30 October 2010

.Advanced communications - not

Some fairly good examples of 'how not to say it' from the PA system on the Tube (the first three are not new, but are still capable of making me wonder at the thought proceses behind them):

"Please use all available doors" - well, OK, but we'll probably be here until midnight, especially if everyone tries to do this.

"Please use alternate routes" - that doesn't sound like a quick way to get home either...

"Please use all available space" - it's no good, I've tried, but I just can't seem to activate my self-expanding switch.

"The District Line is behind" - behind what?

(Having just left Acton Town on the westbound service) "This is Wood Green" - OK, right line, wrong end (like 20-odd stops away, and getting further by the minute).

"This train is being held here due to a train at Oxford Circus with no movement" - obviously a new model.

This was followed a little later by a very exasperated

"We are still experiencing delays because of this defective train, which is making its way to Liverpool Street where it will be taken out of service AND PUT AWAY IN A SIDING! "- for ever, left up to him, I'd guess.

"Due to a signal failure at Waterloo, the Waterloo & City Line is suspended and a good service is operating on all other lines" - there, I knew it. They don't have enough power to run the whole trainset at once!

And last but certainly not least
"This train will proceed one station at a time" - you don't know how relieved I am to hear that, exciting though it might be to zoom through the seventh dimension over Hammersmith...

25 October 2010

Thoughts on a bring- and-share lunch

We've just had a bring-and-share lunch at work for one of our interns who's leaving us for her first proper job - congratulations, Kirsty, especially in the current museum climate!

It was a suitably good repast, and a quite glorious mixture - it included a cheese board plus a large bunch of grapes, a large whole pineapple, home-made banoffee cakes, coriander and chilli prawns, home-made pizza, crudités and lots of dips, mediterranean bread, strawberry jam doughnuts, and mozzarella and tomato tart. Apart from bread there really wasn't much left at the end! Oh, and the one thing that my colleagues are quite ludicrously unable to resist (even those who aren't that keen on the sweet stuff, or say that they aren't) is chocolate-covered cinder toffee (aka Crunchie bits).

We've now done enough of these indoor picnics (they're only something we've done fairly recently) that I think we're beginning to know what to bring - there doesn't seem to be much need for bread or meat, for example. We still tend to bring too much food, but too much is better than too little, of course - that just means we graze all day, or the overnight staff get an unexpected bonus, or there's enough food to keep us going into lunch next day.

It is, of course, completely luck of the draw as to the balance of what turns up on the table. In the early days I can remember virtually whole meals of cheese, or cake, and last time we had a lot of falafels (boring) - OK, not exactly a problem, but it's so much more enjoyable when it's more varied. What I particularly like about the idea is that it's so equitable - home-made goodies, smart thinking and sharp-eyed shopping are more likely to bring really good results than just throwing money around.

17 October 2010

The Birthweek

As my recent birthday didn't work out all that well, I spread it out over the next eight days - so more of a birthweek than a birthday, really. Not that extensions are unheard of anyway - one or two have gone on for a fortnight, and very enjoyable, too.

Anyway, back to this year's. It was a Monday, although I wondered if it really was the right day, because for one thing, the weather was wrong. It was raining. Hard. This is not allowed on my birthday, as my 'natural' present is fine sunny weather - at worst dry with sunny spells, but more usually the sort of glorious autumn weather we got later in the week. Somebody must have miscounted...

It was also a Tube Strike day: I had to take Harry-the-Cat to the vet first thing. Eight thirty came and went, with no sign of the cab I'd booked. Eventually it arrived three-quarters of an hour late - extra traffic on the roads because of the strike, which I guess is unsurprising. Oh well, I'd warned the vets, and they were being very accommodating, so let's see if we can get through this without any more ado. Part way up the main road, the driver's radio station of choice came up with Credence Clearwater Revival's 'Bad Moon on the Rise'. I smiled at the cheerful tune, as ever, and its combination with the disaster-laden lyrics (earthquakes, lightning, hurricanes, floods etc) until we got to "Hope you have got your things together/ Hope you are quite prepared to die". Now look here, guys, that's enough!

I suppose it may account for the fact that when we got there the driver tried to be helpful and back onto the forecourt so I had less far to carry the basket. Unfortunately, he backed into a lamp post instead...fortunately he was doing virtually nil mph, so no injuries. I was lucky, as I had been about to get out, and wasn't wearing a seat belt at that point. He was not lucky, having got a sizeable dent in the back of his people carrier. Oh well, the rest of the day was uneventful: Keith had the bad luck to be unwell, so we ate nothing fancy by way of food, but he still managed to arrange presents and cards for me, which were doubly appreciated, and I did get some other nice ones - thanks, everyone!

It was an odd week - a South Kensington day on the Tuesday; in at the museum on Wednesday, and lunch with a friend at Nico's Grill (steak sandwiches and chips to die for); and a retirement seminar on the Thursday and Friday (held at the National Liberal Club, which has rather stunning Victorian/ Edwardian interiors; the food's not bad, either, notably the fish and chips). Retirement isn't until next year, but it's as well to get any help offered, I figure, and in the current financial climate I can see next year's event being scaled back somewhat.

Having thus barely seen my colleagues, I went out for lunch on the following Monday with the team I work with. Someone suggested Pellici's (trad caff plus native Italian), which we all like. Even the member of the team who was heavily pregnant with twins was particularly keen to go ("It'll be my last chance to go there for a bit" she predicted, all too accurately), and soon we were all excavating large helpings of steak pie etc - there's a plate under there somewhere, I'm sure! The follow up was that the twins started to arrive the next day - must have been the walk back afterwards...or something energising about steak pie ?

(A squirrel in Bethnal Green Gardens ponders his local menu)

09 October 2010

More time out of the office

Must be something in the air - I'm certainly not seeing that much of my normal working environment at the moment. I was back on the Embankment on Thursday and Friday, and took the opportunity to explore a bit more and take further pictures of Buckingham Gate. I was intrigued by it, as I often am with gates and windows:

Mind, it looks a bit sepulchral from the back, which is how I first saw it, from Buckingham Street:

Altogether more imposing from the front, though:

It was originally the watergate for York House, which was owned at that point by the Villiers family, so yes, clearly designed to indicate that here lived "an enormous swell". And yes, this is the area of the streets that spelled out the name and title of George Villiers Duke of Buckingham - it's a shame that Of Alley got re-named York Place, I say.