Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Strange Station Announcement

Announcement just heard:

"Would any passengers for; and Abbey Wood, please make their way to the rear of the station."

Where am I?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Not what was planned

This evening England are to play Mexico in a 'friendly' football match at Wembley Stadium.

Those who are in the know will often choose to travel from central London to Wembley via Marylebone Station.

Chiltern Railways have, this evening, been affected by Signalling problems at Leamington Spa. Unfortunately the same sort of problem is now affecting equipment in the Wembley area.

There do appear to be a small number of train cancellations. London bound trains seem to have delays of about 10 minutes, while Northbound services seem to be worse, at about 25 minutes.

I am not there, but I don't suppose that Marylebone is a sea of tranquility at the moment.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Katla is not erupting

As of 0532 GMT this morning, the Icelandic Met Office stated
"Katla is NOT erupting and there are NO indications that Katla is about to erupt."
Clear enough?

Whatever they say, accurate long term planning for airlines that fly through European airs space will be a little tricky for a while.

Hat Tip to Uncle Bill

Nails anyone?

The Rugby Union team that I support won the Guinness Premiership semi-final on Sunday. Saracens beat Northampton Away by 21 points to 19.

If I were someone who chewed my fingernails, then I would have none left. The game was a scintillating game of rugby that saw two evenly matched teams show off all that is good about the game. I got home with a bit of a sore throat.

Subsequent to the match, and following an incident eight days before at Leicester, Director of Rugby Brendan Venter has been handed a 14 week touchline ban by the RFU. This is to be appealed. The full Saracens statement may be read here. The club is appealing.

There was a second hearing in which Schalk Brits was reprimanded and warned as to his future conduct by a Rugby Football Union disciplinary panel. This is good news - It is probably fair to say that Saracens go into the Final as second-favourites, so the fact that Brits is available to play is a relief. He has made a fantastic contribution to the Saracens since he arrived at the club and now has a week and a half to work with the team to finish preparations for the Final.

I shall now jump in the car to drive to Twickenham - I may have to consider staying over a week on Saturday, just in case a sherbert or two are required. Either that, or go the long way round by train. Weekday rush hour on the M25 followed by South West Trains or the Piccadilly Line (to be decided).... Yumm!

Come on you Sarries! Or should that be "way-a/Lay-o, Lay-o, Lay-o"?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Changing the character of the game

I am a Saracens season ticket holder. We have an important match against Northampton on Sunday - if we win, we will be in the Guinness Premiership Final at Twickenham at the end of the month. I hope Saracens do well.

Last weekend, Saracens played Leicester away, and won. The win was a bit of a surprise to many. I wasn't at the match, but imagine that the Leicester supporters were not happy that their team had lost.

There were a couple of incidents at the match. The RFU have charged the Saracens Director of Rugby with ‘pushing a lady supporter from Leicester RFC’ and with ‘conduct prejudicial to the interests of the Union and/or the Game’. Brendan Venter, the Director of Rugby, is clearly a man of some passion who has been responsible in a distinct uplift in results since arriving at the club.

In my experience, Mr Venter is however a miserable git - I sat about five seats away from him at one away match and it was like sitting near a man with his own personal thunder cloud. It was not a pleasurable experience - there was certainly no bon-homie.

Sarcens have but out a statement relating to the RFU charges, which may be read in full here. It reads well and is nicely polished and full of corporate spin.

One paragraph stands out:
“Brendan was put in an impossible situation at Leicester. Imagine Arsenal playing at Stamford Bridge, and Arsene Wenger being made to watch the game from a seat in the midst of passionate Chelsea season-ticket holders. It would not happen in football, yet that is exactly what happened on Saturday."
Yes, that's the problem. Rugby isn't football. Supporters from opposing sides sit with each other. We can drink beer in our seats and yet remain reasonable human beings.

Clearly as a Director of Rugby Mr Venter has to bring out the best in his players, usually involving some aggression and adrenaline. Mr Venter, leave it on the pitch. We do not want the game of Rugby Union going the way of professional football, where the behaviour of some supporters means that those from opposing teams are segregated. It would totally change the character of the game.

I would hope that rugby clubs would deal with opposing team officials with the utmost courtesy when seating their guests - but it is always down to the individual to behave appropriately. If someone can't stand the heat, then they should get out of the kitchen. It's a lot quieter in the car park.

Sorry. Had to get that off my chest. I am now running late.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A Quotation

"The difference between a misfortune and a calamity is this: If Gladstone fell into the Thames, it would be a misfortune. But if someone dragged him out again, that would be a calamity."

Benjamin Disraeli

Saturday, May 08, 2010

2010 General Election - Number Crunching

Following Thursday's General Election in the UK, there will no doubt be an ongoing debate about reform of the 'First Past the Post' voting system.

I have extracted the following two tables which aim to show;

(1) The Number of votes / eligible voters per constituency


(2) The number of votes it took for each party to obtain each seat.

Two observations:
  • The number of electors per constituency is just a number - I don't think my table proves anything, as individual seats range from about 22,500 to as much as 105,000. Such discrepancies cannot be right.
  • I absolutely understand why Liberal Democrat voters might feel hacked off.
The arguments can go any way you like - I have neither the will, nor the knowledge, to write a coherent argument either for change or for the status quo.

For me, even acknowledging the view of the Liberal Democrats is an attempt at partisan rehabilitation.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

A true story

Two of my neighbours originally came from a country in the southern hemisphere.

While stood at the station this morning, one of them told me that in one local election, his mother did not vote.

The election was a dead heat.

Please don't let the toss of a coin decide who is to be your next Member of Parliament.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Volcanic Ash - The Return

According to RTE, Irish airspace (affecting airports, not the high bit) will close from 7 am tomorrow, 4th May 2010.

The Outer Hebrides are apparently already affected.

As these latest closures are in line with the new internationally agreed guidelines, one can only assume that the ash must be a bit more dense than last time.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Beaconsfield on a Saturday morning

Someone was seriously assaulted late last night on or near the Northbound platform at Beaconsfield station.

It must be bad because a large area of the platform is taped off with various colours of police tape, with the British Transport police in attendance with cameras etc etc. I do hope that the victim recovers. Highly unusual thing to happen for the area.

As of an hour ago trains were stopping, though taxis were picking up and dropping off by the London bound platform.


While walking over the footbridge, I noticed that someone seems to have been having a good try at nicking the lead from the roof of the station. I have no idea whether this is new damage or old - whatever, it can't be good for the integrity of the station roof.


It may not have passed your notice that I use Chiltern Railways a lot. I do this because I live a little way out in rural Buckinghamshire and my annual season ticket enables me to let the train take the strain without spending more than I already do.

The only problem with this is that my ticket does not work the barriers at all stations, because Chiltern do not seem to be willing to upgrade the software that enables them to recognise that my ticket is valid, but being used at an intermediate station.

I've never had this problem at Beaconsfield till now.... As of this morning my ticket will no longer open the barriers there. This is going to be a nuisance for me.... I guess the station staff will just get to know me.