Robert Hampton

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September 2008

4th September 2008

Pushing the Envelope
Posted by at 10.52pm | Trains | No responses

The question, “what do you buy the train geek who has everything?” finally has an answer. The railway powers-that-be have published Avantix Traveller, an instant lookup program which will display the fares between any two stations in Britain, including — crucially — the time restrictions for “Off Peak” tickets.

Screenshot of Avantix Traveller software showing time restrictions for a Liverpool-London OffPeak Return

Getting this info from online sources is somewhat hit-and-miss, so it’s nice to have a definitive statement. You shouldn’t really have to pay £10.59 to get this information, and there’s no reason why the online journey planner couldn’t tell it to you, but it still compares well to the hefty National Fares Manual which used to be the only source for the curious traveller.

However, the main purpose of this post is not to point out my sad obsession with all things railway (that’s just a delightful side effect) but to point out the heartening efficiency with which TSO Shop handled my order. In the picture below, compare the size of the CD-ROM with the size of the envelope it came in.

Envelope which arrived from TSO

A tree died to make that envelope!

6th September 2008

La Machine Stops (Traffic)
Posted by at 5.41pm | Liverpool | No responses


A very cool spectacle, complete with fantastic smoke and water effects (which I don’t have any pictures of because I was holding my mobile phone the wrong way round).

The only problem was the muppets at the front of the crowd, who saw the spider coming down Castle Street and started pushing back against those behind to get out of the way, which created crush and started a bit of a panic among the parents of the little kids present. Presumably they thought it was a real spider which would EAT THEM if they stayed put.

7th September 2008

Spider Big, Spider Big, Does Whatever a Spider Big Does
Posted by at 8.50pm | Liverpool | No responses

In the end miserable old me didn’t go into town to see the La Machine finale. Normally I wouldn’t even bother mentioning this fact, but I had the above title ready for my blog, and I didn’t want to waste it.

9th September 2008

Liverpool Ech-oh dear
Posted by at 4.20pm | Liverpool | 1 response

So, the Liverpool Echo is moving its printing press to Oldham. The editor is begging outraged Scousers not to abandon the paper, and has hit out at “misinformed media pundits” for daring to criticise the paper and its parent company, Trinity Mirror.

Some clots in the media have tried to portray this as a move to Manchester. Let me give them a basic geography lesson. Oldham is five miles from Manchester.

That’s true. Specifically, it’s five miles to the North East of Manchester, making it even further away from Liverpool than Manchester is.

There are surely sound economic reasons for Trinity Mirror to have one big printing press instead of loads of smaller ones dotted around the North of England. But in one important respect, this leaves the Daily Post and Echo in a difficult position, given their history of vigorous campaigns against organisations which have proposed to move jobs out of the city.

The most recent example of this came last month when the Royal Mail proposed the closure of its Liverpool office, with mail sorting operations moving to Warrington. The Echo said this:-

Royal Mail’s disregard for the people and status of Liverpool, as part of a slapdash programme to bolster its own floundering financial fortunes, must not be tolerated.

Royal Mail jobs and services must remain where they belong … in the city.

How can the Echo make comments like those above in the future, when they have arguably done a similar thing within their own organisation?

10th September 2008

Screw You, Hadron Head!
Posted by at 8.40am | Sun and Cloud | No responses

Read the rest of this post »

12th September 2008

Good, Bad

GOOD: Going to London for a day out.
BAD: Having to get up at stupid o’clock (aka 5.30am) to get the first Merseyrail train into town to connect with an early morning Virgin Train at Lime Street.

GOOD: Virgin allow Off-Peak tickets bought with Railcards to be used on any train without time restriction.
BAD: Everyone else gets charged a hugely expensive fare, meaning that my train (the 07.07 to London, supposedly Virgin’s “flagship” Liverpool service) was half-empty.

GOOD: The Science Museum has a great exhibition on the development of British technology in household appliances.
BAD: The Science Museum cafe promised sandwiches “from £1.50”, but I certainly couldn’t find any at that price (nice Danish pastry, though).

GOOD: Meeting up with a friend I haven’t seen for ages and strolling alongside the River Thames with her.
BAD: Seeing things which looked really interesting (Tate Modern, Globe Theatre, HMS Belfast) but not having time to visit them. I need to book a hotel and spend a few days there.

GOOD: Having the foresight to buy an Oyster card online from TfL’s website, meaning I saved money and beat the horrendous queues at Euston Underground station.
BAD: Slipping on the wet surface at Boston Manor tube station and falling down the stairs.

GOOD: Reaching Euston station early enough to catch an earlier train home than the one I had planned.
BAD: Did not have a seat reservation for this service so had to fight my way past the Friday night crowds to the non-reserved coach where I got a seat — just.

GOOD: The train toilets were clean.
BAD: Opening the train toilet door to find a woman in “full flow”, as it were, because she had forgotten to push the “Lock” button.

16th September 2008

Never a Frown with Gordon Brown
Posted by at 9.42pm | Politics | No responses

Amusing quote from this article, about minister David Cairns quitting the Government:-

Gordon Brown said he was “disappointed” by the MP’s decision but warned this was not a time for “internal debate”.

That’s good, because this debate has been anything but internal. Loads of them are at it!

Seriously, does anyone believe that Labour can win the next general election with Gordon Brown as leader? Does anyone believe Labour can win the next general election?

17th September 2008

I own a vintage phone shop!
Posted by at 9.50pm | Television | No responses

It’s “embed a video clip in lieu of original content” time, as Stephen Colbert’s deadpan demeanour deserts him for just a moment:-

23rd September 2008

Important Notice
Posted by at 11.30pm | In the News | No responses

The End of the World has been postponed.

27th September 2008

Guardian of Forever
Posted by at 7.18pm | Fun | No responses

Thanks to a friendly lady who was loitering inside Liverpool Central station last Friday handing out 50% off vouchers, I’ve been buying the Guardian at a substantially discounted rate all week, and have used said newspaper as a handy prop to convince my fellow commuters that I’m an English teacher or social worker.

For yours truly, living in a household where the only source of national news is the Daily Mail, it’s come as something of a revelation: turns out asylum seekers are not all filthy terrorists, the BBC is actually quite good, and gay people are not out to corrupt our children!

The surest sign that we’re in a very different country, however, came today when I opened Guide supplement and found this ad in the Soulmates dating section:-

Disembodied, neo-cortex, afloat inside a tank of nutrient, solution, has ability to see back and forth in time, communicates via a synchronised swim team of dolphins, WLTM sim, 36-42, 44, Ldn.