Wednesday, August 24, 2005

IMGP0242 Portsmouth Spinnaker TowerGiven the content of the last post, do you think I might have had phones on my mind? Blame South West Trains.

On Friday when leaving London, I did the usual charge down the platform at Waterloo. Why? It's amazing how many people pile into the first carriage, then find themselves standing for the whole journey. Whereas people used to Waterloo speed off down the platform, ignoring half empty carriages until they get to a nearly empty carriage. Why avoid the half empty carriage? Because most other people coming down grab the first seat they see, so the train fills from the back. So the half empty carriage becomes yet another carriage filled with damply harried men dropping briefcase on other people.

This technique works superbly until one suddenly discovers the stupid thing only has 5 carriages. In which case one takes the nearest, still fairly empty carriage. Which happened to be the "quiet" one (it never is; usually it's full of people tutting and ostentatiously clearing their throats - don't they know that it's supposed to be quiet?).

So being a good little boy, I duly obeyed the signs banning mobile phones and stuck my phone on silent.

Cut to late on Sunday:
Having finished charging my razor (rule number 4: never ever let anyone "borrow" the two round pins to three rectangular ones adaptor, no matter how fleetingly they claim it will be), I realised my phone was probably running low as well. So... oh. It's not there. Maybe, I left it o... no. Unless it w... no. Er...

Think, think! When did I last have it? Did X ring mobile or landline? Mobile I think, so it must be just... no. Where could it have fallen? Not there. I know, I'll do the clever thing; I'll ring it.

Ring ring, ring ring... invented the phone.
Nothing. At least it's ringing, even if I can't hear it.

Try again, but running into a different room this time.
Still nothing.

But it must be here, because I had it in the pocket of my bag on the train, and no one came near me for the whole journey. I'll check the pocket again. I'll check all the other pockets as well.


It must have fallen down somewhere, so I can't hear it. Where would I leave it? So where could it fall? But I didn't hear the buzzing, and if was down the back of something whatever it was behind would be shaking.

"...can't hear it" equals...
[internal thunking as I get lemon-lemon-bell, which is about as close as I ever get]

I put it on silent when I got on the train, and I put in the inside pocket of my jacket because then I'd feel it.

Open wardrobe, insert hand, two missed calls, both me.

But at least I didn't feel as foolish as I did when going out on Friday. Left slightly late, bit worried about various things. Realised I hadn't got my phone. Ran back, then back in, nearly leaving my keys in the door. Hare round frantically looking for my phone. I can't find it. Ring myself. I can hear it ringing, but I can't tell where it's from. It sounds like it's in the kitchen, but as I enter it, it obviously isn't. Maybe it's coming through from my bedroom. I run, and as I turn the corner the sound apparently shifts and it's coming from back where I was. It must be in something. It stops as I scurrying back to hang up.

It's about at that point I feel my rucksack bouncing against my back. My rucksack which I normally put my phone in. And yes it's in there, although it's fallen out of the smaller internal pocket. At least a dog chasing its own tail only runs in one direction.

This is why friends are important. Especially those with problems. A constant stream of people ringing you does at least mean you're constantly being reminded where your phone is (even if it is at 4.20 am [Hello? Huh? Oh. Hel... No, listen. Remember we talked about this drunk-dialling thing. You're not drunk? Right... M-mmm. Did he? Good-o. Oh, not good? Yeah. Well... thanks for sharing, yes, I know, but I'm sure you'll get over it, I'm going to hang up now, but I suspect you're so far gone you won't notice for at least half an hour, and when you ring up to complain that I hung up on you, you'll probably ring your parents instead. Ok then, bye]).

But enough of proving just how thick I can be and on to trying to pull the world sideways. I had a slight "Google maps does, do why don't the BBC weather maps" incident in each I cruelly manhandled East Anglia. Trying to drag the country doesn't work. You can't even use directional arrows (and how passé are they?) like the bad old Streetmap/Multimap. I know sticking in the coding would probably kill the un-broadbanded, but if the BBC can ditch half the detail because it discourages the hard of thinking, then surely they have the power to counterbalance the increased television audience with a slimmed down web user base? And if the new weather maps haven't increased the number of people watching them then remind me why they had to ditch isobars.

I heard on the news earlier something about the surge in crime on public transport (following 7th July). Apparently the powers that be are worried that revised licensing laws will increase alcohol related crime on public transport.

So let me get this straight; they're worried that later closing times in pubs will lead to more aggressive drunk people on buses and trains?

I think I can see their fatal assumption; that there are buses and trains at that time of night.

And when is the last train home? I'm investigating trains because makes it easy (and they usually run later than the buses, although I can think of obvious examples where this is reversed). I've taken reciprocal pairs, just to balance out any differences. These trains are the last trains leaving on Friday night (and into early Saturday morning); the last trains on Saturdays tend to be significantly earlier (2304 versus 0020). I've chosen mainline trains between major stations to demonstrate the absolute limit; heaven help you if you're not on the mainline.

2226 [0540] Exeter to Bristol.
2330 Bristol to Exeter.
2300 Southampton to Basingstoke.
0055 Basingstoke to Southampton.
2302 [0400] Brighton to London.
0100 London to Brighton.
2319 Portsmouth to London.
2345 London to Portsmouth.
2334 Reading to Guildford.
0001 Guildford to Reading.
0020 Oxford to Reading - Friday.
(2304 Oxford to Reading - Saturday)

0102 Reading to Oxford.

Now let's pretend that we've gone to pub, but each of us in different towns and cities. We've all just finished our drinks, and are leaving our respective pubs at quarter past eleven.

Mr Exeter, I'm sorry, but you are going to have to lie in car park in front of St David's until twenty to six tomorrow morning. I suggest you go and find a friendly student who lives in the university accommodation next door to sleep with.
Miss Southampton, assuming you've even found the station, you too are stuck until the morrow.
As is Mr Brighton, who will be spending a long time contemplating the view.
Mr Portsmouth you'd better run, although I'm fairly sure anywhere decent is beyond 4 minutes away from the station.
Miss Reading, you've got quarter of an hour. Except you're in Reading, so nowhere actually shuts at eleven.
Mr Oxford, congratulations you might be able to catch your train. Just as long as you only go out on Fridays.

The people travelling the other way get the better deal, but even then some of them don't leave much staggering time. So in about half the sample towns you'd need to be fairly uninebriated to actually catch the train.

That's how everything stands now. Come November and pubs staying open later, what proportion of the last trains (assuming no extended services from the train companies, which based on past experience I think is a fairly safe assumption) will leave before the pubs close? So how many more drunk people will be taking the trains, and consequently what rise in alcohol related crime on public transport should we expect to see?

So was this improbable news story just the result of some PR person frantically spinning something vaguely related? Now let's play guess the spun-upon (unfortunately I can't think of anything connected).

I've just noticed, the 2319 from Portsmouth to London arrives at 0453, with a stop-over in Guildford. The latest direct train is at 2219. So if you're off gigging at the Pyramids (it's a swimming pool!), you'd probably better leave just before the warm up act finish.

The astute may also notice that I don't mention how many trains run before the last train home; in some cases they're like the Tube, in others there may be a train about 1 am, but the last train before that leaves at quarter past ten. It's all very irregular.


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