Robert Hampton

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June 2008

5th June 2008

You wait ages, then none turn up at once
Posted by at 1.06pm | In the News | No responses

A nursing home in Germany has come up with a novel idea to stop their Alzheimer’s patients from wandering off – a fake bus stop.

The plan is that patients who decide they want to go somewhere end up waiting at the stop for a bus that will never arrive and eventually forget why they ever wanted to go out in the first place. Presumably they got the idea after trying to travel by bus in England on a Sunday.

7th June 2008

Which one will YOU support?
Posted by at 2.43pm | Sun and Cloud | No responses

Sun and Cloud Image 1

Sun and Cloud Image 2

Sun and Cloud Image 3

Read the rest of this post »

8th June 2008

I paid Boris Johnson 20 quid and he said something much worse
Posted by at 12.41pm | Liverpool, Television | 2 responses

It’s sometimes hard to explain to outsiders about the Liverpool psyche, but the first part of Alexei Sayle’s Liverpool did it quite well. Tossing aside whingeing Scouser stereotypes, it was an entertaining, occasionally unflattering but always thought-provoking look at a city that has faced some astonishing highs and lows over the last half-century or so.

Part 1 is available on the BBC iPlayer and is highly recommended. Parts 2 and 3 are broadcast on BBC2 this Friday and the next.

13th June 2008

Life, the Universe, and stuff
Posted by at 9.17am | In the News | No responses

Gordon Brown secured a slender Commons victory tonight when MPs voted to approve highly controversial plans allowing terrorist suspects to be detained without charge for up to 42 days.


Looking at this and other erosions of our civil liberties over the last ten years, I’ve been thinking — maybe it’s just our turn to be a dictatorship. Most European countries have flirted with it at one time or another, so why not us?

We wouldn’t be a powerful country that makes the world tremble in fear, but one of those crappy little states that everyone laughs at, like Turkmenistan. Look out for the month of April to be named after Gordon Brown’s mother soon…

16th June 2008

Armageddon in… Cardiff?
Posted by at 9.03pm | Fun | No responses

Finally, a web site that answers the question on everyone’s mind: what would happen if an asteroid hit Wales?

19th June 2008

Fag Hag
Posted by at 10.15pm | In the News | No responses

Liverpool is being flooded with poison cigarettes, screams the Echo. The counterfeit ciggies are apparently filled with arsenic and rat droppings — foodstuffs more typically associated with late-night kebab shops.

I shouldn’t jest, because these fake fags are liable to cause death or serious illness if smoked. Unlike real cigarettes, which are just fine. Why not smoke fifty or more?

21st June 2008

Oh Dr Beeching!
Posted by at 2.18pm | Trains | No responses

Someone has uploaded an old TV documentary to YouTube, all about the Beeching closures (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3). Worth watching, if only for the plentiful stock footage of 1980s British Rail.

Beeching has often been portrayed as an evil bogeyman figure for the rail industry. Helpfully the entire Beeching Report is now available online to review with the benefit of hindsight and an obsessive enthusiasm for rail transport.

History judges Dr Beeching harshly, so it’s only fair to mention some of the positives that came out of his proposals. He correctly identified that slow mixed goods trains shuttling from one freight yard to another (with endless coupling, uncoupling and shunting) would never be able to compete with the flexibility of road lorries. On the other hand, he realised the potential of block freight trains to move bulk goods around the country (coal to power stations, oil to refineries, containers to ports), and encouraged the creation of a network of high-speed passenger routes (what became the InterCity network from the 1970s onward).

It’s also true that his proposals were rooted in the prevailing climate of the time, where roads were king and the railways were seen as yesterday’s technology. And Beeching did correctly identify and prune away some lines which were unnecessary (e.g. where pre-nationalisation companies were competing for traffic, and built lines almost parallel to each other).

On the other hand, some of the routes proposed for closure are astonishing: for example, almost all of what is now Merseyrail was scheduled to go, although that short-sighted decision was fortunately reversed. Had the plan been carried out in full, Wales would have been almost totally devoid of railways. In the South West of England, the plan almost was carried out in full, and the system was ruthlessly cut.

Beeching has been accused of employing a flawed methodology: he picked out stations as “little-used” because of low ticket sales from them, ignoring the number of tickets from elsewhere to those stations. He also mistakenly believed that closing branch lines would not affect the main line services into which they fed — believing that intending passengers would drive to the main station and continue their journey by train. In practice, most people simply drove all the way.

He also failed to pick up on an interesting phenomenon of public transport: The People Who Will Not Use Buses. Car drivers can be quite easily tempted to get out of their vehicles and use a train or tram, but will not consider a bus under any circumstances. Hence the buses which replaced the closed railways went unused.

There was speculation that privatisation would usher in a new era of Beeching closures, but that hasn’t happened to a great extent. In fact, when the Department for Transport commissioned a “review” of the Northern franchise, some quarters were surprised when the report’s authors concluded that, although most train services operated at a loss, the franchise was efficiently run and cutting back services would not save money.

That said, the luckless inhabitants of Etruria (closed 2005) and Norton Bridge (all services replaced by buses since 2004) haven’t benefited too much.

Ironically, many of the routes closed under the Beeching axe would be invaluable transport links now. With fuel prices continuing to increase, it looks like the era of unfettered access to cars could be coming to an end, and the existence of a viable national public transport system could be vital to the long-term economic well-being of this country. However, considering the mess we’re in at the moment (with the Tory Government’s horrendously botched privatisations, and Labour actually managing to make things WORSE), don’t hold your breath. Because you’d DIE OF ASPHYXIATION.

26th June 2008

Tough on Robert Mugabe, tough on the causes of Robert Mugabe
Posted by at 8.20pm | In the News | No responses

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s honorary Knighthood has been annulled by the Queen.

Meanwhile the England and Wales Cricket Board has announced it has cancelled Zimbabwe’s 2009 tour, saying it shared government concerns about the “deteriorating situation and lack of human rights in Zimbabwe”.

THAT is our response? We’re not letting them play cricket with us? That’s the sort of thing an eight year old would do if someone took their sweets off them: “I’m not letting you play with my toys!”

27th June 2008

Other forms of sea transport are available
Posted by at 8.13pm | Fun | No responses

Good to see Google still has a sense of humour.

(via Andrew Sullivan).

30th June 2008

Gymmy Savile*
Posted by at 9.38pm | It's My Life | No responses

Ever experienced a moment where you’re in a changing room and standing just a couple of feet away from you is a perfect physical specimen of masculinity which makes you feel even more inadequate than usual?

That happened to me today at the gym. 🙁

* Yes, I know. I’m tired.