Category Archives: Miscellaneous

The Last Commute

So this is it. The last time to gather up my bike keys and my staff pass, the last time to leave the house and forget my phone, and miss the sweet spot at the Vauxhall Cross lights. The last time to buy a ticket and wonder how SWT can take less than a week to install three new ticket machines and then more than a month to make them do anything useful, like sell a ticket. The last spot of banter with the newspaper stand guys and the last time to try and exit the waiting room behind a woman who stops dead, blocking the door, waiting to see when the next train is. The last time to stand well back from the platform edge as the approaching train is not stopping at this station. The last last minute platform alteration. The last time spent pointedly wondering if my fellow passenger might move his bag, or his feet, or his elbow from my space. The last time wondering why the young man at Barnes feels the need to commute in surgical gloves (and the first, actually – is there some dreadful new contagious disease I’m not aware of?) The last sprint up the Kew Bridge stairs.

The last time rounding the corner into the Vauxhall underpass and greeting my still-intact bike with a sigh of relief. The last ‘no thanks’ to the freebie paper-monger, still ridiculously cheerful after freebie paper-monging for more than a year now. The last ride home. The last dodged pigeon. The last lock up.

Three months after I officially quit my job, I have finally stopped work. well sort of. And to reinforce my resolve, next week I’m moving to Scotland. You can follow my adventures here

Disgruntled Commuter has left the building


First we Quit our Jobs…

I have a little confession to make.

Nearly three months ago, I handed in my notice at work, and neglected to find myself any other job. I have decided to become a writer, you see, a proper, full-time one. It may or may not work out but we’ve got enough saved up to keep us going for a couple of years before we’re forced back to the nine-to-five.

Now, alert readers will have spotted the flaw here. One of the drawbacks of not having a full time job – indeed, I think it may be the only drawback – is that it makes it very difficult to keep up writing a daily entry in a blog about commuting. Which means that posting may become a little unreliable here in the future. As in Silverlink in a snowstorm, or the Circle line during engineering works – that sort of level of service. There may well still be postings: I’ve got to fulfil this challenge, for a start, and I’m sure that wherever I go, my commitment to using public transport will ensure that I’ve got plenty to feel disgruntled about. But not every day. Not even every week.

At some point, when I have thought of a suitable subject, I may well start another blog. I will let you know if that happens, you can be sure. Meanwhile if you have any suggestions, let me know.

Disgruntled Commuter is Still Unwell

Those checking in excitedly for another installment of the bike air horn adventure will just have to wait as I am still under the weather and have now apparently pulled a muscle through incessant coughing.

Folks, let this be a reminder to you to always stretch and warm up thoroughly before engaging in any sporting activity such as running, tennis and, er, coughing up a lung.

2007 and All That

In retrospect I should have guessed today’s journey was going to be quiet when I got to the station and found a spider busy building a web across the bike racks. No queues for the ticket machines, no news stand, no coffee stall, no passengers, no announcements but fortunately some trains (short ones, but with a grand total of ten passengers, hardly worth raising a sweat about). No readers, either, but that’s nothing new. And consequently, nothing to blog about.

I was going to write one of those ‘year in review’ posts that proper bloggers do, but I’m sure it was all tedious enough the first time around, and I couldn’t really be bothered. Except to award Eurostar the prize for best excuse EVER for ‘wild boar on the track’. Come on SouthWest Trains, do try to keep up.

And so I’ll leave you with nothing but my best wishes for the New Year. Me, I’ll be seeing it in my bedroom where – if I lie on the floor and peer up through the left hand window – I can see the London Eye and hence, I’m told, the fireworks. Given that my festive cold is currently entering its tenth day with no sign of letting up in either its virulence nor the inventiveness of its symptoms (today’s special: sore ribs with a side order of hacking cough), that’s about as much excitement as I can currently stand.

Happy New Year, one and all, and in 2008 may all your trains be long ones, and all your coaches quiet ones, and all your seats be window ones, facing the engine.

Hung. Over.

Work Christmas dinner. Late out. Late home. Late to bed. Too much drunk. Don’t sleep well. Wake up. Still dark. Peer at watch. 6:45. Oh help. Overslept. Late to work! Must get up. Out of bed. Dressing gown on. Cold hallway. Light on. Check watch. 5:45. Back to bed.

Sometimes it’s those unexpected ‘extra’ half hours of sleep that are the sweetest…

Let them Eat Rich Teas

Cycling into Vauxhall the other day I noticed that the police had replaced their old mystery vehicle in Vauxhall Spring Park with a newer, shinier one. This one says ‘Police Conference Unit’on the side – no doubt part of Lambeth Police’s mission to bring meetings to those benighted parts of South East London that have never known the joys of hearing the words ‘Any other business?’ For after all, in these benighted days, who could argue with the idea of more meetings?*

And just think of the benefits to the modern day copper of a mobile conference unit. Too busy catching criminals, or dealing with a major security alert at Vauxhall station to attend your regular monthly management meeting? No problem. The meeting will come to you. And no doubt when they’ve worked through the last of the actions on the agenda, and approved the minutes for all to see, it will trundle off into the sunset to bring mild tedium and nasty biscuits to another dark corner of the borough.

So far, though, it’s been there three days. That’s one hell of a meeting. Do you think we should send in more biscuits?

*don’t answer that.

Really Suffering in Silence

Lost: one voice, please return if found.

I think the other half is rather enjoying the quiet…

Disgruntled Commuter is Unwell

As in properly unwell, not a euphemism for being drunk and incapable.

Normal service will resume tomorrow.

More Yoof

We have two sandwich students at work these days and very lovely they are too. One of them travels to work on the train like a normal person. The other one commutes in on his skateboard.

Words cannot express how old this makes me feel.

More Mond’oh Morning Blues

I am coming to the conclusion that there are some days when I shouldn’t be allowed out on my own, and Monday – any Monday – is one of them. Take today, when I woke up early, and instantly remembered there was some stuff I needed to put together to take into work this week. I was pretty pleased with my powers of recall, up until the point where I got to Vauxhall station and realised that this feat of memory had entirely over-written the normal instruction I have in that bit of my brain on a Monday which is to remember to take my oyster card out of whatever jacket I was wearing over the weekend and put it into the jacket I was wearing to work. Too late to go back and get it, so I decided to take the hit and buy another ticket today.

Which of course made it an excellent day (what with everyone else wanting to renew their tickets as well) for SWT to have put up signs warning people that none of their machines was taking cards. The guy in front of me – ignoring the girl from SWT who was busy warning customers about this – paid by card anyway and succeeded. I – having already queued up to take cash out – then attempted to pay by card and failed. I left the poor SWT employee putting up and taking down the ‘cash only’ signs rather in the manner of an Irishman* telling a motorist if his indicators were working or not. I think she was having a bit of a Monday-ish day herself. Still, I did at least manage to remember to get on the train this time. And for that small mercy, much thanks.

*Or Cork man or Kerry man or blonde – it’s pick your own prejudice week here on Disgruntled Commuter