Sunday, July 29, 2007

When it says here that half of people start smoking at school I assume they mean Infant School?

Thinking a bit more about Rose's - it was just fine minus it's traditional smokey atmosphere today (and on my more recent visits) though I can't help noticing one of my favorite pubs has closed within a short time of the ban. Perhaps it's just coincidence.

And something else I am noticing...people smoking in the street. I used to avoid it at some points and places in my life as it was an invitation to be harassed by a beggar. Now millions of people are snatching their fags between the non-smoking location they have just left and the non-smoking location they are about to arrive at.

And finally what are we to make of this tragic story?
A Rose by Another Name

Went to have a last drink at the Prince Albert aka Rose's this afternoon. R and I had encountered it a few years ago when we were visiting the area (a tip from the CAMRA supporting Kev and Mrs T I think) and have since enjoyed the great beer, Jackie's brilliant rolls and its well known 'time-warp' atmosphere whenever chance has allowed.

When contemplating the move out here it played a positive role - we could fantasise about soaking in its mellow atmoshere on some weekend evening.

Then we move here and R comes across it in an auction website and today its history. Not so much history - more a small collection of happy memories for me and R and a much larger collection for all the long-term locals who came to pay their last respects today.

It was extraordinary in this day and age for any type of retail outlet to go out of its way to look as if it was closed - Gordon's Wine Bar in Villiers Street could be another example. Whether it was deliberate or not I don't know but there was almost a Narnia feeling in walking through its front door. The contrast between the warm womb of the place and the harsher goings on outside couldn't be more extreme. I spent one summer afternoon sipping beer there listening to the biggest of barnies between a mad bus driver, an insane car driver and what seemed like a hundred hot and bothered kebab customers from the shop over the road. The door was wide open and there was nothing between us and it but the goings-on still seemed very far away - no more real than as if someone had started showing a Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing" on the uncharacteristically 21st century plasma screen.

Even timelessness, it seems, must come to an end.

Technorati Tags

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

In the olden days when you moved to a new area you perhaps got hold of a local map and plan yourself a little walkabout to familiarise yourself with your new surroundings.

Now thanks to Google (Windows Live does something similar) you can peruse the rooftops of your neighbours often with quite a bit of detail.

It is a great bit of software and hardly a new one. I was moved to throw up this quick post because it seems to be performing much better nowadays in Ubuntu than my first experiences of it which were painfully slow despite working fine with XP. So hooray to someone - Google or Canonical I don't know which.

PS - Does it look familiar to anyone?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

From the East to the West

It was time for the M and R's annual barby last Saturday so I prepared for a longer than usual journey. I was also up for a comparison of train services which is exciting isn't it? I had been discussing it with my friends on the Common (upstairs) and though they acknowledged SET had improved it was as nothing compared to services out of Waterloo proper. My outbound journey seemed to confirm that the pootling along in the old jallopy to London Bridge then a change then to Waterloo East then to Waterloo and then- bang!- I am on the Bullet train to Surbiton catching my breath in a top notch carriage with not a scratched window in sight. (getting a ticket at Waterloo was a bit of a mare though - almost as bad as Victoria). I get off the train and jump aboard, after a short wait, a reasonably unvandalised 281 which took me straight to the burning, if slightly damp, flesh.

(Argh ...Opera in Ubuntu didn't like this webpage (or vice versa) for some reason...rudely interrupted again. Switched to Firefox)

So South West wins round one. The next day with a bad head, probably induced by all that burger fat, I start the return leg. Again a 281 appears quickly and gives me an attractive ride up and down Surbiton Hill, parking straight outside the white facade of the station. Then it looked like the problems were about to start. Surbiton on a Sunday has always had millions of passengers and never enough staff. Add to that complicated enquiries by people whose first language is not English and other complicated season ticket procedures and you are going to die before you get to the end of that queue. There used to be two rubbish automated machines that also had long queues and the paper money slot would stop working just as it was your turn and you would find the fare was ten pence more than you had in change. Dreadful. However when I went there this Sunday though the endless queue was there were also a bank of intelligent machines that take plastic. So South West gets out of jail on this point - a marked improvement (though still a bit inadequate I would think for the commuter station par excellence).

I get to the platform and a not so handsome train is sitting there as dead as a doornail and the platform is packed with passengers. The train arrives and it is a struggle to grab a rather hard seat. Again there are more people than services out here. I get to Waterloo and walk straight through to catch a train to Plumstead. It pootles along as usual but it is not at all crowded - the opposite in fact, almost deserted.

Now of course millions of bored and cash rich Surrey-ites heading for a stroll down the South Bank is never going to matched by some mad Sunday exodus to SE18 but the point of all this is that a train service is more than the rolling stock, even the punctuality. The body/seat ratio is pretty important too. Since moving here I have never had to stand on either end of the journey and this is without me adjusting my normal hours. A train journey of fifteen minutes is a nice thing but 25 minutes when you can sit down and enjoy the views isn't too bad either. I doubt it will last sadly...all those new homes further east and all these disappearing transport schemes mean we might all feel a little more Surrey-like.

Monday, July 16, 2007

A friend has snapped this. I think some of this anti-smoking ban might just be a bit excessive - not only can you not smoke within the confines of a bus shelter you must be assisted in understanding that you cannot smoke with a Gigantic Banner. Dark references must be made to the law and oh yes there is the striking symbol in the colours black, white and red. And what are you supposed to do with that phone number? Is it a denunciation line or an information line? What kind of information? - "Hello I am phoning up to establish if I can in fact smoke in your bus shelter despite a sign of noticeable proportions suggesting otherwise?" "Please hold sir - I will just need to check that with my supervisor."

Some dreadful Finance Director mistook me for a "helpline" today. I sort of am one but he thought I was a vulnerable contact centre employee stuck in a warehouse in Gateshead pummeled into a near automaton. He was obviously in bullying mood. He started screaming at me when I told him his tone was aggressive "I AM NOT BEING AGGRESSIVE!!!!" If you put it in a comedy sketch it would be considered a lame cliché. I stepped out of the call and he apparently calmed down later (having got nowhere) but he has sent me into a black depressed rage all day. These people who are primed to say "put me through to someone who can help" before they have even started their inquiry are so patronising and disgusting it's not true. I have tried to buoy myself up with memories of the Month of Sundays event for Resonance FM that I went to last night. Pharaoh Overlord are a hoot - if you like your hoots on the weird side that is.

I can no longer get a clear signal for Resonance radio itself but the webcast sees me through.

Speaking of depressed, I am not sure if this lady and this one are overly excited by the smoke free joy of their bus shelter.

Thanks to AB for the photo
Avez-vous broadband? Avez-vous something to do?

Well that's my meagre effort - I would turn the sound down. I feel embarrassed by the "faster faster" exclamations I made.

These are better - firstly my favourite by parakletosuk then these two: number one and number two.

Bon voyage. Vive Le Plumstead.

technorati technorati

Thursday, July 12, 2007

French à Plum

And we all had a lovely time one and all.

It was curiously exciting walking up my road to the High Street to see it all closed off and policed-up in a relaxed way. There were sufficient vehicles making their way down the course (or whatever you call it) to hold my attention whilst I waited there in limbo with only the vaguest sense of when they would arrive. It was busier than these two photos make out - the Volunteer had even made an attempt to acknowledge what was taking place - it was festooned with red and white balloons. This was the only theming I saw down most of the length of the High Street.

R appeared at my shoulder unexpectedly and told me that Mr and Mrs R and the kids had decided against Greenwich and were in the High Street where they had bagged a good spot. The final moments before they arrrive are really stirring with a load of cars and bikes roaring ahead of the cyclists and finally a sudden splash of colour appeared at the bridge crossing the railway and they were here. And then they were gone. And we went home and started waiting for the next great event to come to Plum....whenever that might be.

Technorati Tag

Thursday, July 05, 2007

The great day has come and gone - July the First. I have been mildly amused by the various sights offered up by the implementation of the ban.

This evening it was a guy standing outside a bookies having a fag and craning his neck so much to view a race that he was to all intents and purposes inside the place.

R thought it was only a ban in pubs and even I was a bit surprised by the sight.

I have been in a couple of pubs this week - my old grotty favorite the Hole in the Wall and the lovely Royal Oak in Tabard Street.

The former has miraculously developed a yard with three tables in it - the pub was the deadest I have ever seen it but it was an unusual time of day for me to be in it.

The Royal Oak is a gorgeous Harveys pub down a back street near Borough Tube which does great food. I met a friend for a meal there just before quitting and he found its smokey atmoshere a bit too much despite being an ex-smoker himself.

No smoke now in either of these two boozers. The smoke has been fully replaced with the smell of chip fat. The new excuse of those who can't admit to getting old is quickly being formed. "I don't go to pubs much myself -I can't stand the smell of old fat on my clothes the next morning."

Kids Bike Eddie
Originally uploaded by eddiemalone
It looks like there is finally a tenant in sight for R's flat after a brief spell of nervousness.

To celebrate the world bicycling community are gathering at the end of our road to do the old Tour de France.

Can Plumstead cope with the strain of something actually happening? We will find out on Sunday.