluttering in the vortex from 19 to 12 minutes in the future, before being cancelled entirely.

As I said, we should have known better, but after you have invested a certain minimum amount of time in waiting, it becomes an investment that you are irrationally unwilling to dispense with. So we waited more.

Almost exactly an hour after we had arrived at the station a train finally crawled in with enough room for us to get on it. Ironically this was just as we had decided to cut our losses and make the journey to Gants Hill. Let’s just say that we compounded our error by getting on that train. As the doors closed we were informed of the fact that such and such a train was now 84 minutes late, sorry, and we crawled out of the station, immediately coming to a prolonged halt just a couple of hundred yards down the track. It took us another 20 minutes to get to Manor Park, about a mile down the line, but then we got to Stratford in pretty short order thereafter.

As we decamped down to the Jubilee Line platforms we heard the dulcet tones of the recorded announcer balefully informing the world that the so-and-so train was now 104 minutes late. Sorry.

Thence to Victoria with no further incident, having taken a mere 2 hours 40 minutes door to desk.

Of course, coming into the office I should have suspected something was going on: the lift lobby was rammed, but then there are lots of meetings these days as supplicants come and tell us why their grants should not be pared back to the bone or dispensed with entirely. It turns out that I was arriving just as the last of the workforce were getting back to their desks after a false fire alarm.

At least I missed that.

On gaining my desk, I find that everyone is milling around chatting. The lights are on, the air-conditioning is working and the printers are humming contentedly to themselves. The telephones are working and there is hot water at the tea point. Somehow, however, the circuit that powers the computers has blown and in our paper file-free office, none of the IT works.

For this I fretted about being late.

On the plus side, I managed to read a few pages of my history of MI:5, complete the super-fiendish sudoku in The Times, read the paper and drink several cups of coffee, before the IT suddenly came back on just a minute or two before lunch…

I can only imagine what the journey home will be like this evening. I am toying with just getting the Tube to Gants Hill and saving myself a great deal of heartache.

Oh yes. Nearly forgot: the building work around here has turned the street outside the office into a world class wind tunnel and I came *this* close to losing my fedora as I wandered around the corner.

It would have been the cherry on the cake.

Thursday, eh? Pah.

Thursday, January 10th, 2008 11:07 am
caddyman: (Default)
Well the TFL website says there is a good service operating, but my journey in this morning was barely improved on the one home last night. Even Creepy Swedish Guy (yes, I was that late) looked perturbed as he barrelled troll-like along the platform at Euston.

Today promises to be a corker. We have to achieve a number of impossible tasks before lunchtime and everyone but me has been dragged off into meetings to discuss how horrible the situation is, instead of actually doing something about it. According to my watch there are two hours left, but then deadlines seem to mean very little these days.

I am trying to understand the logic of my office computer, which when I logged on this morning, told me that my password would expire in a month and would I like to change it now? A warning is useful, but a full month? I’ll change it then, if that’s OK. It will give me time to think of something that fits our security requirements, is memorable enough for me to remember but obscure enough for no-one to guess. We used to be given randomly generated passwords from a coupon book. No-one could remember them and kept them in their desk drawers making something of a mockery of it all.

I am still unsure as to whether I shall be required to attend the lunchtime meeting with the Monster. I am hoping not and in a little display of rebellion have failed to wear a tie (I never wear a tie these days unless I am meeting members of the great unwashed or someone who thinks they’re important). I used to keep a spare one in my desk drawer, but that seems to have gone AWOL – along with all the old password slips. Maybe I should reinstate the practice.

Thursday, eh? Pah.

Thursday, January 10th, 2008 11:07 am
caddyman: (Default)
Well the TFL website says there is a good service operating, but my journey in this morning was barely improved on the one home last night. Even Creepy Swedish Guy (yes, I was that late) looked perturbed as he barrelled troll-like along the platform at Euston.

Today promises to be a corker. We have to achieve a number of impossible tasks before lunchtime and everyone but me has been dragged off into meetings to discuss how horrible the situation is, instead of actually doing something about it. According to my watch there are two hours left, but then deadlines seem to mean very little these days.

I am trying to understand the logic of my office computer, which when I logged on this morning, told me that my password would expire in a month and would I like to change it now? A warning is useful, but a full month? I’ll change it then, if that’s OK. It will give me time to think of something that fits our security requirements, is memorable enough for me to remember but obscure enough for no-one to guess. We used to be given randomly generated passwords from a coupon book. No-one could remember them and kept them in their desk drawers making something of a mockery of it all.

I am still unsure as to whether I shall be required to attend the lunchtime meeting with the Monster. I am hoping not and in a little display of rebellion have failed to wear a tie (I never wear a tie these days unless I am meeting members of the great unwashed or someone who thinks they’re important). I used to keep a spare one in my desk drawer, but that seems to have gone AWOL – along with all the old password slips. Maybe I should reinstate the practice.
caddyman: (Christmas)
I haven't decided yet (though I shall have to, shortly) whether I am going home today or very early tomorrow. I have already had a text from my sister telling me my youngest niece wants me to go home today; the emotional blackmail begins before breakfast.

I have done the early run home on Christmas Eve before and once started, it isn't so bad. You can always doze off on the train. It's a bind, but not really a problem.

Coming back to London after Christmas will be a problem. The West Coast Line is being dug up again. I think that since the Paddington rail crash in 1999, there has been about one year when the lines have not been subject to hectic maintenance. I don't think much more than a fiver in maintenance was spent on the entire network between Nationalization in 1948 and de-Nationalization in the mid 80s, and maybe a tenner in the ten years before the rail crash. People have to die before improvements are made and that's what happened. So, time to get 60 years of maintenance done in under ten years.

The upshot is that on 29th when I aim to come back to London, I have two options: I can either take the usual route from Shrewsbury to London. That will involve rail replacement buses between Birmingham International and Northampton. Total travel time over 155 miles? Three hours 55 minutes.

Or, I can take the train from Shrewsbury to Birmingham New Street, walk across the city centre to Moor Street Station and travel down to London Marylebone. Total travel time a much more acceptable two hours 46 minutes but with a 20 minute walk in the middle with bags. If I take this option, I can't get a return ticket as I shall be using a different series of rail companies. That will effectively move the fare for the holiday from an already extortionate £45 to around £90...

I hate traveling in the UK.
caddyman: (Christmas)
I haven't decided yet (though I shall have to, shortly) whether I am going home today or very early tomorrow. I have already had a text from my sister telling me my youngest niece wants me to go home today; the emotional blackmail begins before breakfast.

I have done the early run home on Christmas Eve before and once started, it isn't so bad. You can always doze off on the train. It's a bind, but not really a problem.

Coming back to London after Christmas will be a problem. The West Coast Line is being dug up again. I think that since the Paddington rail crash in 1999, there has been about one year when the lines have not been subject to hectic maintenance. I don't think much more than a fiver in maintenance was spent on the entire network between Nationalization in 1948 and de-Nationalization in the mid 80s, and maybe a tenner in the ten years before the rail crash. People have to die before improvements are made and that's what happened. So, time to get 60 years of maintenance done in under ten years.

The upshot is that on 29th when I aim to come back to London, I have two options: I can either take the usual route from Shrewsbury to London. That will involve rail replacement buses between Birmingham International and Northampton. Total travel time over 155 miles? Three hours 55 minutes.

Or, I can take the train from Shrewsbury to Birmingham New Street, walk across the city centre to Moor Street Station and travel down to London Marylebone. Total travel time a much more acceptable two hours 46 minutes but with a 20 minute walk in the middle with bags. If I take this option, I can't get a return ticket as I shall be using a different series of rail companies. That will effectively move the fare for the holiday from an already extortionate £45 to around £90...

I hate traveling in the UK.
caddyman: (Severe Delays)
Today is broken. July 5th is officially a dud; if it had been a meal I should have sent it back to the chef with the suggestion that he give up and get a job road sweeping.

So far every decision I have taken has turned around and bitten me on the arse. I would go home and hide in bed for the rest of the day, but I’m not sure that would be any better and if something went wrong then, it would probably cost me money, too.

Getting to Euston this morning was fine, but once there we were informed that there were severe delays on the Victoria Line for whatever reason, so since the trains were packed I decided that it would be better to stay on the Northern Line and change at Bank. Well that idea was marvellous right up until the point that I had no further alternatives and then it went belly up. A train broke down, I don’t know, somewhere and we spent 20 minutes in the tunnel not moving whilst that train was shifted and the others in the queue before us we moved along. By the time we got to Bank, the people affected by the earlier derailment on the Central Line were beginning to percolate through, so I felt it best to stay on and change at London Bridge. I did so just in time to witness the Jubilee Line train pull out and have to wait ten minutes for the next. People out side of London do not generally understand why this is such a big deal, after all, ten minutes… All I can say is that ten minutes hanging around underground on a packed platform towards the end of the morning rush is rather different to waiting ten minutes in cool, but bright sunny weather on the branch line at Little-Pillock-on-the-Wold, thank you very much.

Anyway, I’m here now. Hot, bothered and narked and all I have to look forward to is proof reading THAT document.
caddyman: (Severe Delays)
Today is broken. July 5th is officially a dud; if it had been a meal I should have sent it back to the chef with the suggestion that he give up and get a job road sweeping.

So far every decision I have taken has turned around and bitten me on the arse. I would go home and hide in bed for the rest of the day, but I’m not sure that would be any better and if something went wrong then, it would probably cost me money, too.

Getting to Euston this morning was fine, but once there we were informed that there were severe delays on the Victoria Line for whatever reason, so since the trains were packed I decided that it would be better to stay on the Northern Line and change at Bank. Well that idea was marvellous right up until the point that I had no further alternatives and then it went belly up. A train broke down, I don’t know, somewhere and we spent 20 minutes in the tunnel not moving whilst that train was shifted and the others in the queue before us we moved along. By the time we got to Bank, the people affected by the earlier derailment on the Central Line were beginning to percolate through, so I felt it best to stay on and change at London Bridge. I did so just in time to witness the Jubilee Line train pull out and have to wait ten minutes for the next. People out side of London do not generally understand why this is such a big deal, after all, ten minutes… All I can say is that ten minutes hanging around underground on a packed platform towards the end of the morning rush is rather different to waiting ten minutes in cool, but bright sunny weather on the branch line at Little-Pillock-on-the-Wold, thank you very much.

Anyway, I’m here now. Hot, bothered and narked and all I have to look forward to is proof reading THAT document.

Transport jollies

Wednesday, August 30th, 2006 10:59 am
caddyman: (Severe Delays)
Well I started out a few minutes late this morning and ran into the hell that is London Underground again.

The Victoria Line was suspended at just about the time I needed it, so I was forced to detour down to Embankment and pick up the (delayed) District Line. Embankment is one of the few central London stations not completely underground, so I had enough signal on my mobile to receive a text message from my boss informing me that he was on a train outside Victoria Station, unable to get in because there was no room on the platform. The passengers were getting tetchy, I understand.

I only mention this latest tale of travel woe because the Metro, the free morning paper strewn around the various stations and read by most people during their commute carried a story indicating that London has the best (though most expensive) transport system in the world.

If that is true, then I pity the rest of you.

Transport jollies

Wednesday, August 30th, 2006 10:59 am
caddyman: (Severe Delays)
Well I started out a few minutes late this morning and ran into the hell that is London Underground again.

The Victoria Line was suspended at just about the time I needed it, so I was forced to detour down to Embankment and pick up the (delayed) District Line. Embankment is one of the few central London stations not completely underground, so I had enough signal on my mobile to receive a text message from my boss informing me that he was on a train outside Victoria Station, unable to get in because there was no room on the platform. The passengers were getting tetchy, I understand.

I only mention this latest tale of travel woe because the Metro, the free morning paper strewn around the various stations and read by most people during their commute carried a story indicating that London has the best (though most expensive) transport system in the world.

If that is true, then I pity the rest of you.

Poot

Tuesday, August 8th, 2006 10:32 am
caddyman: (Severe Delays)
Do you know, I can't be bothered to rant about it.

I am merely going to use the key words: Northern, Victoria, line and point you at the icon.

That is all.

Poot

Tuesday, August 8th, 2006 10:32 am
caddyman: (Severe Delays)
Do you know, I can't be bothered to rant about it.

I am merely going to use the key words: Northern, Victoria, line and point you at the icon.

That is all.
caddyman: (Severe Delays)
Let's see, time to go home, but by which of the myriad choices tonight?

The Victoria Line? No, that's suspended.
The Northern Line? No, severe delays.
Piccadilly Line? Hmm... severe delays.
Bakerloo Line, then? Ah. Severe delays.
Shall I try a dog's leg confection on the Circle, District, Hammersmith and City, Central, East London, Jubilee or Metropolitan Lines?

Oh. Severe delays. That's the ENTIRE network then. All of it.

At least the Docklands Light Railway is still working. Not that it's any use to me.

That'll be two hours on the number 82 bus, then, will it?

How lucky I am to live in a city with such a splendid and up-to-date integrated transit system.
caddyman: (Severe Delays)
Let's see, time to go home, but by which of the myriad choices tonight?

The Victoria Line? No, that's suspended.
The Northern Line? No, severe delays.
Piccadilly Line? Hmm... severe delays.
Bakerloo Line, then? Ah. Severe delays.
Shall I try a dog's leg confection on the Circle, District, Hammersmith and City, Central, East London, Jubilee or Metropolitan Lines?

Oh. Severe delays. That's the ENTIRE network then. All of it.

At least the Docklands Light Railway is still working. Not that it's any use to me.

That'll be two hours on the number 82 bus, then, will it?

How lucky I am to live in a city with such a splendid and up-to-date integrated transit system.
caddyman: (I've had enough of this!)
Although I am not a parent myself, being the uncle of three and Godfather to two, I feel that I take a sufficient amount of interest in the upbringing and handling of the little brutes to be able to offer advice on children to those who have them.

Specifically, I would suggest to any young mother who feels that it is essential to take her little 12-18 month old girl on a tube journey toward the end of the morning rush hour, there are a few ground rules that should be borne in mind.

Rule the first: Assuming that the timing of the journey is unavoidable (because if you waited just a half hour, you would find the trains almost empty), try not to place your precious little bundle in the child-care equivalent of a Humvee. Commuters, already packed in beyond endurance will not thank you for breaking their lower legs and forcing them to stand at gravity-defying angles for upwards of half an hour. The staff and crew of London Underground are quite adept at the latter without your help and they are professionals. Remember: "smaller is better"

Rule the second: When your precious little darling gets restless, it is quite acceptable to pick the child up and calm it. It is rather less acceptable to allow the little bastard darling to squirm through the forest of legs of already pissed off and cramped commuters who can barely stand because you ignored rule the first.

Rule the third: There will inevitably come a time when little sweetiekins is bored, tired, hot and distressed from taking her little promenade through the carriage. She will probably feel somewhat aggrieved at the numerous accidental standings-on she will have received, too. You will understandably wish to calm and entertain baby snookums. May I suggest that whilst picking her up is a good idea, distracting her by bringing to her attention the (undeniably) entertaining, very red and accessible passenger alarm switch is likely to be unwise. Children are, by nature an inquisitive species.

It doesn’t take a genius to realise that baby Chlamydia -or whatever interesting name you Islington prats give children these days- will wish to investigate more closely.

And pull the lever.

I hope you enjoyed the ten minute standstill in a hot, crowded and stationary train several hundred feet below ground. I did; I was sitting down and dozing. The conversation around me was entertaining, too.
caddyman: (I've had enough of this!)
Although I am not a parent myself, being the uncle of three and Godfather to two, I feel that I take a sufficient amount of interest in the upbringing and handling of the little brutes to be able to offer advice on children to those who have them.

Specifically, I would suggest to any young mother who feels that it is essential to take her little 12-18 month old girl on a tube journey toward the end of the morning rush hour, there are a few ground rules that should be borne in mind.

Rule the first: Assuming that the timing of the journey is unavoidable (because if you waited just a half hour, you would find the trains almost empty), try not to place your precious little bundle in the child-care equivalent of a Humvee. Commuters, already packed in beyond endurance will not thank you for breaking their lower legs and forcing them to stand at gravity-defying angles for upwards of half an hour. The staff and crew of London Underground are quite adept at the latter without your help and they are professionals. Remember: "smaller is better"

Rule the second: When your precious little darling gets restless, it is quite acceptable to pick the child up and calm it. It is rather less acceptable to allow the little bastard darling to squirm through the forest of legs of already pissed off and cramped commuters who can barely stand because you ignored rule the first.

Rule the third: There will inevitably come a time when little sweetiekins is bored, tired, hot and distressed from taking her little promenade through the carriage. She will probably feel somewhat aggrieved at the numerous accidental standings-on she will have received, too. You will understandably wish to calm and entertain baby snookums. May I suggest that whilst picking her up is a good idea, distracting her by bringing to her attention the (undeniably) entertaining, very red and accessible passenger alarm switch is likely to be unwise. Children are, by nature an inquisitive species.

It doesn’t take a genius to realise that baby Chlamydia -or whatever interesting name you Islington prats give children these days- will wish to investigate more closely.

And pull the lever.

I hope you enjoyed the ten minute standstill in a hot, crowded and stationary train several hundred feet below ground. I did; I was sitting down and dozing. The conversation around me was entertaining, too.

(no subject)

Wednesday, July 5th, 2006 10:07 pm
caddyman: (Severe Delays)
Tired, tired, tired.

Just to complete my day, the Northern Line was as screwed as I've ever known it due to a power failure at Colliers Wood. Why they couldn't operate the service stopping short of there, given it's right down the end of the line is beyond me. I left the office at 18.20 and was at Euston by 18.45. I was still at Euston at 19.30, and finally left Camden Town about 19.50.

Quite why they feel the need to route dozens of half-empty trains to Edgeware whilst closing access to overcrowded High Barnet platforms is beyond me.

The perfect end to the perfect day.

Sunday night it is the Azzurri against Les Bleus in the World Cup Final. At the risk of damning them, I fancy the Italians to shade the French, but what do I know?

God, I'm tired.

(no subject)

Wednesday, July 5th, 2006 10:07 pm
caddyman: (Severe Delays)
Tired, tired, tired.

Just to complete my day, the Northern Line was as screwed as I've ever known it due to a power failure at Colliers Wood. Why they couldn't operate the service stopping short of there, given it's right down the end of the line is beyond me. I left the office at 18.20 and was at Euston by 18.45. I was still at Euston at 19.30, and finally left Camden Town about 19.50.

Quite why they feel the need to route dozens of half-empty trains to Edgeware whilst closing access to overcrowded High Barnet platforms is beyond me.

The perfect end to the perfect day.

Sunday night it is the Azzurri against Les Bleus in the World Cup Final. At the risk of damning them, I fancy the Italians to shade the French, but what do I know?

God, I'm tired.

Going Underground

Friday, June 23rd, 2006 11:17 am
caddyman: (Severe Delays)
Ah Friday, best day of the week: weekend is nearly here and it is all anticipation of a good skive - I have nothing planned except perhaps wandering into Finchley to buy a waste paper basket for the bedroom (Oh, I know how to enjoy myself) and watching more football than many would consider sane.

There may be ice lollies, too; depends upon the weather.

The journey into work this morning was rather special. Northern Line to Euston OK; but traipsing around from the Charing Cross branch to the Victoria Line turned out to be pointless as the Victoria Line was suspended south of Warren Street because of signal failure.

Nice to have been warned.

I should have wandered back to the Northern Line Charing Cross Branch and made my way to Embankment, but the southbound Bank Branch train was coming in across the platform, so I though changing at Bank would do. The train was hot and crowded, so I bailed out at Monument instead, forgetting that that was on the north side of the Circle Line and that I would have to travel additional five or six stops. Still, it was less crowded and relatively cooler.

But it appears that the Circle and District Lines are subject to severe delays for some reason or other. Ah me. Forty minutes from Euston to Victoria…

And to add insult to injury, I remembered after the event that I could have changed to the Piccadilly Line at King’s Cross and exited at Green Park, leaving me with a pleasant walk down through the park instead of a slow moving heat and sweat fest at the wrong end of the city.

Tra-la.

Oh well, I’m here now. Another coffee beckons and then a smoke. Yes, I shall nip off for a ciggie, I think.

Going Underground

Friday, June 23rd, 2006 11:17 am
caddyman: (Severe Delays)
Ah Friday, best day of the week: weekend is nearly here and it is all anticipation of a good skive - I have nothing planned except perhaps wandering into Finchley to buy a waste paper basket for the bedroom (Oh, I know how to enjoy myself) and watching more football than many would consider sane.

There may be ice lollies, too; depends upon the weather.

The journey into work this morning was rather special. Northern Line to Euston OK; but traipsing around from the Charing Cross branch to the Victoria Line turned out to be pointless as the Victoria Line was suspended south of Warren Street because of signal failure.

Nice to have been warned.

I should have wandered back to the Northern Line Charing Cross Branch and made my way to Embankment, but the southbound Bank Branch train was coming in across the platform, so I though changing at Bank would do. The train was hot and crowded, so I bailed out at Monument instead, forgetting that that was on the north side of the Circle Line and that I would have to travel additional five or six stops. Still, it was less crowded and relatively cooler.

But it appears that the Circle and District Lines are subject to severe delays for some reason or other. Ah me. Forty minutes from Euston to Victoria…

And to add insult to injury, I remembered after the event that I could have changed to the Piccadilly Line at King’s Cross and exited at Green Park, leaving me with a pleasant walk down through the park instead of a slow moving heat and sweat fest at the wrong end of the city.

Tra-la.

Oh well, I’m here now. Another coffee beckons and then a smoke. Yes, I shall nip off for a ciggie, I think.

Bloody Underground!

Friday, June 2nd, 2006 05:49 pm
caddyman: (Severe Delays)
I've just checked the TFL website to see how the Tube is running tonight.

Imagine my joy to find that my branch of the Northern Line is suspended because they managed to derail a (happily empty) train at Archway. So, Victoria Line to Finsbury for me, followed by the overland to Oakleigh Park and a bracing walk laden with bags.

Fan-friggin-tastic.

Or I could spend a couple of hours crushed in an 82 to North Finchley.

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