Tuesday, February 28, 2006

An open letter to the cow who stood in the rear doorway of the front District Line carriage at Mile End station tonight

Hello. You don't know me, but we took the same train home tonight. In fact you wouldn't know me if you saw me, because I was the bloke standing behind you. But that's my point.

We were both stood on the platform at Mile End station around quarter to eight. I was leaning against the tiled pillar reading my newspaper when you waltzed off the Central line train behind me. You were lucky, the next District Line train was just pulling into the platform, whereas I'd been waiting five minutes and I'd nearly run out of stuff to read. I don't know whether your Tuesday had been as hectic and hassle-filled as mine - somehow I doubt it. Twelve hours earlier I'd been standing on the opposite platform, yawning, on my journey into the office. There I endured a day of patronising emails, pointless admin, seven-hour meetings, marketing doublespeak and corporate backstabbing, before finally stumbling homeward ready for a quiet evening to recuperate. And then I met you.

There were scores of people standing on the platform, so we were both towards the rear of the crowd as the next train arrived. You were wearing one of those Persil-white anoraks with the big furry hood, more Girls Aloud than trainspotter, with some kind of boyfriend in tow. You seemed engrossed tapping something important into your flash electronic handset, a shiny metal pointer gripped between your ruby-tipped fingers. Then, as the train doors opened, you walked slowly forward like a blinkered automaton to join the other commuters crammed arm-to-elbow inside the carriage. Just one narrow space remained in the doorway - occupied by your big black rucksack - and just one person remained on the platform - me.

You never noticed me behind you. You didn't think to move slightly further inside the carriage in case anyone else might be queueing up behind. You didn't hear me thinking "surely she's going to move slightly forward out of the way and let me on board, isn't she?". You didn't spot me staring at you in mounting disbelief as the train prepared to depart. You didn't flinch whan I stepped up nimbly from the platform behind the imminently-closing door. You didn't feel me squeeze deftly into the remaining few centimetres of borderline floorspace. You didn't spot me spreadeagled flat against the glass as the train jolted out of the station. You didn't feel the vibrations when your rucksack bashed into my ribcage on one, two, three... eleven, twelve separate occasions. You didn't share the eyebrows-raised glances that I swapped with the woman standing beside you, equally gobsmacked by your oblivious impertinence. You didn't once realise that your unyielding self-centredness had extended your own personal space whilst violating my own. And when I nipped out of the carriage with relief at the next station to start my walk home, you never even noticed that I'd gone.

Sorry, I should have had the guts to tell you all of this face to face. Except I never saw your face, only your backside and your rucksack. Especially your rucksack. I should have told you that people with good manners sometimes think to look behind them because they consider others as well as themselves. I should have told you that you were a thoughtless bastard. But I didn't. So pray you don't pull the same trick tomorrow because, after the day I'm expecting to have, I may just punch you in the face this time. Or dodge in front of you so that your ego gets squashed in the closing door or, even better, left behind on the platform. But somehow I doubt you'd even notice. Cow.

Yours not-at-all-overstressedly

 Monday, February 27, 2006

Very Cross-rail

It's not every day you return home to discover that the Government plans to divert one of London's major sewers beneath your flat. Thankfully this hasn't quite happened to me, but it's come bloody close (like, within fifty metres) and that's scary enough.

Crossrail is coming. Very slowly, admittedly, but by 2013 it's hoped that rail travellers will be able to zoom underneath central London and out into the suburbs far faster than is possible today. Sounds great. And it will be, except for the unlucky few who live just that bit too close to the proposed route of the new tunnels, because you can't build a new railway without making a mess. In East London, for example, there's a big fuss up Brick Lane about the proposed Hanbury Lane shaft which will see lorryloads of spoil being carted through the streets of Banglatown. Elsewhere Crossrail planners appear to have hunted down most of the available patches of open space directly above their tunnel route (like half of Finsbury Circus, the fountain beneath Centre Point, a Sainsbury's car park and a traveller caravan site), and plan to transform them into ventilation shafts and temporary worksites. If it can't fight back, they'll build on it.

Crossrail crosses the River Lea hereOne of the areas to be seriously affected is Bow. We're not getting a station or anything useful, but Crossrail is due to burrow within 100 metres of my house before passing underneath the River Lea (pictured) and emerging from deep tunnel just to the south of the Olympic site. Us locals are therefore promised "about four years and three months" of major building works while they construct the tunnel portal. Plans include the closure of various riverside towpaths for "a year and three months", a month-long closure of the busy A12 Blackwall Tunnel Approach road, a realigned DLR station and the eastward diversion of a major sewer. We're advised that all this work will provide "adverse visual impacts" for residents... unless we happen to like cranes and concrete mixers, that is. And this is in addition to six years of neighbouring Olympic redevelopment. Which means that my local area is about to turn into a giant building site for the forseeable future - peaking in 2010, apparently. But not quite directly affecting my house. Or so I thought.

I received a letter this week advising me that Crossrail's plans have altered slightly. That sewer they were planning to divert eastwards is going to have to curve west instead to avoid some very solid industrial foundations. And this new realignment will bring a lot of tunnelling and a stream of effluent very nearly, but not quite, underneath my flat. Delightful. The sewer diversion also requires three new permanent access shafts, so Crossrail have looked for the three least contentious patches of land round here and plan to build on those too. Residents of Bow Quarter will no doubt be delighted by the construction of the new 'Manhattan Shaft' close to their esteemed apartments. The view from my window, or at least the green part of it, will be replaced by yet another grey-topped worksite, at least temporarily. And the drive-through burger restaurant down by the Bow Flyover will have to be demolished so that the third sewer shaft can be built. Hmmm, the destruction of a McDonalds restaurant and its replacement by a sewage outfall - maybe all this new development isn't quite so bad after all...

Crossrail (official site)
Crossrail explained (at alwaystouchout)
Crossrail supporting documents (seriously detailed documentation and maps, showing exactly what's due to happen exactly where)
Crossrail's environmental impact - Mile End and Bow (48 page pdf)

 Sunday, February 26, 2006

Chocs away
I have to ask. Why aren't the chocolate vending machines on tube station platforms working?

no dairy milk todayNot that they ever worked very well in the first place. Many's the time an optimistic tourist has poked a coin into the slot, pressed the magic three-digit code and waited in vain for their chosen Dairy Milk or Fruit & Nut to appear. Maybe these people dont realise that Cadbury's chocolate is also available above ground in real shops, cheaper.

But the problem is now far more serious - it seems that not one of these vending machines is working. Creeping extinction appears to have occured over the last month, just in time for the Creme egg season. Now every chocolate machine on every London Underground platform has a cheaply wordprocessed notice sellotaped to the front, apologising that the machine is "temporarily out of order". There's a dodgy capital letter in the message, and there's some punctuation missing too, but the implication remains obvious - you can't buy chocolate here any more. I have to ask. What's happened?

option 1) The company which supplies these machines has gone bust.
option 2) The Government has banned the sale of unhealthy food beneath the surface of London.
option 3) Cadbury are planning to refurbish the machines to vend cappucinos, mochas and lattes instead.
option 4) The machines have developed an electrical fault and risk bursting into flames killing hundreds of innocent commuters.
option 5) Something else. Any theories?

Monday update: Who'd have thought - it's option 4!
"A few weeks/months ago, Oxford Circus station was evacuated and LFB called, due to smoke pouring from the chocolate machine. LUL engineers inspected them and found that a faulty part was causing the machine to dispense more than chocolate. Whilst repairs take place all the machines have been isolated in "section 12" stations. Those outside are not affected." (via District Dave's forum)

 Friday, February 24, 2006

Olympic bandwagon

Don't you just hate bandwagon-jumpers? Individuals, companies or pressure groups with their own agenda who insist on adding their voice where it's not appropriate. If something big's in the news, or doing the rounds, they're the first to suggest a connection to their own agenda. Start a conversation with these people, on any topic, and they'll twist things round to talking about themselves. It's all me-me-me with this lot. So it's not surprising that London's headline-hugging 2012 Olympic Games are attracting hangers-on in their droves. Like the following, which are just from this week...
Headline: "Lights go out on London’s 2012 Olympics, fear UK energy experts"
PR puffery:
"The UK's leading energy experts have cited blackouts during London's 2012 Olympics as a serious concern, according to a new survey launched today by Mitsui Babcock, a world leader in clean coal technologies. The Mitsui Babcock EnergyPulse survey, which polled 140 UK energy experts.. revealed that a worrying 77 per cent believe power cuts are a genuine threat in 2012."
Reality: There might be energy problems ahead, but these have nothing to do with the Olympics. They just might happen in the same year. Or maybe not. Still, well done to Mitsui Babcock for piggy-backing themselves into the news.

Headline: "Britain can join the modern metric World – and do it by the time that the all-metric Olympic Games open in London in 2012"
PR puffery:
"Britain's road signs could go metric within 5 years, according to a new report by the UK Metric Association. The report shows that there would be many benefits from converting road signs to show kilometres, metres and km/h (kilometres per hour)."
Reality: There might (or might not) be good reasons for converting all British road signs to metric, but this has nothing to do with the Olympics. They're just an unconnected event happening 6 years in the future. Still, well done to the UK Metric Association for piggy-backing themselves into the news.

Headline: "RMT Union wants Olympic strike deal"
Bob Crow puffery:
"People will tell you the Sydney Olympics was one of the smoothest running, public transport wise. What they had done was put an attendance bonus in place where it gave a benefit to people to come to work, to make sure the Games run smoothly and give the company flexibility on the running of the services. I imagine if our members don't get the same as other groups of workers have, we could have difficulties."
Reality: Tube staff don't normally get paid extra just for deciding to come to work, but maybe they'll be so gripped by watching the 2012 Olympics that they'll forget turn up for duty. Or maybe not. Still, well done to Bob Crow for piggy-backing yet another veiled blackmail threat into the news.
It's gobsmacking the lengths some people will go to in order to associate themselves with the next big thing. I'm expecting the following any day soon...
Headline: "Global warming threatens 2012 Olympics"
PR puffery: "Incompetent officials are planning to build London's new Olympic stadium less than 10m above sea level, according to a new survey by Lifebeltz PLC, a Swindon-based manufacturer of very reasonably-priced inflatable buoyancy aids. If all the penguins in the Antarctic were to spontaneously combust, the resulting tidal wave of melting ice could flood the Olympic arena causing massive casualties."

Headline: "Blogging explosion threatens 2012 Olympics"
PR puffery: "The size of the blogosphere continues to double every 6 months, according to top blog search engine Technorati. At this rate there'll be 230 billion blogs in existence by the summer of 2012, which is 30 blogs for every human on the planet. So it's a dead cert that absolutely everyone, including all our top athletes, will be too busy blogging about the Olympics to have time to turn up and compete."

Headline: "Cosmetic dentistry crisis threatens 2012 Olympics"
PR puffery: "Britain's young athletes are so poor that they can't afford top quality tooth-whitening and dental-straightening surgery, such as that provided by Gleam-U-Wite Orthodontic Services of the Eastgate Centre, Basildon. Their spokeswoman Trudi Barrett said she knew of at least three poverty-stricken youngsters who'd turned down the chance to train for Olympic glory for fear of having their brown-stained wonky smile ridiculed by international TV audiences."
etc etc etc

 Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Bow Road station update:
(new readers who've missed out on this thrilling story can catch up here)
• Remember that big tube-sign-on-a-stick that they erected on the pavement outside my local station in December? It lights up now. It's so exciting. It's like Christmas never ended.
• Remember the new 'next train' indicators that Metronet installed at great expense on each platform last summer? Alas the entire system stopped working just over a week ago. Now we get announcements over the tannoy telling us "Due to defects the train describers at this station are not working. Please check the destination on the front of the train". Sadly we don't get announcements telling us "We'd like to apologise for ripping out the old train describers just because they were old. Their 1960s lamp-lit technology was 100% reliable and would still have been functional".
• Workmen have installed a new white sign in the ticket hall above the exit door. It's labelled "Way Out". Unfortunately, to avoid 'heritage features' above the doorway, the sign has been attached so close to the ceiling that almost nobody ever looks up far enough to see it. Maybe that's because everyone can spot a bloody big doorway at ground level without any additional help.

 Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Sponsored tube station names - update: Remember that list of sponsored tube station names I posted last month, and that you helped contribute to? Well, I've been emailed by Paul to say that he and his friends have been inspired to create a complete London rail map full of sponsored names - all 326 stations no less! It's been no easy task, but the end result is pretty damned impressive. See it here (pdf). Maybe it'll be as big a hit as that anagram map which did the rounds a couple of weeks ago - let's hope so. By way of illustration, I've listed below the revised names for the stations along the Bakerloo line. But if you take a good look at the map yourself, you'll probably have your own favourites...

Ted Bakerloo line: Elephant.co.uk & Castle, British Lambeth North, Portaloo, IBMbankment, Charing Crosse & Blackwell, Harpiccadilly Circus, Oxoford Circus, Reebok's Park, Baker's Complete, Maybelline, Pledgeware Road, iPoddington, Warwick Avonue, Minute Maida Vale, Rentokilburn Park... and all stations to Yamaharrow & Wealdstone.

 Saturday, February 11, 2006

Odd loon dung runner spam

Harry Beck's London Underground map is such a design icon that computerfolk are forever designing spoof versions. There's the marvellous upside-down South London version, for example, and the ingenious London motorways map. But the usual trick is to retain the real diagram and just change the names of all 275 stations instead. Simon Patterson was probably the first (in 1992) with his Great Bear, but since then the tube map has also gone foody, German, sweary (not worksafe), Hollywood and (just last week) ingeniously musical. You can find tons more tube map variants over at Geoff's place and Owen's site.

And now to add to the collection (via via) there's a brand new London Underground map where each station name is replaced by an anagram. Simple, but brilliant. See it here.

Not all London station names are especially angrammable (Bow Road, for example, becomes the none-too inspiring 'Woo Bard'). Some, however, are cunningly simple (like the new termini at 'Pigpen', 'Modern', 'Ragweed' and 'A Monster'). But the great majority of the new names are just amusingly stupid (like 'Crux For Disco' for Oxford Circus, and 'Frog Innard' for Farringdon). By way of illustration, I've listed below the revised names for all the stations along Silverlink's North London Line, from west to east. But if you take a good look at the map yourself, you'll probably have your own favourites...

North London Line: Inch Dorm, Greek Dawns, Sunny Burger, Count Oaths, Natal Concert, Swelled Injunction, Lake Sirens, Do Raspberry Bunk, Rubber Synod, What Stampedes, Dragonfly & Falcon Hire, Hate Shamed Path, A Log Spoke, Wok Stew Thinnest, Add Romance, Absorbancy & Neural Android, This Hungry & Boiling, Cyan Bourn, Dark Tonsil Glands, Centenary Chalk, No Mother, Why Kick Acne, Draft Rots, Wet Mash, Want Conning, Scouse Mouth, Striven Owl, Choir Howl Town.

 Wednesday, February 08, 2006

RM1 - Routemaster gold

On 8th February 1956, exactly fifty years ago today, bus passengers travelling from Golders Green to Crystal Palace on Route 2 were no doubt surprised by the appearance of a strange-looking prototype omnibus with rear platform and chugging engine. Little did they know, that cold snowy morning, that they were the first passengers ever to board a future London icon. History does not record whether any old men in wheelchairs or young mothers with perambulators stood cursing at the kerbside as this new inaccessible omnibus pulled up. But suited commuters and warmly-wrapped ladies alike stepped bravely aboard, greeted the cheery conductor and took their seats about London's very first Routemaster, RM1.

RM1 plied its way between north and south London for a full six months, testing this unique modern vehicle under strenuous working conditions. The growing number of privately owned motor cars provided stiff competition for the nippy new Routemaster, both through the urban streets of Victoria and Brixton and through the leafy suburbs of Swiss Cottage and West Norwood. Drivers had to get to grips with the revolutionary power-assisted steering, while the new integrated heating system also proved extremely popular during that chilly 1956 winter. Independent front suspension provided passengers with a much more comfortable journey than was usual at the time, but only once the bus's seat cushions had been padded out somewhat following customer complaints.

On 8th August RM1 returned to Chiswick Garage for minor tweaks and a major overhaul, re-emerging in 1957 to spend a couple of years running on another cross-London route between Cricklewood and Surrey Docks. Meanwhile further prototypes were built and a final design was selected, with mass production Routemasters rolling off the production lines at Southall and Park Royal from 1959 onwards. Poor old RM1 was relegated for use only as a training bus, right through until 1972, before being taken off the roads and into storage. The bus was donated to the London Transport Museum in 1986, since when it's only been out on the streets in regular service on a handful of special occasions. My photograph above shows one of those extremely rare runs, departing from my house in Bow on the last day of Routemaster service on Route 8. I wonder whether those pioneering passengers aboard RM1, precisely fifty years ago, enjoyed their very special journey across London as much as I did.
A full history of RM1

This Saturday two dozen vehicles will take part in a 50th anniversary road run from Golders Green (1015-ish) to Crystal Palace (1130-ish), and back to Regents Park, along Route 2
Routemasters: a brief history
Routemasters: a very very detailed history
Last night Brixton's Ritzy Cinema showcased 25 short films, all made in the last week of regular Routemaster service
Yes, you're right, the Routemaster's proper 50th birthday was celebrated in style in Finsbury Park a couple of years ago
The Routemaster - English Icon and Great British design classic (vote vote vote!)
Take a birthday trip on Heritage Routes 9 and 15
Travis Elborough's fine book - The Bus we Loved
The last Routemaster

 Monday, February 06, 2006

I last paid a Sunday visit to Spitalfields Market a couple of years ago [report here] [map here]. The ageing eastern half of the market was thriving, packed with organic stallholders selling eclectic unorthodox wares. Meanwhile the western half of the site lay encased in plasterboard and scaffolding while major rebuilding took place behind. I went back again yesterday, and I'm sorry to report that the rebuilding is now virtually complete.

Where the listed 1928 half of the fruit and veg market once stood, now stands a shiny new office block (rear of photo). It's Foster-designed, so it looks pretty damned impressive, but somehow a ten storey HQ for lawyers doesn't quite feel the right thing to have built on this historic East End site. But the worst intrusion isn't this highrise, it's the new retail area added down below. Think of the most pointless useless shops imaginable (like luxury patisseries, designer boutiques and pampering massage centres), then string them all together along an artificial boulevard and wait for the yuppies to flood in. And don't forget to knock through the lower storey of the original heritage façades, because the original shop windows weren't big enough to show off all the gaudy handbags and chrome bathroom fittings on sale inside. And then relocate some of the displaced market stalls up a characterless modern passage where they don't feel anywhere near as vibrant or exciting as before. No wonder locals are upset.

Meanwhile the old market in the original Spitalfields building (front of photo) muddles on. Trendy alternative types still throng the narrow aisles in search of hand-crafted clothing, noodly snacks and mystic tat, but even this area is under threat. A substantial proportion of the market hall is slowly being filled by new elevated metal walkways, allowing a greater number of high-rent commercial traders and caterers to be crammed inside, but leaving even less floorspace for the original stallholders who made the market so successful in the first place. Don't get me wrong, Spitalfields is still well worth a weekend browse. But it pains me to see this historic area turning into yet another "landmark office, retail and leisure scheme", because London has far too many of those already.

 Sunday, February 05, 2006

New ticket office opening hours from February 5
"A key aim for LU is to have more staff available in stations to help passengers. Staff will be deployed more effectively, such as from ticket offices to ticket halls and platforms. We want to get as many staff out of ticket offices and out onto the station to assist and reassure customers, and be visible to help address security issues." (London Underground press release, 03/02/06)

London Underground Staff Training Manual - roleplay exercises

Passenger: I'd like to buy a ticket please.
Tube staff: I'm sorry, the ticket office is closed.
Passenger: How am I supposed to travel then?
Tube staff: You need one of those marvellous new Oyster cards instead.
Passenger: OK, I'll buy an Oyster card then.
Tube staff: I'm sorry, the ticket office is closed.

Passenger: I'd like to buy a ticket please.
Tube staff: I'm sorry, the ticket office is closed. But Naomi who used to sell tickets is down on the platform offering cappucinos, balloon animals and foot massages to our valued customers.
Passenger: Great. Can I have a ticket to go down onto the platform?
Tube staff: I'm sorry, the ticket office is closed.

Passenger: Quisiera comprar un billete por favor?
Tube staff: You what?
Passenger: Un billete a Piccadilly Circus
Tube staff: Oh. Er. Sorry. The tick...et off...ice is clo...sed.
Passenger: Bastardo inútil.

Passenger: I can't be bothered to buy a ticket, so I'd like to vault over this ticket barrier while you're not looking.
Tube staff: Don't worry, I'll carry on disinterestedly filling in my Sudoku while you abuse the system.
Passenger: Cheers guv.
Tube staff: And next time, save all that effort and walk brazenly through the luggage gate like everybody else.

Passenger: Excuse me, but can you direct me towards the westbound platform?
Tube staff: Certainly sir. It's this way. Just follow the sign here labelled 'westbound platform'.
Passenger: I know, I saw that.
Tube staff: Then why did you ask me for directions?
Passenger: Sorry but you looked utterly bored standing there, so I thought I'd ask for assistance just to try to make you feel vaguely useful and worthwhile.
Tube staff: When you come back, do wake me up and I'll show you the way out.

Passenger: Oh my god oh my god oh my god!
Tube staff: Calm down madam, what seems to be the matter?
Passenger: I'm so scared they have bombs on the tube and they shoot people and I could get stabbed or mugged and I'll probably end up in a carriage with a terrorist and they have big rucksacks that go boom and I know nobody's been hurt for more than six months but I'm still so scared oh my god oh my god I don't want to die!
Tube staff: Do you have a ticket madam?
Passenger: No.
Tube staff: But the ticket office is closed, so you won't be able to catch a train after all.
Passenger: Oh thank you kind staff member, that is SO reassuring.

 Saturday, February 04, 2006

  the definitive DG guide to London's sights-worth-seeing
  Part 5: London Wetland Centre

Location: Queen Elizabeth's Walk, Barnes, SW13 9SA [map]
Open: 9.30am - 6pm (closes 5pm in Winter)
Admission: £6.75
5-word summary: reclaimed reservoirs, now waterfowl airport
Website: www.wwt.org.uk/visit/wetlandcentre
Time to set aside: at least an afternoon

What do you do with four unwanted reservoirs? You grab a lottery handout and transform them into one hundred acres of reclaimed wetland habitat, that's what. And you do it with natural style. And then you wait for the wildlife to arrive.

You fly into the London Wetland Centre following the northern Heathrow flightpath... but only if you're a bird. Down there, inside the great Boat-Race curve of the Thames, see those giant interlinked lagoons, that's where you touch down. Maybe out there in the reedbeds, or over on that grassy islet, or perhaps just an ostentatious spashdown in the middle of the shining lake. Just don't expect to get any privacy, because there are humans lurking out of sight at the water's edge, and their binoculars are enormous.

Visitors start their undercover surveillance operation at the visitor centre in the southwest corner. There's a briefing video in the mini cinema, and also an observation gallery (and telescope shop) in the building opposite. From here you can head north to view the 'World Wetlands' exhibit, featuring recreated habitats from peat swamp to paddy field. The ducks I saw may have been indigenous, but I suspect the flocks of hungry pigeons were just chancing their luck. Further north are the weaving paths of the 'Wildside' - where I stopped amongst the reedbeds to watch a solitary heron munching determinedly on a tasty wriggling water vole. Out east you'll find the sustainable water gardens, presumably rather more impressive in the summer when the ponds aren't iced over. And there are also several wooden hides, one of them three storeys high, with a commanding view over the surrounding lakeland. Here the twitchers hide themselves away with their packed lunch and a giant lens, peering out of the narrow windows and zooming in on migrating waterfowl. Last weekend (according to the chalkboard) the wintering birds included shelduck, bittern and snipe, although to my untrained eye they all just looked like ducks.

It is quite frankly astonishing that such an expansive ornitholgical paradise should exist within Central London (Zone 2). The London Wetland Centre makes for a great green day out, not just for the hand-knitted brigade but also for outdoor couples and open-minded kids. Just wait for a sunny day, and remember to take your very best industrial strength eyeglasses. But go soon, before bird flu arrives and they have to slaughter the entire breeding stock.
by tube: Hammersmith  by 'duck bus': 283

 Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Instructions on how to ride upon the new-fangled Moving Staircase
(being for the benefit of visitors to London from flat places like Suffolk who have never seen an escalator before)

1) Upon leaving thy train, make thy way along the platform following the signs marked 'Way Out'.
2) Ensure that thou art not wearing any long dangly clothing and that thy bootlaces are tied tight. But do not stop at this point for to tie up thy laces, lest thou create chaos and be knocked over.
3) Approach the foot of the escalator with caution, but with joy in thy heart for thou art about to be transported upwards unto the surface of the fair city of London.
4) The escalators of London are divided into two halves – one for the 'left-walkers' and the other for the 'right-standers'. Verily must every man and woman decide unto which tribe they will belong. If this be thy first time ascending a moving staircase make sure thou joinest the 'right-standers', else shalt thou piss off the 'left-walkers' mightily and they will smite thee with savage glares.
5) Join thou the queue to the right of the escalator, ensuring that thou dost not trip up any 'left-walkers' rushing blindly across thy path. Take a deep breath and step gingerly onto the moving staircase.
6) Pull thyself together thou lily-livered oik, 'tis only a moving staircase, be brave and step on now! Stand carefully upon one complete step to await thy glorious upward elevation.
7) Should thou be spat out immediately with great haste, then hast thou climbed upon the wrong escalator in error! Pick thyself up, ignore the laughs of cruel bystanders and cross quickly to the other staircase.
8) Ensure that thou really art standing on the right-hand side of the escalator, and not blocking the left lane by mistake in the tiresome manner customary of visitors to the city. Neither should thou carry a big suitcase to block the safe passage of the 'left-walkers', nor should thou ascend in pairs.
9) Do not stop to read the posters placed up the side of the travelling staircase, for thou surely wilt block the way, and no theatrical performance worthy of thy presence dost advertise here anyway.
10) As the summit of the escalator approacheth, take a deep breath and prepare to walk forward. Be most certain to start walking before the summit, lest those standing behind thee be not able to accelerate off the escalator in time. Then shall they stand upon thy feet and thou willst surely cry.
11) Do not press the panic button to thy right lest the stairs should come to a shuddering halt sending thee tumbling back from whence thou came. This rather defeateth the point of the exercise thus far.
12) Walk swiftly off the escalator, moving away from the crest with good speed. Do not stop at the very top in search of thy tube ticket, nor to mop thy brow, neither to read any newly-delivered text messages.
13) Congratulations, thou hast successfully ascended to the surface. At this point you may need to read the instruction leaflet 'Instructions on how to use the new-fangled Magic Ticket Gates'.
14) When thy business in London is complete, return thee down the escalator in the same manner. Verily not the same escalator of course, but the other one, the one that moveth downwards.
15) On any subsequent visits, if thou art right brave, thou may now wish to join the ranks of the 'left-walkers'. Ensure that thou art fit enough to walk right to the top without wimping out and joining the rabble on the right again. Hold thy head high, for verily art thou now truly a Londoner.

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twenty london blogs
route 79
mad musings
samuel pepys
richard herring
london rubbish
over your head
rogue semiotics
scorn and noise
in the aquarium
diamond geezer
london bus page
london 2012 blog
the last bus home
london daily photo
random acts of reality
london bloggers tube map

ten london links
poverty map 1899
london map 1827
smoke magazine
urban 75 london
panoramic views
street sensation
london ancestor
hidden london
london pubs
time out

ten east london links
where i live
visit eastside
east end photos
east end history
discover public art
cockney translator
greenwich meridian
tower hamlets history
the real albert square
docklands development

ten london transport links
future transport projects
clive's tube line guides
london underground
abandoned stations
various tube maps
london bus routes
london bus maps
disused stations
london walks