Adventures in rail travel

Or, how to play nicely when it comes to sharing space on the train.

On the train this morning I found an aisle seat at a table. There was a guy sat next to me in the window seat, and opposite me another guy who was making use of the window seat next to him for his bag.

The train was getting full, but when it pulled out of the station it was clear that everyone in our carriage had got a seat.

Five minutes later the train pulled into the next station. The man opposite started huffing and shuffling his stuff around, fiddling with his laptop bag as people boarded, giving every impression that he was about to shift his bag and move over to the window seat to make room for other passengers.

The train set off again, our friend stopped faffing with his bag and sat back.

Until the next station, where a repeat of the same situation happened – he moved papers around, zippped and unzipped his bag, and once again, gave a plausible impression of someone just about to move.

Except he didn’t, as the passengers either shuffled past or took up space in the vestibule at the end of the carriage.

Look. Just move into the window seat. Make room for the other poor souls forced to spend twenty minutes together on the morning commute. Is it too much to ask?

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Free from…

But I want my tiffin to be FULL of tiffin, not free from tiffin.

Tiffinless tiffin seems rather pointless, though it is made with belgian[1] chocolate…

[1] shouldn’t that be Belgian chocolate?

Mind the… gap?

I’m intrigued by signs. The other week I was listening to a fantastic episode of the 99% Invisible podcast, featuring Scott McCloud talking about making comics. In it, Scott talks about signs and how often they’re really badly designed. Coming from a comics background where the aim is to give the reader a clear understanding of what’s going on, he has lots of interesting things to say on the subject.

It also made me think about the sign in the photo. It’s on the inside of the train doors I catch on my daily commute, and I’d never really given it much thought until listening to Scott.

“Mind the gap” is useful advice, and fairly standard on trains, especially the Tube in London. The graphic which goes with it though is an odd choice. That’s not really a gap, is it? It’s more of a step. In which case ‘”Mind the step” would be a more apt description.

Anyway. These are the thoughts which go through my head. You should definitely check out 99% Invisible – it’s a fantastic podcast. You never know quite what you’re going to get, but you will walk away having learned something about the world.

Right, I’m off to investigate Scott’s book, Understanding Comics. Anyone read it?

Are you from here?

Waiting at the crossing on the way up to work yesterday, a woman approached me.

“Excuse me,” she said. “Are you from Leeds?”

A few answers immediately came to mind.

No, I’m from Newcastle originally.

No, I live in Wakefield.

Then the penny dropped. She was lost and looking for some help.

“Yes, I am. Can I help?”

Turns out she was looking for Albion Street, which may happened to be over the road. But it got me thinking.

Whilst I’m not *from* Leeds, I’ve lived here or hereabouts since I came to university in 1989. I’ve lived here longer than I ever lived anywhere else.

So yes, I guess I am from here.

Where are you from?

Music

Dude, if I can hear the music you’re listening to on your headphones over the music I’m listening to on mine, yours is too loud.

Just sayin’

#CarriageCharacters 

new starts

A new start, a fresh page. Musings on life, the universe and… oh wait. That’s already been done.

Right then. Random ramblings from the inner workings of my febrile mind fuelled almost entirely by tea.

Yes, this blog used to be about tea. Tea is awesome. There seem to be a plethora of coffee shops on nearly every corner these days, but no equivalent tea emporia. Oh sure, you can buy a cup of tea at Starbucks or Costa, but it’s inevitably a teabag-inna-mug, or plonked in an all-too-small teapot (in the case of the aforementioned Costa) with not *quite* enough hot water to fill the all-important second cup.

There’s a posh tea shop in Leeds called Le Chalet, but a quick glance at the menu suggests that it’s the sort of place to go for lunch, or high tea with cakes and tiny sandwiches. Not that there’s anything wrong with high tea, cakes or tiny sandwiches, but what I’m looking for is somewhere that you can go and get a nice hot cup of tea (preferably from a teapot) and sit and read for half an hour.

I found myself in Costa today with one of their very small not-quite-two-cup teapots, reading my book only to discover that I was sat next to a chap who proceeded to carry out a very long, fairly loud and interminably boring work-related conversation. There were no other spare seats (believe me, I checked) and he was that particular type who was both amused by their own cleverness and entirely convinced that they’re 150% funnier than they actually were.

Sigh. All I wanted was half an hour of peace and quiet (and tea). Is that too much to ask?