A few random thoughts….



I was waiting for a tube train at Stockwell on Saturday when the tannoy blasted into life and like the school teacher in Peanuts cartoons blared out BlahdeblahblahblahVictoriablahblahsonthelineblahblahblah.

Puzzled looks abound and we all agreed that there was a person on the tracks somewhere on the Victoria Line.


Slowly people strained to piece the message together as this was repeated a few times.

Then a prerecorded announcement was played.

Due to a person on the tracks, all services on the Victoria Line between….

Which was heralded by “ohhh”, and “ahhh” from the passengers as we made our way out and on to the buses.

As much as it is nice to have a bit of humanity in the system, employing people who patently don’t have the necessary ability to speak clearly over a tannoy is a bit silly.

It’s not the first time I have strained to understand a tannoy announcement at a tube station and there is undeniably a skill in using one. However, as a pre-recorded version existed, spoken by a professional — just use it.

I am a great believer in automating processes where possible to leave the human element more time to be more productive elsewhere, and here is an example where a pre-automated, and vastly superior version existed.

Much time wasting around trying to figure what was going on could have been avoided.

Xmas Trees

As I go out for walks, I occasionally see a discarded Christmas tree on the streets, and it looks such a sad sight.

Not just that the local council probably have a recycling facility available, and the former owner was too lazy to even use that.

No, it’s the way something that for a few weeks had given such pleasure and happiness in a home has been casually discarded without even a thought about what it did for the people who owned it.

Yes, it’s just a tree, and a dead one at that, but there is something missing when a person can take joy and pleasure from something, then seemingly throw it away without even a second thought.

I sometimes wonder how anyone can abandon a loved pet, and here, in a way is a loved tree being casually dumped.

At least they took the decorations off first.


What a remarkable sound they make.

Get off the train to Brighton, or any seaside town and the seagull is the herald that greets you. It cries out the delights of sand, and sea, and chips, and fun, and delight.

But, walk a few miles along the coast, or along the Thames estuary, away from the funfairs, and that same bird is the sound of desolation, of despair, of decay.

I notice it here in London, out by Silvertown, the bird is the sound of the waste and ruin of the area. By Canary Wharf, they are fattened sounds of rich docks and a pleasant reminder of how the area is offices, but also delightfully close to nature.

I can’t think of any other bird that can emit a single cry that somehow evokes such powerful, yet opposite emotions.




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  1. My local council a) picks up your old tree from your doorstep and b) sent a leaflet round to tell everyone this.

    Given this, the number of trees dumped in random places is – frankly – ridiculous.

  2. Daniel Tonks says:

    Living in Portsmouth, the absence of Seagulls (and the Hovercraft) is one of the most obvious homesicknessy things I notice when I am away. Getting better as I spend a lot of time in Spalding now (coincidentally, I was travelling back home on the day of the Victoria Line one-under, assuming this was last Monday, and ended up walking in the rain to Euston, annoying but nothing compared to whatever this individuals family is going through) I am getting used to being without that sound, but whilst they may evoke those emotions in you, they evoke home for me.

  3. Greg Tingey says:

    Tannoy on the UndergrounD … well …
    Much too often, much too loud, much too repetitive & usually 150% unnecessary.
    So, when an important announcement is made [ as above ] you have to go around 3 or 4 times.
    I wonder how long befoore LUL station staff, & then commuters start showing up with permanent hearing loss, baecause of the overzealous ranting?

    • Simon says:

      The incessant nagging from station announcements both under- and overground reminds me why I never got married.

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