Sunday, 26 September 2010

The Pope's Visit

Groups of pilgrims stand in Victoria Station. African nuns wear yellow 'Papal visit 2010' bags. They look so happy. Two priests walk past me. A gold cross shines light into my eye from the breast of one, a reminder to me of the wealth of the Catholic church before I cite its symbolic meaning.

Underground, a father is explaining to his young children that it's busy because the Pope is in London today.
'But daddy,' one proclaims, 'the Pope's old.'

I smile as I board the tube to travel away from the epicentre.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Defining PC Games and Media of Old.

I've always been interested in the paranormal. God, ghosts, lake monsters, yetis, time portals, telekinesis and everything else 'unexplained' fascinated me from the minute I was aware of them as concepts (if a toddler can grasp the concept of God, which I suppose is not necessarily plausible).

This evening I was talking to @oye_billy on Twitter and I brought up a PC game I loved as a kid. I had to look it up. It was based on Sam & Max, comic book characters created by Steve Purcell in the late 80s (I'm an 80s kid). The game was called Sam & Max Hit the Road and I loved it because they went across America solving mysteries in weird places. Like at the giant ball of yarn.

Another game I played, again on the PC, was 'WeiRd.' In this game you went through various levels solving puzzles and reading about things like the woman with asthma, which for some reason caused her breasts to glow blue. The game was a place of different dimensions that were fantastically designed, from holes that descended miles underground with stories to unearth as you went down, to labs and misty mazes. It was magnificent.

I even enjoyed the Goosebumps PC game, One Day At Horrorland which was neither cool nor magnificent.

On TV, The X-Files was a seven-year-old revelation. From the first episode I found my mother watching in our living room (Mulder running a tooth through a supermarket check-out and alien code screwing the system) to the the hole in the smoking man's windpipe near the end.

And with a backdrop of Fortean Times Magazine from the age of eleven, all these things were absorbed with a lot of love. Yet somehow I still don't think I've turned out as a geek. Not really.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

No One's Infallible

So... Yesterday I bet everything (I'm not sure entirely what I bet) that I'd be okay commuting to London and using the tube on the day the staff went on strike.

To be fair, I was acting under the advice of older, wiser people than myself.

The train from Bristol to Paddington was fine, emptier than usual but on time.

@Biltawulf had tweeted me, 'go for it. It's fun!' which gave, I think, a slightly false sense of hope. But he'd somehow managed to get into work earlier than he had in years so it was coming from a good place.
I arrived. I walked past this queue on my way to the tube.
And then I was told there was no tube from Paddington. The tube trains may have been running but if they weren't running from where I was it was no use.
I asked for help. A friendly Transport-helper-person (I've no official name to hand) told me to get the 205 bus from outside. Lovely, I thought as I bounded to the bus stop full of hope.
I was greeted by this at the bus stop:
So the upshot was, over an hour and only two simultaneously-arriving-and-quickly-filled 205 buses later, I turned around and went back into Paddington. I was too late to meet the person I was meant to.

But it was alright... at least I wasn't a doctor or other important integral cog in London's Big Ben... or something.

Monday, 6 September 2010

The Tube Strike Won't Affect My Train Travel

Monday morning and typing ‘tube’ into Google brings up ‘tube strike’ as the second most searched for tube related thing after ‘map.’ BBC news is tops in the results with advice to, ‘take an alternative way of getting home’

TfL have allowed ‘Around a hundred extra buses, escorted bike rides, marshalled taxi ranks, and capacity for 10,000 more journeys on the river.’

On Twitter people seem more annoyed about the Guardian’s ‘obvious’ headline, ‘Tube strike to cause mass disruption across London.’ Some are excited about having an excuse to cycle and @therealmilesyuk is: ‘Secretly a bit looking forward to London anarchy caused by tube strike.’

Royal Maritime and Transport (RMT) and the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA), (maintenance and engineering staff) go on strike at 5pm today, and other RMT and TSSA Tube staff, ‘including station staff and some drivers’, begin at 9pm. They’re facing 800 job cuts because of Oyster card success – In a similar vein to supermarket staff who’ve been replaced by self-service check-outs and cinemas where you only need your bank card to pick up tickets.
I’m particularly interested in the words ‘some drivers.’ The strike is predominantly maintenance and engineering staff, so I’m thinking ‘most drivers’ will still be driving my tube trains.

In fact I’m willing to bet on it. I currently commute from Bristol to London. I get into Paddington then take the tube to work. At the end of the day, I take the tube back to Paddington. Miss the last train and I’m in a bit of a predicament.
I can’t ride a bike back (I can ride a bike…I just don’t have one). I haven’t worked out what buses to use. Oh, and it’s my brother’s birthday so I want to get his present to him. The BBC may think me an ‘irresponsible traveller.’ Let’s see if they’re right tomorrow.