The Anonymous Widower

I Doubt I’ll Go Back To Salisbury

My plan had been to find a restaurant that was highly recommended by TipAdvisoralled Greengages Cafe. But I had a problem in that I couldn’t find it, as Salisbury doesn’t have any maps.

When I did find a map, after I’d walked back to the station, I realised that I must have walked past Catherine Street, where the restaurant is located. I thought it had been that street at the time, but there were no road names. Do you have to be psychic to find anywhere in Salisbury.

If cities and towns want to attract visitors, they must put up proper maps and signage. Salisbury could also do with more pedestrianisation or at least the banning of cars and trucks fom the centre. As I walked back to the station some idiot driver went past me at about fifty, as I was struggling to stay on the narrow pavement as a lady with a double buggy passed the other way.

Salisbury won’t miss me, if I never go back to the city again.

So lunch was a bottle of water from the Pumpkin and an EatNakd bar.

June 24, 2014 Posted by | Food, World | | 1 Comment

A Trip Around Wiltshire

I went from Waterloo to Salisbury and then onto the to the TransWilts to Swindon before coming home on a High Speed Diesel Train.

The train rides were enjoyable, through the countryside bathed in sun.

They did show some of the best and worst that trains in the UK have to offer.

The trip down to Salisbury was in a spotless Class 159, which probably because of the late morning time was rather empty. It was a diesel train, as no-one ever got round to extending the electrification on from Basingstoke.

I found Salisbury difficult, as the maps and signage were terrible. I couldn’t even find anyone, who knew where the street I needed was located.

Salisbury station  was rather nice, even if the Pumpkin buffet was its usual self, with no bottles with proper caps and no change. There used to be jokes about British Rail catering and Pumpkin don’t seem to have improved over the years.

I found Salisbury difficult, as the maps and signage were terrible. I couldn’t even find anyone, who knew where the zstreet I needed was located.

On from Salisbury to Westbury it was in a very crowded Class 150. This seemed to be mainly due to Glastonbury travellers many of whom were carrying lots of luggage.

Westbury station was busy with lots of freight trains passing through and full trains taking travellers to Castle Cary for Glastonbury.

The station also had a non-Pumpkin buffet, where I bought a nice coffee and a banana with a curve as delicious as the fruit. We need more independent rail caterers like this. It is mentioned in this list from the Gusrdian.

On fom Westbury to Swindon it was a single coach Class 153, which was again spotless, but it had a hideous mainly green interior.

But after a couple of stops, it brought me to Swindon for a very crowded High Speed Train to London.

It had been a mixed day, with the undoubted low point of Salisbury, the station’s buffet and the train I took from there to Westbury.

It could have been a lot worse, as the driver at Westbury had trouble releasing the brake on the Class 153. I didn’t hear any signs of a large wrench being used as a hammer, so he must have persuaded the train to release her brake by kindness or some other acceptable method. Or it could be that the cheery conductor, used her undoubted good humour.

At least the day was sandwiched by two rides in diesel trains at high speed.

The Transwilts Community Rail Partnership, appear to be making a good fist of creating a frequent rail link across Wiltshire. I’ll go again in a couple of years, to see if they have found a cure for their nauseas train. But I won’t go anywhere near the area at the time of Glastonbury.

June 24, 2014 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 4 Comments

A Telling Statistic

Justin Webb in this article in The Times says the following.

This year under 70 per cent of American 19-year-olds have driving licences, down from 87 per cent two decades ago.

I have heard young people in London, say they are not going to learn to drive, as they have no need. So as [ublic transport and cycling gets better, are we all falling out of love with our cars.

In a thought provoking article he goes on to say this.

Does the hunger for live events in the internet age — concerts, exhibitions, demonstrations — encourage people to meet and talk again?

Certainly here in East London, there are two groups of four seats on the new Routemasters on route 38, where people do seem to congregate to have a chat. If they don’t chat, everybody also interreacts in a very polite way.

So has a good design, made life in the world’s greatest city better and less fraught?

June 24, 2014 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

UKIP Would Shrink Without The Internet

This was the title of an article in The Times yesterday by Hugo Rifkind, in which he comes to some interesting conclusions. I particularly liked this bit.

The decline of traditional media — of printed newspapers, limited radio stations, and everybody watching the same TV news — is best understood as the end of media deference. No longer must we gain our understanding of the world via information collected, curated and presented by others. Instead, we can go looking for whatever we like. Consciously or otherwise, we each build our own little online universe.

I think that Rifkind is right and the world will be a worse place because people will not hear any views opposed to their own.

June 24, 2014 Posted by | Computing, World | , , | Leave a comment

Do As I Say Not As I Do!

I don’t support Greenpeace directly, although I follow some of their ideas and I’m happy to use their research to back up a principle I believe in.

My reasons for not supporting them financially, is that they have chugged me and I don’t support charities who do that.

But also, I feel some of their stunts are more about raising money than anything else.

I also feel in some cases their views are wrong and that these views have set back the lot of some people, who don’t live in the same decent circumstances, as most who work for and support the charity.

But today, I read the report on how one of their senior executives commutes from Luxembourg to Amsterdam by air, rather than uses the train. It’s reported in several newspapers and the report in the Daily Mail is here.

On reading this report, I suspect a lot of Greenpeace’s supporters have decided not to do so any more!

It’s not as though there aren’t other charities working in the same area.


June 24, 2014 Posted by | News | , | Leave a comment

Boys With Be Boys

There is a lot of speculation in the media, as why Muslim men are flocking to fight in Syria and Iraq.

Was it ever any different?

Go back to the Middle Ages and it was rape and pillage in the Crusades or with Henry the fifth, and later it was piracy with Drake and Grenville.

Nelson And Wellington were not short of volunteers and in Victorian times, it was all about Empire building, with a small personal fortune thrown in, if you were lucky!

Perhaps the nearest parallel to that of Syria and Iraq today, was the International Brigades of the Spanish Civil War. Many of those who fought in the Brigades or openly supported them went on to be important figures in later life.

You could also argue that both the First and Second World War was an outlet for many men, who had an excess of testosterone.

I also remember a General, saying that the Falklands War did a lot of good for Army recruitment.

I am a pacifist or more likely a coward, but we shouldn’t be too quick to condemn those, who go to fight in Iraq and Syria.

The ones we should condemn are the countries and arms dealers, who are giving the likes of the odious President Assad, the weapons they are using to kill their own people.

June 24, 2014 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

Getting Your Money Back On Oyster

I don’t use my Oyster card much on London’s transport system, as I have a Freedom Pass.

But I do appreciate how difficult it could be to get a refund on a journey that has gone wrong. So this story about getting refunds on-line through Oyster is to be welcomed. Here’s an extract.

Whilst the system for taking your money is very slick – automatic Oyster top-up, contactless payment – getting it back has been a laborious process, with a lengthy online or even pen-and-paper form.

Sigh no more, commuters. From today, TfL are making it easier to get a refund for late Underground and Overground trains.

Now, instead of entering all of your personal information every time your Underground or DLR train is 15 minutes late (or 30 minutes if you’re on the Overground), you can set up an account that holds it all, so you only have to put in the details of your late journey.

This does show how the way public transport ticketing is going.

With only a few days now before London’s buses go cashless and as it looks like the Underground and Overground will go the same way soon, London is eliminating the hassle from public transport.

As Oyster can now be topped-up automatically, I wonder how many companies now give employees an Oyster card, that the company tops up automatically? Take say a bit employer like University College Hospital, where there is no staff parking, would a company Oyster card be a simple perk to recruit and retain staff.

Transport for London seems to be becoming a giant computer system, with large numbers of ride-on terminals. Wouldn’t it be nice if black taxis and the bikes were able to be charged to Oyster?

June 24, 2014 Posted by | Transport | , , | 2 Comments

The Police Workload Due To Social Media

According to this article on the BBC, social media crimes are at least half of all frontline Police work. Here’s the first two paragraphs.

Complaints originating from social media make up “at least half” of a front-line police officer’s work, a senior officer has told the BBC.

Chief Constable Alex Marshall, head of the College of Policing, said the number of crimes arising from social media represented “a real problem”.

I’m not against reporting these crimes to the Police in any way, but I do think that this is a rather large load on the Police.

As a programmer, who has worked in data analysis for many years and as I feel I understand the Internet very well, I do not feel it is beyond the wit of programmers and companies to create a robust and trusted Internet-based system to deal with all the annoyances of the modern age.

Obviously, you could still go to the Police directly, but if say forwarding an offensive message to a semi-automated system had a sensible outcome, you might find this less trouble.

There are very few things that because of my physical and mental make-up that can be said to me as abuse. Although, I do get fed-up with some spam messages that seem to come to me every day. But I can understand how some people  get offended and need their tormentors stopped.

I believe that a well-programmed system could handle much of the abuse and unwanted messages we get. If it became trusted and the sanctions it had taken against persistent nuisances were respected, people would think twice before sending offensive messages.

It might even stop crime and disrupt terrorist networks. As I write this, it has been said on the BBC, that you can follow what is going on with ISIS in Iraq through Twitter.

But then politicians don’t understand the power of technology and especially don’t like being bypassed by it. So we are more likely to see draconian laws on social media.

June 24, 2014 Posted by | Computing, World | , , , | Leave a comment

Man Gets Stuck In A Vagina

This story was the most looked at on the BBC’s web site, so I had to link to it.

I should say it was a stone statue and the man was an American student.

June 24, 2014 Posted by | News | , | Leave a comment