Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Alas poor Midlands Mainline mugged by East Midlands Trains.

Part I - outward bound

It's not often the delights of first class travel are dangled within the grasp of my greedy paws. But when they are, with both legs, I jump at the chance; especially after having an oil painted picture of linen clothed tables, table lights, serviced tables with complimentary refreshments (including the wine), wider seats with reclining chairs... you bet I jumped at it.

However, unbeknown to either of us. The franchise from London St. Pancras to Nottingham, had been lost by Midlands Mainline to East Midlands Train. And as soon as the journey from London towards the northern territories began, a series of events brought a coruscating tear of laughter gently cascading down my right cheek.

For the travelling occasion I turned out in a pair of chinos - with matching trainers, a nice snazzy but label free jumper, and a shaved head replete of any markings. Now, not been a veteran seasoned first class traveller, perhaps it was the way that I sat, or maybe my jib was incorrectly hoisted or even folded. Either way when other, obviously seasoned first class travellers embarked and started tuttling aloud whether, "is this first class?" whilst glaring at me before moving on, I began to wonder whether it's my attire or just my second head.

But if that wasn't bad enough, then had the train skivvy, I mean guard, sorry train manager; pop along hovering by the table clearing his throat and harrumphing. We both simultaneously deigned to hand over our tickets, forcing him to actually speak. Remarkably he brusquely finally manages to get out "tickets," without spitting. Yet when he sails further down the carriage, and comes across more customers, can clearly be heard asking them "tickets Sir" or "tickets Madam". However, the sickly smile he gave us after receiving our pristine first class tickets provided a scintilla of contended gratification.

Perhaps I have been watching too many black & white films, and those days of courtesy, service, and servitude have long disappeared. Either that or my non-Russian-billionaire status, is finally starting to work against me.

Part II - inward hell

Well the return trip on the inglorious East Midlands Trains train; complete with rude staff that suck, started off with the train been diverted without warning ten minutes after pulling out from the station. The buffet car with 1.5 hours remaining of the journey promptly closed, again without any warning. No skivvy, sorry guard, no, train manager popping along to clip, sorry inspect tickets - so first class was packed and riotous.

From boarding until half way into the journey, only one member of staff was seen.

Then the odd announcement, which held verbal longings for the last days of empire. A hankering for the old days of the blessed Midlands Mainline, quivered over tinny tannoy's. The whole sorry saga made me wonder whether the train manager was also the buffet bar manager, guard, and obviously in line with the new stakeholder's ideas of general cost cutting, also the driver.

I would recommend making the trip from London to Nottingham, if you eschew this particular train company, in a Trabant! It would be far more comfortable and you'd arrive refreshed, even if without style.

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Oh Carling Brixton Academy

Where would we be without you, yes you of the award-winning live music fame. Where would we be without the noise, the low-level decibel vibrations throbbing through flats, the gig goers (invariably just out of nappies) throwing their rubbish over hedges and fences alike, throwing up in corners, even taking a leak by gates.

As a building designed and built in the 1920's, the Academy has gone through many incarnations from cinema and theatre (which closed at 11pm), to a venue for live acts. A shame that along the way, the ability of the venue to suppress noise appears to have been a very distant secondary, no, tertiary consideration. The fact that over 40 flats are less than 100-200ft. away from the venues rear seems to be missing from the radar of those in charge of the locale. But then the Skateboard Park, which should have been finished in September 2007, looks set for a spring unveiling - however, not quite sure yet which year.

What good is it having a noise inspector popping around in the afternoon, checking on the noise been generated when the gigs don't start until well into the evening and then go on till 11pm, or 2am, or 3am and sometimes even 6am; a lasting 10 hour tuning fork.

Never seen or heard a compactor at work before, but you can round here, and frequently.

And contacting the council environmental service to complain about the act's coaches parking right up outside, you are fobbed off with a there's nothing we can do. Which is strange considering that the road is on a red-route with a distinctive sign saying no parking between 7am-7pm. But from 9am in the morning until sometime well past midnight, the engine of a coach, less than 10 feet from ground floor windows, are left running. So if the vibrations pouring through don't make your head feel like exploding, the pollution pouring in through the ground level ventilation bricks will ensure carcinogens get you.

So, which councillor's been given freebies for votes!

Which moron's given the go ahead for roughshod treatment of neighbours.

Yes Lambeth Council, you are the non-caring link.

But then what do they care about 40 flats when they have the likes of: Rammstein, Massive Attack, The Clash, The Prodigy, Arcade Fire, Nine Inch Nails, Bob Dylan, HARD-Fi and Sex Pistols... amongst many others all playing there and bringing lots of people descending on Brixton - leaving happy and going back to suburbia reporting that it's not to bad a place! Indeed, as long as you ignore the knife wielding maniacs, blue and yellow Met Police signs, kids trying to sell you grass clippings by the tube station and Iceland, as well as those who should really be supervised and not in the community!

But as with all thing's, it'll be fun seeing whether there are developments.