« June 2005 | Main | August 2005 »

July 25, 2005

Tube Vigilance

Everyone is supposed to be taking extra care now to make sure they aren't sitting next to a suicide bomber on public transport. I keep meaning to, but always forget, as I have my head stuck in the Metro newspaper and the notion totally disappears. That's not a subtle advert for the fascinating qualities of the Metro though, just my inability to think of two things at once.

But I considered the alternatives, and I think I've decided that what I'm doing is probably helping my sanity, and keeping my stress down. Let's say I spot a young asian-looking man with a rucksack (this is our best guess demographic of a uicide bomber). What will I do?

Do I stand up and point at him and accuse him of trying to kill me? - No. if I do that and I'm right, he'll press the button and kill us all. If I'm wrong then it'll be pretty unpleasant for both of us, and a panicked carriage full of people could be very dangerous.

Another option is to get up and hurriedly walk away and say nothing. There are quite a lot of young asian-looking men with rucksacks on the tube though, and I could spend quite a lot of time walking from carriage to carriage raising my blood pressure. If buy some fluke I happen to get it right, and escape a blast, I'll probably feel guilty the rest of my life that I didn't alert the authorities.

Thirdly I can just sit there and worry, nervously glancing at the man, hoping I'll be OK, working out my options, keeping the panic in.

No, I think I've got it right by default. Read the paper like I've always done, and ignore every other passenger. This is after all the traditional London Underground way.

Posted by se71 at 11:41 AM | Comments (0)

July 22, 2005


Having a job in the City of London, and having been in the finance/consulting industry all my working life, I guess I'm bound to occasionally bump into someone I know. Recently however this really has been a bit bizarre.

Last Friday I was on the Waterloo & City line train going home, and met Tom, who I last worked with about 10 years ago. We worked very closely together for quite a while, and had each other over for dinner and knew partners and children, but inevitably lost touch when we both left the firm.

Then yesterday, I go to lunch with someone I met cycling in Windsor. (who happens to be an IT contractor in the same company I'm at now - another weird coincidence). He's invited an old friend of his, who has invited another friend, who has brought someone called John along.

Turns out John works for the same small company (35 people) where my friend Tom works.

No conclusions - just a bit weird.

Posted by se71 at 01:34 PM | Comments (0)

London Underground Temporary Notice

Originally uploaded by se71.
I took this photo of a sign at Waterloo last night, and wanted to put it into an appropriate Flickr Pool. I couldn't find one I liked, so I thought I'd see what the process of setting one up was.

The result is here.

Posted by se71 at 01:19 PM | Comments (0)

July 15, 2005


Originally uploaded by se71.
Stella have done it again, or have I missed one in the meantime. It's an advert with lots of movie references, some easy, some hard.

I like these.

But come on stella, can't we have a high resolution one on your website sometime!

Posted by se71 at 10:47 AM | Comments (0)

July 14, 2005


I feel it is an accomplishment worth noting still, sadly, but I finished the Daily Telegraph Crossword yesterday again. Number 24,730.

This time it took the whole day. I did the last third on the train home by what felt like sheer willpower :-)

Posted by se71 at 05:15 PM | Comments (0)

July 11, 2005


Someone on a mailing list very kindly pointed me to Constrained this morning.

I liked it so much, I decided to try my hand at some writing.

The results are here

The idea is that you write a story under some very strict rules. This forces you to think in a way you might not have done before, and helps the creative process. It works, and I like my two efforts I've done today.

Posted by se71 at 04:23 PM | Comments (0)

July 08, 2005

London 7/7/5

Most everyone with a blog will be writing something about this, and I'm reluctant to be seen as just adding my own 2p to the throng of information. However my blog is 90% for me, and I want to write down my experiences so that I can remember them in years to come. This is not particularly interesting except to me.

The news of the 'power surge' on the London Underground travelled round my office like wildfire. Everyone was concerned obviously whether anyone had been hurt, but mostly they were worried about the effect it would have on their journey home that evening.

The second incident had a much more serious impact. Now it was obvious that this was a bomb attack. Every monitor was now showing a news site as people looked for updates. I work very near Moorgate tube station, and could see police out of the window closing down the entrance, and fire engines going past.

BBC News Online was slow off the mark with information - cnn.com was better. The best news though was my MP3 player/radio which I tuned to BBC London 94.9 FM for the John Gaunt show. This is a live phone in show, and it really worked. John Gaunt is a fantastic presenter and he's been thrown in at the deep end in crises situations like this before.

My mother was on a coach coming down to London, and luckily she has a mobile phone. I managed to contact her and tell her I was OK, and that her journey would probably not go to plan today, before Vodafone shut down the network. I was angry that this happened, do the emergency services really need our airwaves? A large reason for owning a mobile is to be able to contact friends and family in emergencies, and I feel let down that this was impossible for several hours. I talked to my friends and sister on MSN Messenger, which thankfully was unaffected all day.

I talked to a lady in my office who had just arived She had been on the underground and had heard the first blast. People had been annoyed - another London Underground delay, just one of many. She had then taken another tube and a bus to get to Moorgate. When she got here and realised that her second two journeys could have cost her her life, and had been preventable, she was really angry. why the cover story about power problems? This must be in the government's disaster rule book to stop pandemonium. I think this is a mistake, a total immediate shutdown of all transport and some honesty from the authorities is in order. This won't work next time.

Now we knew it was terrorism, my first thought was that it was a coordinated simultaneous attack on the tube, and that it was now over. When the news of the bus came in I had to revise this. Things really got serious and scary then. The first hand account of the roof blowing off a bus took the attack into the streets, now no one was safe. The fire warden for our floor came along and closed all the window blinds - this is standard practice in case a bomb goes off and sprays the office with broken glass and should protect us. Sitting by a window I did have thoughts that this might not be the best place to be.

A local conference room was opened up and BBC News 24 was playing on a big screen in there. Work continued, but people drifted in and out to watch, epecially the broadcasts from the House of Commons, and the statements from Tony Blair at the G8 conference.

I was pleased and touched that many friends from overseas checked in with me by MSN and email during the day to make sure I was OK. I heard in the afternoon that my mother's coach had decided to turn around and go back up north. Luckily my brother was nearby and he picked her up. Now I only had to worry about getting myself home.

News reports, which at one point claimed six tube blasts and three busses, gradually settled on lower numbers. The number of reported dead was two for a long time, then jumped to 33. The photos of the bus had come through at this stage - I think this image will be the lasting one. After a few hours mainline services were reported as getting back to normal, and a lot of people started to head home. My workplace announced that everyone should go home, and not come in on Friday unless they had essential work.

I hung on until 5pm, and not really wanting to change my plans for the day, decided to meet my sister in Leicester Square to maybe see a film - we thought War of the Worlds would be appropriate, and not too tasteless. I left and walked up through the city past St Pauls, Fleet St, and Covent Garden. People were very calm, I saw a few jogging home, some brave souls were on the busses which had by now reappeared. I wasn't feeling that foolhardy. Leicester Square was nearly deserted however and all the cinemas were closed. It was kind of nice to enjoy a summer afternoon without the crowds. Meeting my sister, and finding one of the few open pubs, we had a drink at a pavement side table and reflected on the day. Another peaceful walk too us to Waterloo, and the train out of London was quiet and very civilised.

This morning, the news said that London transport, apart from the lines directly affected yesterday, was back to normal. Normally it's heaving and hot and smelly, but the overground and the Waterloo-City line were actually very pleasant indeed - I've never seen them so quiet. I did check the platform for suspicious items, and also gave my fellow passengers a quick once over. I'm sure they did the same to me.

Company security decided to search my bag and look closely at my ID, understandable of course, but the words bolted, horse and stable-door immediately sprang to mind. Everyone else seems to have taken the advice and stayed at home, so I'm sitting here in a dark, empty office (motion controlled lights go off if I don't get up and walk around every 5 minutes). I think I'll go to the gym later, and get off home fairly early.

Posted by se71 at 09:01 AM | Comments (0)


I think people have started calling it 7/7 already.

At least the US won't be able to mangle the day and month this time.

More later.

Posted by se71 at 08:42 AM | Comments (0)

July 06, 2005

Best Buy

The imminent 'death' of my electric/rehargeable razor has been making me think about what my best buy over the years has been. I bought this Phillips razor nearly teenty years ago, and have used it almost every day since. I have to admit that it's not as sharp as it used to be (like it's owner - I know), and the charge doesn't last as long, and sadly someone knocked it off the shelf recently and broke off the little sideburn trimmer. But in the best buy standings, it's right up there.

We also have in the bedroom in our house a portable colour TV, also of a similar vintage. This gets watched for an hour or two occasionally. No remote control - can anyone under 20 remember when TVs didn't have an infrared zapper! I'll bet the new digital TVs we'll all have to have soon won't have such a good shelf life (cue rant on why can't they leave the analogue spectrum alone)

My car is 10 years old, and didn't cost me a lot. It's needed fairly hefty repairs recently so I'm not putting it in the bet buy list just yet.

I have a set of wine glasses from ASDA, 12 years old, cost £4 for the four and only one is missing (presumed smashed by SO who won't admit it). The dishwasher doesn't seem to affect them adversely, whereas much more expensive glasses have gotten too scratched. Used daily :-)

But the best buy I've thought of so far is a plastic kitchen clock. Bought from a Delboy type in a temporary shop by Tottenham Court Road Tube Station about 15 years ago for 20p. It's still going strong, and keeping good time, and only needs a new Duracell every two or three years.

Update: All my ASDA wine glasses are now broken - the last one went on Saturday (6/3/6) with an over zealous arm wave from my daughter.

Posted by se71 at 11:55 AM | Comments (0)

July 04, 2005

Alice Munro - Dance Of The Happy Shades

Alice Munro - Dance Of The Happy Shades

Often described as the best short story writer in the world, I had really high hope for this collection. Happily, they weren't completely dashed, though I did start to get a little bored by the stories mostly being set in the same time and place, and by the pace.

This collection from 1974 seems to draw on the simpler post war days of small town America. A young girl has a new dress made for her by her mother to go to a dance. She is full of self doubt about whether any boy will ask her. She discovers something about herself and grows up a little that evening. An old woman dreams of seeing her son, but thousands of miles away in a small convenience store with her daughter and granddaughter on a seldom driven road. A mother copes with a tragic accident where her baby boy is scalded when he is left alone while she visits a neighbour.

There is a lot about young people coming of age. There is something about simple societies concealing individual's complex emotions. There are stories that don't really have much of a point at all, but just describe a small incident. They usually have some kind of transition, a moment when a person has an idea that changes them, or has a realisation of something they should have known all along.

The writing is very calm, measured and I can't fault the quality of these stories in isolation. I was hoping for a little more variety, and maybe a few more surprises - there are some though. Perhaps this collection is meant to feel like everything is taking place at once in the same town (it is mentioned by name a few times in different stories). Maybe other collections will show that the writer does have a larger canvas to paint on. I hope so.

Posted by se71 at 01:47 PM | Comments (0)


I learnt to juggle with three balls a few years back. It’s not too hard really and I can do a few tricks like throwing a ball over my shoulder and catching it behind my back. It did take hours of patient practice, and I watched TV whilst doing it. Actually, it was around the time that “Star Trek – The Next Generation” started on TV, and so juggling and that program are linked in my mind.

But though I spent many hours trying, three clubs or four balls was beyond me. Maybe it’s time to set a new goal for this!

Posted by se71 at 11:46 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


I bought a DVD/HD recorder, which is very cool. I retrieved my old Hi-8 camcorder and all the tapes, and started recording them to the hard disk. I’m a bit upset by the poor quality of some of it, though I’m not sure I’m surprised. It is 12 years old and has just been sitting in a cupboard all that time suffering the temperature changes and time deterioration. Perhaps the heads on the camera could be cleaned, that might help.

Anyway, next problem is the quality setting on the DVD recorder. High quality allows one hour of film to go to a DVD. Normal quality allows 2 hours. Wonder if the source material merits the high setting. It will double the number of disks I need. Annoyingly most of my early tapes are 90 minutes long, so I think normal setting will be best so that I can stick to one DVD-R per tape, which will make the whole procedure more simple.

Made one DVD-R as a test and it looks great actually.

Posted by se71 at 10:27 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 01, 2005

Stella Film Ad

Originally uploaded by se71.
Stella Artois have a nice ad in the paper today. I don't have a handy A3 scanner, so I took a photo of it.

It shows a park, and any film buff will instantly spot that it's not quite a normal scene.

So far I've spotted at least eight different film references - I'll not spoil it for you, I'll come back in a few days and put them all in, but if you want to add notes to it that'd be fine.

Posted by se71 at 11:34 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack