My local Death Star

I love this…

Turns out that some of the filming for the new Star Wars movie was done in my local Tube station, Canary Wharf. Gizmodo have the details.

The first Rogue One trailer has dropped, and London’s own Jubilee Line appears to have played host to one of the movie’s most exciting scenes. Commuting can be pretty horrible, but I’ve never had it quite this bad.

The worst thing I can say about the station is that it can get very crowded. I’ve yet to witness the impact of the Empire on local commuters, but I’ll keep an eye open for Stormtroopers in future.

I wonder when it was filmed…

Also, the trailer for the next film is just so very, very good. I can’t believe it’s out this December. So much Star Wars goodness in such a short space of time. And not a Jedi in sight – marvellous!

Taking the long way home

Yesterday’s workday started with a cracker of a headache and I’m afraid it only got worse as the day progressed. I basically gave up at 5pm and decided to get the hell out of dodge. I couldn’t face the tube…the smell, the crowds, the noise.

So I started walking.

I was partly walking to avoid the tube and de-stress and partly to get my FitBit steps in. As I still can’t run and I don’t have a bike yet, walking is my main (only?) form of exercise.

My main observation? Simple.

You see so much more of London when you stroll above ground. I walked the relatively short distance between Tottenham Court Road and Bank and in that time:

  • Saw some cracking road-rage between aggressive cyclists and equally aggressive bus drivers
  • Spotted some very lovely Bromptons, which I am lusting after until I get my own
  • Came across two food outlets I want to visit when I have more time (hint: burritos)
  • Strolled across Paternoster Square and through the grounds of St Paul’s cathedral, enjoying the relative peace and quietBy the time I got to Bank station, my headache had almost disappeared.

Almost.

It felt good.

Walk it. See the city. Avoid the stinky pits. Skip a station or three. At least until it starts to rain.

As for me, I got more than my 10,000 steps in. I also composed this post in my head (and quickly jotted it down into Evernote while on the DLR) and arrived home in a significantly better mood than when I left work.

Glad Spring is on the way. More walking to come…

 

Evernote Camera Roll 20140227 190358

Why so serious?

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This morning I was mildly entertained by a sight I’m seeing more and more frequently lately: a woman putting her make-up on while on the tube.

The Central Line was jammers this morning, with people almost sitting on top of each other. Despite this, she sat there, gamely attempting to make contact between her eyelashes and a dangerously spiky looking mascara brush.

I wasn’t alone in watching her progress…I was (of course) standing and people around me were craning their necks to see how she was getting along.

So far, so normal I hear you say.

Except this woman was applying mascara, in the middle of a rush-hour tube, withoutthe aid of a mirror. As such, much of it was missing her lashes completely and ending up in a series of smudges around her eyes. She was beginning to look as if someone had given her a black eye.

The fact that she had poked herself in the right eye at least twice (while I was watching) caused some tears to flow, which made a further mess of the smudges.

I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say she was beginning to look a lot like The Joker, as played by Heath Ledger.
Just as I was beginning to feel a hint of pity for her – she obviously had no idea what a mess her face was turning into – she saw me watching, caught my eye and gave me a look of pure, unadulterated hatred.

I’m sorry. Let’s rewind here.

You’re the one doing something best done outside of a moving vehicle, better still in the privacy of your own bathroom. And you don’t have a mirror to even do it safely. You’re doing it in the middle of a packed train and you expect people not to look?

I don’t think so. There’s not a lot of amusement on the tube.

I think I get to watch. I think I get to enjoy imagining you walking into work looking like a slightly hungover version of a cross-dressing Batman villain.

And then blog about it here.

It’s not gender, it’s selfishness

TUBECOMMUTEesBarbara Ellen has a pop at men who sit on trains with their legs too far apart in today’s Observer. She calls out men who sit as if they’re about to give birth to a live mammal, impinging on the available seating space for their fellow passengers.

And she’s not wrong here – I’ve seen many men do this on the Tube.

First, this idea that these men have “no choice” but to sit with their legs splayed, dominating-alpha-style. The justifications I’ve seen range from the differences of the male pelvis, and the threat of overheated sperm, to having their “stuff outside” and not wanting to put their “junk in a vice”.

Then there is size, nature having been so over-generous in its provision that the men are unable to sit normally on public transport. Judging by the number of men who manage to sit perfectly normally, there seems to be a modicum of delusional bragging going on here.

This isn’t about bodies. You don’t see women with large breasts flopping them over seats or people’s shoulders, saying: “Sorry, this junk’s outside – I’m going to need some of your space!” Nor do women sit with their legs splayed, crying: “Ever heard of thrush and cystitis? I’ve got to cool this baby down!” If women don’t ask for special consideration for their physique on public transport, why should men? It doesn’t make sense. Then again, when it comes to zoning, maybe it does.

However, the fault doesn’t lie with men alone, something that the many comments on her article are quick to point out.

I’d argue that a lack of consideration for your fellow passengers isn’t gender-bound, but is instead something more fundamental: pure selfishness.  Continue reading “It’s not gender, it’s selfishness”

Distracting…

On the tube this afternoon, I saw a man wearing what must have been the shortest denim shorts in the history of all civilisation.

It was hard not to stare. Their very shortness pulled my disbelieving eyeballs in their direction, much like an unwilling Millennium Falcon caught in the tractor-beam of an all-powerful Death Star.

The pockets were hanging lower than the bottom of the shorts. They were short. Very, very short. Dangerously short.

He was also sporting a porn-tastic moustache and bouffant curly ‘do, not until the guys in the 118-118 ads. And I was not along in staring. He had the attention of every person on the carriage.

And he. Was. Loving. It.

Regardless of motivation, I salute him and his sartorial choices.

I just don’t think I could pull the same look off…what with the no hair and short legs.

Putting the “F” into TFL

Aside from waking up at an un-godly hour to get to the hospital for my MRI scan, my morning wasn’t the most fun. I found out at the last minute that London Underground was providing its usual weekend service (i.e. half the network down for “upgrades”) which meant me taking the DLR to Bow and getting a dreaded rail replacement bus service.

Now.

I don’t know about you, but when I read the phrase “rail replacement”, I assume that the service provided is to mimic that of the rail journey you would make. Double-checking the destination and stops with the driver as I got on, I was a tad annoyed to find out that the bus flew past the tube stop I needed.

With me on it.

I wasn’t alone. Half of the bus jumped out of their seats and shouted as one. The bus driver kept going, flying along the Bow Road, narrowly missing cyclists and pedestrians as he swerved from lane to lane.

He had a colleague from TfL “assisting” him. By which I mean she leant against the driver’s cabin telling him not to stop at various bust stops and complaining about her early start. Quite loudly. When asked anything by passengers,  all she would do was repeatedly say this wasn’t her real job, she didn’t know the route and only had a map to go by.

Without any sense of irony, she kept saying “I’m only following the orders I was given this morning”. They even refused to let people off the bus when we stopped at traffic lights.

For someone who works for TfL, she really didn’t know much. Didn’t know which tube lines were affected by the “upgrades”, didn’t know how passengers could get on the Central Line (Mile End station was closed) and didn’t know why we weren’t going to stop at each District Line tube station as the label “rail replacement” would suggest. She wasn’t able to answer a single question from any passenger and demonstrated a complete and utter lack of customer service.

After a few minutes, all I really wanted to do was just get off the bus and start walking, deeply regretting the decision to get on in the first place.

I eventually got off at Whitechapel and ended up walking back to my MRI appointment. Only when I was halfway along the route did I realise I’d somehow lost my Fitbit. This is the third unit I’ve somehow managed to lose, so I doubt I’ll be replacing it. Just too much cash for something that – albeit very useful – is so easily detached from my trousers!

Mumbling a neat little line of various expletives to myself, I got to the hospital late, but still in time for my scan. The scan itself went like clockwork, the only pain being the fact that I had to listen to “Smooth FM” on the earphones for 20 minutes. There’s only so much Lionel Richie a man can listen to, believe me. Even this man.

Some additional X-rays scheduled for Monday and I’ll soon find out exactly what’s wrong with m’knee. And *hopefully* get back running as soon as possible.

On the upside, I managed a walk around the Isle of Dogs this afternoon. Better than nothing, but a route I’d much rather run than walk.

Stinky-poo choo-choo

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Don’t for one moment think I’m complaining about the (long overdue) arrival of summer in London, but…

Seriously, people. It’s hot. That’s no excuse for not washing thoroughly. in fact, it’s an indication for you to engage in a little extra scrubbing before leaving home in the morning.

I got the tube from Bank to Tottenham Court Road this morning and was taken aback by the sheer volume of stink on the train.

It was breathtaking. It was astounding. It was revolting.

Stops at the stations in between provided some respite as some less stinky air was let into the carriage. But it was short-lived – as soon as the doors closed again, a wave of damp, warm and fetid air washed over the entire carriage.

Obviously, this is partly due to the combination of quite warm weather and the complete and utter lack of air conditioning on the London Underground.

But mostly…mostly, I could smell dirty humans and in 2013, that’s pretty sad. The worst offenders? In my experience, it seems to be guys in suits. Otherwise respectable looking chaps, but with a sweep of the arm to reach up for a handhold on a warm, slippery pole, each sent forth a waft of man-stink that was epic in it magnitude.

I actually gagged several times.

One poor woman stepped up onto the train at Chancery Lane and immediately stepped back again, a look of disgust on her face so powerful, I thought she was going to have a stroke.

I knew how she felt.

I can honestly say I’ve never been so glad to get above ground, even if it was onto the filthy and over-crowded Tottenham Court Road.

Please, Londoners – this warm weather is going to last at least a few more days.

Have a shower, okay?

My precious…

Coming home last night (after an epically long day) I saw one of those slow-motion disasters that happens all too frequently: I watched a women drop her iPhone 5 onto the cold, unyielding surface of a London Underground platform.

It was gut-wrenching and I can still her face screw up into absolute agony. There was a collective gasp from other (usually indifferent) commuters as the phone bounced, making a sickening noise, then sliding towards the precipice of the platform edge.

Really, the gasp was audible. A bit like when a football hits the goalposts, missing the back of the net.

I imagine…

Anyway, she dashed to the edge of the platform to pick up her phone, just as the train was pulling in. If she’d been even a little unsteady on her feet, she could have been over the edge and in front of the train.

She picked up the handset, nursing it in her hands like a downed sparrow and slowly stepped onto the train. A completely (I think) random woman walk ed up to her and put her arm around her to console her. I didn’t get a look at the phone, but judging by the look on her face, it can’t have been in good shape.

And while I feel for her, what really amazed me was the unconscious empathy demonstrated by everyone around her. The gasp, followed by the panicked “where’s my phone” patting of the trouser pockets.

I spent the remaining journey home wondering how I’d handle dropping my iPhone 5 onto a similarly hard surface. It wasn’t a pretty image.

Think of it this way: we’re all walking around with powerful (and expensive) mini-computers in our pockets/handbags. Worth hundreds of pounds/dollars/preciousness, you’d think we’d take better care of them.

Like it says at the top of this page, “taking geek to the next level”.

Cat in a box

Sat next to a man on the tube earlier, with a box of beer on his lap. Five minutes into the journey, his “box of beer” started to make cat-like noises and moments later, a kitten poked its head out of the top.

The entire carriage of normally-stern Londoners melted as one and went “aww…”.

It took a fair chink of my (already depleted) willpower to avoid reaching out and stealing that kitten. It. Was. Adorable.

And now I want to spend the evening watching YouTube videos of cats.

But there’s running to be done…