Robert Hampton

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September 2007

3rd September 2007

The Pain Line (Ha!)
Posted by at 9.08pm | Trains | No responses

Mum wanted to visit my sister in Hull and, being the fool that I am, I offered to book the train tickets for her. Half an hour later, and the TransPennine Express ticket booking site has completely lost my booking, despite a message saying “successful”. I have no idea whether I’ve been charged on my credit card, and they’re not replying to my e-mails. If, as I’m led to believe, the train companies want us to book tickets in advance, why do they make it so hard?

UPDATE: Friendly e-mail from thetrainline (who provide TPE’s internet booking service) confirmed that I haven’t been charged, and I’ve now been able to book, which is good, because I didn’t fancy spending my lunch break queueing at the ludicrously understaffed Travel Centre at Lime Street. But still, my faith in the system has been shaken… shaken, I tell you.

4th September 2007

Happy Feet
Posted by at 1.17pm | In the News, Trains | 1 response

Who’d want to do Merseyrail’s PR at the moment, eh? A cub scout leader is in tears after being prosecuted for putting her feet on a train seat.

What’s interesting about this is the critical stance the Daily Mail appears to have adopted in the report above. This newspaper has been calling for “zero tolerance” on anti-social behaviour, but apparently they want an exemption for middle class people.

I can guarantee that, had this incident involved a benefit-claiming but otherwise law-abiding single mum from a council estate, there would be no tabloid outrage.

Bravo to Merseyrail for their crackdown, I say. Now, how about going after people playing loud MP3s on their mobile phones?

UPDATE: Pleaded guilty but given an absolute discharge.

5th September 2007

A day which will live in infamy
Posted by at 1.33pm | It's My Life | No responses

What a happy day my birthday falls on!

1975: London Hilton bombed
Two people are killed and 63 injured as a suspected IRA bomb explodes in the lobby of the Hilton hotel in central London.
1997: Mother Teresa dies
Mother Teresa, the Nobel Peace Prize winner who devoted her life to helping the sick and the poor, dies at the age of 87.
1986: Karachi hijack ends in bloodshed
The 16-hour siege on a Pan Am jet in Pakistan comes to a bloody end, with at least 17 people dead.
1979: Mountbatten buried after final parade
The Queen leads the nation in mourning as the body of her husband’s uncle is buried after a day of pageantry in London.

6th September 2007

Wrexham? Completely destroys ’em!
Posted by at 1.25pm | Trains | No responses

Another new train company, who are apparently going to operate services using a Hornby Train Pack.

9th September 2007

Adventures in Public Transport, Part XXIX
Posted by at 1.42pm | Trains | No responses

Those nasty draconian security guards (yeah, whatever) would have had a field day on my train yesterday, where there was a man who allowed his DOG to SPREAD itself across TWO SEATS! On a BUSY service loaded with Saturday shoppers! Oh, I was ANGRY!

Sadly there was no enforcement officer on my train, but I was prepared to take matters in my own hands. I was getting off at the next stop, but for those two minutes between Central and Moorfields, he was the victim of a Paddington Bear-esque hard stare from yours truly. I showed him!

12th September 2007

Rawl Plugs
Posted by at 1.16pm | Television | No responses

A cheerful nugget of information in this BBC report:-

Scandal-hit ITV Play’s remaining call-in competition programmes, that are broadcast late at night on ITV1 and ITV2, are to be scrapped.

Is this good news? Depends what they replace it with. ITV’s former overnight lineup, although clearly done on a miniscule budget, used to be good for the occasional bit of quirky or downright strange programming. These days we’ll probably get Jeremy Kyle repeats and infomercials for Time Life CDs.

13th September 2007

Posted by at 1.16pm | In the News | No responses

The BBC’s headline:

Cocaine users "getting younger"

Cocaine can make you younger? No wonder so many people take it!

14th September 2007

Whose Whine is it Anyway?
Posted by at 5.52pm | Trains, Work | No responses

Network Rail have closed the line between Sandhills and Liverpool Central for engineering work from today until Sunday, and Merseyrail have contracted those nice people at Arriva to provide buses instead.

However, the buses are not stopping outside Central station, presumably because of all the road works in the area and the ensuing traffic congestion. Instead, they’re dropping off on Lime Street, outside St George’s Hall.

This did not impress a co-worker who complained bitterly at the extra walk to the office. “It’s miles away!” she protested, “I had to get a taxi.”

The office monkeys who had gathered around were rather taken aback by this. General consensus was that it was certainly not miles. I helpfully called up which gave the distance as less than 0.5 miles. I pointed this out, adding that I myself had walked from Lime Street to Central many times.

“Have you ever walked it in 4-inch high heels?” she asked.
I pondered this question.
“As a matter of fact –” I began, before thinking better of it.

Seriously, when an able-bodied person is put off by a walk of less than half a mile, the world is in trouble. Would we have won two world wars with that attitude?

15th September 2007

In a manner of my own choosing
Posted by at 1.23pm | Television | No responses

Hurrah! Whose Line is it Anyway? is coming out on DVD!

This first release contains series 1 and 2. I remember watching these episodes (from 1988/89) on Paramount Comedy a few years back. The comedy is iffy compared to what came later, but it has its moments, especially when you have Peter Cook and Stephen Fry on the same episode:-

Let’s hope that this show gets a full Region 2 release, including the underrated US version.

17th September 2007

Adventures in Public Transport, Part XXX

I arrived at Liverpool Central at 3.57pm. The departure board in the booking hall read: “Hunts Cross 1 min”. No time to lose, I thought, and dashed through the barrier, waving my Trio pass at the man.

I can’t be sure, but as I headed for the escalators I’m sure I heard one of the other staff members say, “he was a bit aggressive pushing that ticket right in your face, wasn’t he?”

Now, I was hurrying for the train, so wasn’t fully concentrating on my hand/ticket co-ordination. And I don’t even know if he was talking about me (but I suspect he was). Of course, I’ll now be obsessing over this for weeks to come. Am I too aggressive when showing my ticket? Do I push tickets right in their faces? I always try to smile at the staff when passing through, which is more than most miserable commuters do.

Whatever happens, I can now add the ticket barrier at Central station to my list of places where I feel unreasonably self-conscious.

21st September 2007

Queen Elizabeth 2
Posted by at 7.10pm | Liverpool | 2 responses

QE2 at Pier Head

The QE2’s visit to Liverpool coincided with the worst torrential downpour for, ooh, at least 2 weeks — proof, if proof were needed, that God hates cruise liners.

I jumped on the Mersey Ferry (I already had a Saveaway so it was free!) and managed to elbow enough pensioners out the way to get some half-decent shots (one of which is reproduced above — click the thumbnail), although the weather wasn’t really conducive to photography.

Anyway, it’s all just a flimsy excuse to link to AISLiverpool, an interesting web site which tracks the locations of ships in Liverpool Bay and further afield and plots them on a map for your delectation. It’s updated in near realtime, too.

26th September 2007

52.5% margin of error


Fire up your favorite calculator and multiply 850 by 77.1. Through the magic of zeros and ones, you’ll quickly get an answer of 65,535. Those using the Excel 2007, however, will be told the total is 100,000.

I was a bit sceptical of this, but I fired up Excel, and sure enough:-

Excel Whoops

It amused me. But then, I’m quite easily amused by this sort of thing.

27th September 2007

Inverted pyramid of de Pfeffel
Posted by at 10.50pm | In the News, Politics | No responses

Boris Johnson is the Conservative candidate for Mayor of London. The BBC have helpfully itemised his previous form on what even Boris himself describes as a “global itinerary of apology” — with stops in Liverpool, Portsmouth and Papua New Guinea.

Meanwhile the Guardian, citing a report from a left-wing group, point out some of his less entertaining indiscretions, such as supporting the Iraq war, section 28 and fox-hunting. Then they go on to describe him as “Norman Tebbit in clown’s uniform” — surely that position is already occupied by Norman Tebbit?

Did anyone ever see The Simple Life? It was a TV show where blonde people are put into jobs they are incapable of doing, with disastrous results. If Boris becomes the Mayor of London, it will be exactly like that. But hey… I don’t live there, so bring it on! 🙂

29th September 2007

Brain drain
Posted by at 3.03pm | It's My Life | No responses

I bought the catchily-titled Dr. Kawashima’s Brain Training: How Old Is Your Brain?. After doing the tests, which involved shouting the names of colours into the DS microphone (this is not a game to play on a crowded train), the titular Japanese chappy, appearing via a slightly scary-looking 3D avatar, breezily informed me that my brain age was… wait for it… 50!

Yes, fifty. Five-oh. Half a century. 2×25. Clearly that hour I spent watching BBC Three the other night has killed my brain beyond all hope of repair. Actually, Brain Training is quite good fun, and it uses the features of the DS well. You write your answers using the stylus and, as mentioned above, it has voice-recognition as well. The good news is, after 2 days of hard graft, I’m now down to 41! Hurrah! Don’t ship me off to the old people’s home just yet.