Robert Hampton

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September 2010

1st September 2010

Singing in the Train
Posted by at 7.49pm | Trains | 1 response

Merseyrail’s post-engineering work charm offensive continues. Today, as I was hurrying to catch my train to work, I was stopped by a staff member in the booking hall. I was about to dig in my pockets for my Trio, but instead of demanding to see my ticket, he pressed an item into my hand. “A thank you,” he said.

Closer inspection revealed it to be an umbrella emblazoned with the Merseyrail logo! Surely this is something for me to sell on eBay treasure for years to come.

Merseyrail Umbrella

Thanks Merseyrail. I’m actually going to feel almost guilty when I criticise your ticketing policy in my next blog post.

2nd September 2010

Normally I like it via the back door, but THIS…
Posted by at 8.46pm | Trains | 1 response

Oh, Merseyrail — you lavish me with umbrellas and discounted coffees, and then you go and do something to dispel the warm fuzzies.

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4th September 2010

Hague and Myers, sitting in a tree
Posted by at 11.54am | Gay, In the News | No responses

The William Hague “gay affair” non-story is so weird. Is two men sharing a hotel room — in the absence of any other evidence whatsoever — really grounds for suspicion? It’s so sad that so much press coverage has been given to nasty rumours and gossip (especially when more important matters, like the News of the World phone hacking, have been sidelined) and I have to say, there seems to be an unpleasant tinge of homophobia here.

5th September 2010

It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to. However, I don’t want to
Posted by at 12.00pm | It's My Life | 1 response

It’s my birthday, and for once I actually feel like celebrating. It’s been a hell of a year — I went to Scotland, went to Brighton, came out and went to Pride, and did a whole lot more besides.

There’s nothing like a birthday to make you feel loved and appreciated. As well as the usual gifts from family, I got cards from people in work, from new friends I’ve made recently, and from old friends that I previously thought had forgotten me.

Things are going well for me at the moment. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that I’m happier now than I have been at any time in the past. Even more excitingly, I firmly believe that things are going to get even better for me in the months ahead. 🙂 Life isn’t perfect, but I feel ready to take on anything that the Universe throws my way.

Partly as a result of my new-found enthusiasm, I’ve finally pulled my finger out and started to renovate and generally fix up this web site, which has stagnated a bit over the past year or so. A redesign is on the cards, but until then some more minor adjustments have been made, including an answer — finally — to a question Seb asked, on 19th August 2003: “how long does a links page take to make?” The answer, as it turns out, is seven years. I’m sure it was worth the wait.

7th September 2010

Nicer ambulances, faster response times and better looking drivers

This doesn’t seem at all over the top:-

MERSEYSIDE’S emergency services joined teams from across England today to take part in a major exercise simulating an earthquake hitting Liverpool.

The massive event, one of the largest to have been undertaken, is aimed at testing the response to an “unthinkable” disaster.

So in other words they recreated a bad Sci-fi Channel movie? Hm.

15th September 2010

Posted by at 9.45pm | Liverpool, Trains | No responses

Happy birthday to the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, which opened 180 years ago today. There were other earlier attempts, but the L&M was the first proper railway as we would recognise it today, with all trains working under their own power rather than drawn by horses and using fixed stopping places and timetables.

What an adventure it must have been for the early travellers. Those first nervous passengers travelled aboard rickety four-wheeled carriages, with uncomfortable seats, low speeds and poor ride quality. We’ve come a long way since then.

The line contains several engineering marvels, including the crossing of Chat Moss and the Sankey Viaduct. The route is of course still in use today, with Earlestown station having the distinction of being the oldest railway station in the world. A few stops down the line at Rainhill, a plaque and exhibition commemorate the famous locomotive trials which proved that steam power was the way of the future.

City Line map of Liverpool and Manchester Railway

Despite some early hiccups (killing the guest of honour on launch day is the sort of PR snafu that would make even Max Clifford’s palms sweat) the L&M’s success inspired a swathe of copycat enterprises. Within a few years, a vast network of lines criss-crossed the country, opening up areas previously inaccessible without an arduous journey. Trips that previously took days were reduced to a few hours. The railways created tourism and introduced the concept of commuting.

Do many people riding the overcrowded Pacer into Lime Street in 2010 recognise the historical importance of this section of the City Line? Probably not, but the world would have been a very different place without it.

16th September 2010

Top of the Popes
Posted by at 9.26pm | In the News | No responses

Caution - The Pope is ComingI abandoned religion a long time ago and never looked back. I try to be a good person because it’s the right thing to do, not because I’m worried about getting into Heaven. At the same time I respect the choices of those who do wish to follow a religion. Worship in any way you want (form a religion around a spoon for all I care), just don’t try and persuade me to join you. I suspect that lots of people in Britain feel the same way as I do.

Pope Benedict, unfortunately, doesn’t seem to have the same live-and-let-live attitude. Before he even arrived there was a minor kerfuffle when one of his aides called Britain a “third world” country. Then, during a speech today, the Pope, seemingly unaware of Godwin’s Law, blamed atheism for the rise of Nazism (the Telegraph’s Tom Chivers has a good takedown of that silly argument).

A host of well-known public figures got together to sign a letter to the Guardian protesting the Pope’s visit. It is an uncompromising viewpoint, but temperately expressed. In the eyes of the Daily Mail, however, this marks the latest stage in an atheist hate campaign, being waged by fashionable left-wingers as part of their effort to turn the whole country into a communist, abortion-permitting, anal sex-having hellhole. Stephen Fry’s blog response to the Mail’s comment is a joy to behold.

The Mail is being (and this may surprise you) rather over the top and hysterical. It is not “hate” to point out that the Pope’s views on homosexuality and birth control, among other things, are rather out of step with the mainstream. Nor is it “hate” to bring up the sex abuse scandal which has been handled woefully.

Maybe when the above problems are sorted out we will be able to focus on the good work the Church does. Until then, the Protest the Pope people are providing a much-needed voice of dissent.

19th September 2010

Lark in the Park
Posted by at 9.57pm | Out and About | 2 responses

Birkenhead Park Festival of Transport 2010This weekend offered a great variety for the intrepid Merseysider intent on transport-related frolics. In the north of the county, the Southport Air Show offered fun in the sky for the whole family. Unfortunately the sky decided to have some fun of its own, depositing a large amount of rain on the showground overnight, causing flooding and a hasty cancellation.

Marginally better off was the Birkenhead Park Festival of Transport, the annual event showcasing all sorts of transport-related… er, stuff. The official web site, which played an embedded MIDI file on a continuous loop (is it 1996 in their webmaster’s mind?), promised “Traction engines, vintage cars, buses and military vehicles, steam engines, steam boats, radio controlled model boats, sailing boats, steam powered carousel and vintage fairground”. Exciting, yes?

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