Tuesday, 30 January 2007

Mind The Gap

You might not know this about me, but I like lists. And I like random facts. And I like lists of random facts. Here are some all about the London Underground. (I use 'facts' in the loosest sense of the term. In other words, they may be made up, such is the wonder of the interweb).

  • There is only one tube station name which does not have any letters of the word "mackerel" in it - St John's Wood.
  • There are only two tube stations which have all five vowels in them - Mansion House and South Ealing.
  • Considering there are 287 tube stations, things 1 and 2 are quite surprising.
  • Chancery Lane has the shortest escalator on the system - 50 steps.
  • Travelling on the tube for 40 minutes is the equivalent of smoking two cigarettes - so save yourself a packet, all you smokers and get on the tube more often.
  • The shortest distance between tube stations is Leicester Square and Covent Garden on the Piccadilly line - 0.16 miles. Travel between these stations paid for by a cash ticket costs £25 per mile (£4 ticket) in 2007.
  • The most popular route for tourists is Leicester Square to Covent Garden on the Piccadilly line.
  • Northfields station on the Piccadilly line was the first to use kestrels and hawks to kill pigeons and stop them setting up homes in stations.
  • The Central line covers the longest route - from West Ruislip to Epping you will travel 34 miles without changing.
  • The Waterloo and City line covers the shortest route - 2 kilometres, but considering it only covers two stations - Waterloo and Bank, it doesn't take Stephen Hawkins to work that one out.
  • The oldest tube line in the world is the Metropolitan line. It opened on the 10th January 1863.
  • Tube carriages originally had no windows and buttoned upholstery and were nicknamed "padded cells". No change there then.
  • Men have to sit with their legs apart when travelling on the tube. This is due to special magnetic fibres on the upholstery of the seats which interacts with testosterone to provide an antimagnetic outward force.
  • Julian Lloyd Webber, son of Andrew Lloyd Webber, was London Underground's first official busker.
  • More of the London Underground is open than in a tunnel.
  • Out of the 287 stations, only 29 are south of the river Thames.
  • The peak hour for tube suicides is 11am.
  • All 409 escalators do the equivalent of two round the world trips every week.
  • Gladstone and Dr Barnado were the only people to ever have their coffins transported by tube.
  • Angel has Western Europe's longest escalator - 318 steps.
  • The air in the underground is on average 10°C hotter than the air on the surface.
  • People who commit suicide by throwing themselves under tube are called "one-unders". In New York they are known as "track pizza". Choose your preference.
  • Green grapes cause more accidents on the London Underground than banana skins.
  • Anthea Turner and her sister Wendy have written a series of children's books about mice living on the London Underground. An estimated half a million mice live in the Underground system so that should keep them both busy for a while.
  • The Gappe is a little known bird/bat like creature, which only tube announcers can see and we are often told to mind them.
  • Victoria and King's Cross record the highest number of tube suicides each year. This isn't surprising as Victoria is the tube's busiest station with 85 million passengers each year and King's Cross has 70 million passengers each year.
  • The Cadbury's Whole Nut chocolate bar is the biggest seller in the chocolate machines at tube stations.
  • A fragrance called "Madeleine" was introduced at St James Park, Euston and Piccadilly station in an effort to make the tube smell better on 23rd March 2001. It was taken out of action on 24th March 2001 as it was making people feel sick.
  • Bethnal Green was used as an air raid shelter during World War II before it opened to passengers in 1946.
  • The Jubilee Line is the only line that intersects all others. The District Line meets all other lines except the Metropolitan Line—which it misses by approximately 20 m at Aldgate.
  • The East London Line is the only line without a station in zone one.
  • The return journey from King's Cross St Pancras and Euston and back again can be made travelling only in nominally "northbound" trains. The northbound Northern Line runs from King's Cross to Euston and the northbound Victoria Line runs from Euston to King's Cross. It is also possible to make the same round trip on "southbound" trains only.


Tuesday, 23 January 2007

War on Clutter

I'm about to move house (the gentrification of nearby neighbourhoods has pushed up property prices, so we're having to move further out into the sticks. It was obvious this would happen when the local Iceland closed it's doors and turned into a massive organic superstore), and so I've been trying to ruthlessly clear out all the clutter I've accumulated over the last few years. I've been trying to purge some of my books. Book collections are weird things. There are a small number of books that are my favourite and my best and I will read them more than once over the course of my life. Other books I will never read again, despite having thoroughly enjoyed them. And there are some books that were a struggle to read, and whilst I may have ultimately enjoyed them, I will never ever dream of re-reading them. So why do they continue to occupy space and collect dust on my shelves? Because I want the world (or whoever is lucky enough to be invited over) to see my books and nod with approval at the heavy tomes that grace the shelves. I want them to see what weighty, worthy literature I read, and think to themselves: wow, what an intelligent being.

Well, this is 2007, and I'm waging War on Clutter. I'm giving away all the books I'm never going to read again. I'm might even release them into the wild. But before I do, so that I can get the last moment of satisfaction, knowing that I have marvellous taste in literature, I'm going to list these books right here. All in the name of closure.

Cold Mountain – Charles Frazier

She's come undone – Wally Lamb

Veronika decides to die – Paul Coelho

Little alters everywhere – Rebecca Wells

Song of Solomon – Toni Morrison

The girl at the Lion D'Or – Sebastian Faulks

The Mermaids and the Drunks – Ben Richards

Out – Natsuo Kirino

Love in the time of cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Surfacing – Margaret Atwood

Omerta – Mario Puzio

The Flood – David Maine

Lady Oracle – Margaret Atwood

The World Unseen – Shamim Sarif

Goddess: The secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe – Anthony Summers (I'm kinda loathe to throw this last one away as I lugged it all the way back from Japan, but there's no way I'm going to read it again, so it has to go.)


Saturday, 20 January 2007

Stuff that I’ve found today under my bed

  • 8 books that I'm halfway through reading
  • 2 scarves that I'm halfway through knitting
  • 2 letters to Kay that I've never sent (one is dated May 2005)
  • A letter to Lucy that is fully addressed and has a stamp on it but has never made its way to a postbox.
  • 2 postcards of Keele University
  • A DS game that I borrowed and thought I'd lost
  • Countless receipts, ticket stubs, tissues, and plasters (not used ones – I'm not THAT gross)
  • 8 different letter writing sets
  • Unopened credit card statements
  • Some steel wool pan scourers
  • 3 pairs of gloves
  • A recipe for a kick-ass chocolate cake that I thought I'd lost
  • Some Kenyan shillings
  • An old cassette tape of Nik and I when we were young singing nursery rhymes. Some classics: Head shoulders knees and toes, 2 little dickey birds, London Bridge is falling down, Bla bla plab ship, and some Chinese ones and Vietnamese ones too. It's mainly Nik singing and me being the clown in the background. And Anh crying a bit every now and then. And me constantly asking in Chinese why there's no sound coming from the stereo. When speaking English we have such strong Chinese accents! We sound like our mother!

I think the last find has made it all worthwhile. I've now got to find a way to transfer the tape to cd. It's quite old, and the tape's actually broken in one place and sellotaped back together…!

There's one part of the tape where Nik's singing and I'm just playing races on my own in the background. I always was able to create my own entertainment when there's dull stuff going on.

Tuesday, 16 January 2007

Kindred spirits

TV characters who have also been unemployed:

Monica from Friends

Chandler from Friends

Phoebe from Friends

Ross from Friends

Joey from Friends

Rachel from Friends

Egg from This Life

The whole cast of Shameless

Homer Simpson

If anyone has anymore to add, feel free.