If anyone was expecting me to start the final week of radiotherapy treatments with a health posting, well you’re going to be wrong. For that fact, you can either thank, or be annoyed with Eric, though in truth, as I will know far more after tomorrow, and probably more on Thursday, it would be a bit of a wasted exercise anyway. Though you could say both have a tunnel in common, but seriously…
I dont know exactly when the first time I travelled under the Channel was, though given it was with my partner who I parted from in 1999, you’re talking quite a while ago, but anyway… In those days we travelled from Waterloo, not St Pancras as you would now. Indeed, even my last journey on the Eurostar was prior to 2007 (as thats when the train service was seemingly transferred), though in truth it was before moving to Yorkshire in 2005, so…I could only have travelled from Waterloo, lol.
That first time, the only high speed section of the Eurostar route started at the tunnel entrance, and continued in France and Belgium. Yes, the whole UK section prior to then was over the standard rail lines, not the special high speed one you get to travel on now. Yes, I will need to try and put that fact right once I’m up to it, wont I? I have been on weekend trips to both Brussels, and Lille, and indeed Bruges (via Brussels) with her back in the 90’s, as well as with Eric to Brussels, in the early part of this century. I know, never been to Paris, but if I’m doing the trip again, I’m sure it will be Brussels again, because I’m awkward like that, and Paris has less appeal in truth.
Thing is, if I do it now, the trip to the tunnel entrance would be totally different to anything I’ve ever travelled, literally. St Pancras International, Stratford International, and Ebbsfleet didnt even exist when I first went under the Channel. I’m not sure what the set up was at Ashford back then, but I’m pretty sure it didnt have an entirely separate International station, but dont quote me on that! Seems that now the only section that isnt really high speed is the last section into/first section out of Brussels for about 12 kilometres, though that might have changed now from when the journey was filmed that I saw (care of Eric) earlier this evening. Beyond knowing its after 2007 obviously, I dont know when it was done, in truth.
Of course, the most amusing thing about all of this is the naming of Stratford International station. Why? Simple, there are no international trains serving said station! Care of Wikipedia, I gather the plan was to use it for the trains going further north than London, but of course they never happened (not even during Olympics!), so only domestic trains have ever stopped there! In theory I could get a domestic train that stops there (remember I used to live in nearby Leytonstone, change at Ebbsfleet, or Ashford, to travel abroad, but seriously…?
Either way, the UK part of the journey would be very different to my first Eurostar journey, that is for sure.
OK, video time. Most people of my age grew up on the Roberta Flack version, people younger than me will have grown up on more modern versions, but its right to say this is far more the version as originally written, for sure
Hopefully a few of you know the video song tonight. Its one of those rare occasions where even the writer, and original singer of the song admitted that this cover version knocked his for 6! Well, it was either this, or Michael Jackson, and his wailing, and all no contest for me!
It seems that today has been declared Earth Day. Now whether this is because of the date, or whether its because its Easter Monday, I have no idea. The latter I could see, because its the day after Jesus was found to have resurrected, but if thats the significance, no idea?
I know, for some, climate change, and preservation of this planet is a tricky subject, as there are some who dont believe we have an issue. I know its hard for some simple minds (Yes, Donnie, you included) to realise that it should get below freezing in winter in places like Alaska, and the Mid West, but it does. Most people with an IQ over about 80 realise this, but unfortunately…
Sadly, some people trying to help with these issues just dont do themselves any favours. There is a group of protestors (Extinction Rebellion) currently spreading through parts of Europe trying to help matters, all well and good. Only snag is, more of them seem more interested in violent action, than the good cause, which has led to about a thousand being arrested here in the UK in the last week. To be honest, I could get their cause when they were trying to stop car traffic flow in Central London, its a major issue, in a city with decent public transport, which people could use. Then yes, you guessed it, they started attacking public transport as well! And no, I dont mean international aircraft, I mean the Light Railway, and Tube lines! I mean, their is logic in inciting people to use public transport, but stopping that too, seriously?
Kudos to my favourite city today, Los Angeles. Yes, that city with the most horrendous car traffic issues, thats the one. So today, in a (probably futile) effort to get people out of their cars, and on public transport, all buses, and all metro lines are free to travel today. I know, some still wont use it, because it might make their journey a few minutes longer, and heaven forbid, they might have to come into contact with other people too! There may be other cities doing the same, but obviously thats the one I know about, through friends.
So no, I’m not saying that everyone should switch (where possible) from car, to public transport, that would be hoping too much. Besides which, the greed of the private companies providing the service here in the UK, makes it beyond financial practicality. And in the US, well in some areas, public transit is poor, or non existent! But all I do ask, before you get in your car, to go 200 yards round the corner, to get your paper, or a couple of small items of food, that maybe you could use your legs, instead of your car, where practical? I know there are disabled people who cant walk that distance, but too many healthy bodied people do just that.
OK, rant over. The song was written, and originally sung by Neil Young. Its a great version, and well worth searching if so inclined. But the version that Young said topped his, this one, by Prelude.
OK, two fun things that came out of the trip to London this week, for my Department LGBT committee meeting, both representing a circle of sorts.
The first one isnt related to work, mind, it actually relates to the London Underground, hows that? Yes, that yellow line that goes around, and around, with seemingly no end, the Circle line. As a child, I always wondered how they decided where, and when to end a service that went around in circles, as at some point it had to start at the beginning of the day, and finish at the end. Equally, I have no idea how they reduced the service outside of peak hours either, but anyway, enough childhood musings, as I’m sure they had some clever way of doing it, but I just have no idea what it is.
But seemingly, now, its not a circle anymore, even if its still called the Circle line! Strictly, the trains do a circular route, with a ‘tail’ on one end, to take it to Hammersmith, but when that ‘circle’ gets back to Edgware Road, after a full loop, it stops, and runs back the other way. I found this out yesterday, as I thought I was being a shrewd ‘old bird’ by just staying on the Circle Line, all the way from St James Park, to Kings Cross, but still ended up having to drag my body across platforms, and up stairs (no lift) at Edgware Road, to be able to do so. If I’d known that, I could have saved myself a whole lot of time, changed at Victoria, but anyway… But yes, the Circle line is very much a misnomer nowadays, great shame, in more senses than one. It seems (thank you, Wikipedia) that it has been doing this since December 2009, which shows just how often I go to London nowadays!
I actually had another train first, the first time I’ve travelled under London, other than by tube, when I rode a Thameslink train from St Pancras, to Abbey Wood. Again, its been happening for a while, but was my first time.
The other circle I did, was a circle of work. My first ever (unsuccessful) job interview in 1974, at the age of 16, was for a junior position in the Ministry of Defence, in Westminster. I remember nothing much about it, other than that it was a very imposing building, everyone was dressed immaculately, and I had to sign various documents before I could even have an interview. This week, of course, I visited the imposing building that houses my Department in Westminster, almost certainly completing the London works circle in my life! I’m not sure if it will be my last visit to London in a works related role, though given the frailty of my back now, it might be.
But yes, the changes in 44 years, quite incredible. And yes, I wore a formal black dress, but I was the only one I saw dressed formally in that sense, lol! Back then, I’m sure every woman wore a dress, and probably heels too, which I passed on.
Next Thursday, not only am I involved in another LGBT event, this is a complete Civil Service one, and I will be there. I’m sure if you’d told that nervous 16 year old, on that first day in a government building, that this would be happening, I would have laughed at you. But yes, things have changed, for sure.
Right, video time. I didnt even need to tweak the blog title to work this one in, lol!
Well, apart from a forthcoming Olympics, I guess? But fine, that should give you a clue to tonights video at least. That really was a two way choice, but hey, this is the preferred choice. I wouldnt be surprised if you dont get the other later this month, anyway.
So, given it starts next Friday, and apart from tomorrow, this is the last posting before then, I thought I’d better give it a quick mention. No, in truth, I wont go out of my way to see much of it, especially given that the evening entertainment, which tends to be the highlights, will be overnight here in the UK.
In truth, so far at least, its beginning to look a slight non event. A vast majority of the Russian competitors are banned, due to past, and present drug enhancements of their talents, their weightlifters even being pulled, because their Federation pretty much admitted they are cheating the system. Not that I suspect that all the competitors from other countries are innocent, much the opposite in fact, but anyway…! Its fair to say that one or two sports are so tainted, it would be the ones not cheating who would be the exception, rather than the other way around!
No, I’ve never actually been to an Olympic event, which is probably something I will regret someday, especially when they were held in London, but it was my choice. Funnily enough, I’ve been to a few cities where relatively recent Olympics were held, and seen a few locations used, but thats about it.
In that sense, the obvious place to start is London, where the last Olympics were held. In fact Stratford wasnt very far from where I lived between 2003, and 2005, but given I left just after the announcement, I havent seen the stadia in person. Yes, it might have been fun to have gone back, and seen the area in 2012, but given the prices of most tickets, the travel, and accommodation costs I would have incurred, I passed on that. As I say, give me a few years, I might regret it, but for now… As I say, 1908, and 1948 really arent relevant now.
The other city with special Olympic memories for me, is Athens. Not from when it actually happened in 2004, but from when it didnt happen, but they assumed it would, in 1996. There seemed to be some confident assumption in Greece that they would get said Olympics, as the centenary of the first one held there. Thing is, for whatever reason, they didnt, Atlanta beat them, and lots of recriminations ensued. My amusing memory of all this, going out there at the end of September 1990, on holiday, and seeing numerous shirts, and tops, proudly proclaiming Athens Olympics 1996, and of course, it wasnt going to happen. Surprisingly, not, they were being sold off cheap! Yes, I got one, though of course I dont still have it now. I did actually get to see 1 historic stadium from 1896 in Athens, but that was it.
The one city where I have seen Olympic venues, is the obvious one, Los Angeles. In fact, some of the venues from both 1932, and 1984 survive, and I saw them last year, on both trips. There is talk that they are going to try to again hold them in 2024 (the reason why Metro trains are going to be connected to the Airport), but we will see. In truth, unless I’m living in the area (I only wish!) by then, I’ll probably pass, for a ‘quieter’ time in the city, a merely relative term. Its why I’m amused by the fact I love the city so much, as it, especially Hollywood, is so unlike me, but hey, it happened anyway!
I have also been to Amsterdam, but as it was held there only in 1928, there wasnt much to see!
The video, as I say, was a 2 way choice. Given my love of the eclectic humor of Mike Nesmith, my love of The Monkees as a group, and the feel of the video, this was the obvious choice.
OK, so I guess people want to know how it went? Fine, fine…
Mundane stuff first. No, I avoided the high heels, which my knees appreciated. I did wear heels though, just low block type heels, much easier to walk in, and more comfortable to wear. Having said that, my knees were still grumbling a little by the end of the day, but less than they would have done had I gone with the high heels.
Now, I’ve done a job interview in a dress before, but that was a short hop to Leeds, not all day to go down to London and back. But yes, it was fine, it was fun, and I loved every minute of it. Black, traditional, I know, but its what they seem to expect, so…
To be honest, both train journeys went fine, not a lot to report. Most fun moment of the journey down, was Starbucks, at Leeds. As you may, or may not know, when they’re busy, they ask for a name, to put on the paper (or whatever it is) cup, to make sure you get the right one. They were, and asked my name. Cool as a cucumber, I replied ‘Harlow’, always wanted to do that. Good job they didnt want a first name lol! What? Jean? Oh absolutely!
As I said, everything went fine, so I ended up at Paddington with 30 minutes or so to spare. So another coffee, pre interview, again purchased by Ms Harlow. That is just so much fun!
Then to the interview, all seemed to go pretty well, I must say. Looked good, felt good, answered well, and all that.
Then back to Kings Cross, and…because I was trying to save money, by buying advance tickets, I had to commit to a certain train. So, I allowed plenty of time, and…I ended up getting back to Kings Cross nearly an hour before my train was leaving! So fine, lunch.
I did live in London for a couple of years (03-05), and knew the place was more expensive than the rest of the country, but seriously…anyway, I paid up, had a toasted sandwich, and coffee, before heading off for my train.
Platform 2, they said, and lo and behold, there was my reserved seat waiting for me. Only thing is, about a minute later, we are being redirected to Platform 3, and no reserved seats! Thankfully, all was fine, train wasnt too busy, so…arrived back at Wakefield on time, train to Huddersfield on time, and all that.
Oh, I heard last night, by email. Again (seems a popular call of late) I did really well, but only ended up as the bridesmaid, not the bride. Ah well, there’s always Plan B, or C, or whatever lol!
The video, sums up the end result of the interview, I’m afraid
The main anniversary I got reminded of today, was something that happened 9 years ago, the series of bombings in London, that left over 50 people dead, shortly after the announcement of winning the right to hold the 2012 Olympics. Coincidence, I think not.
I still remember July 7, 2005 in fact, in some ways. Eric and Nicole were away, I believe if I remember right, on a friend’s boat, just off the Isle of Wight. I hadnt gone, as I was working, of course. I thought they knew this was my day off from work, but as events showed, maybe they hadnt, or maybe when the news struck, they simply forgot.
Anyway, simple fact, when the bombs started to explode, I was down in Leytonstone, getting some shopping. So of course, what happened, they rang home to check on me, and got no reply. Then I get home, hear the news, but dont know they called. That evening, they called again, were relieved to hear the news I was fine, had been no further than town, and relaxed.
You could say I was lucky, and maybe I was, though none of the explosion were on any route I would have taken, but getting home would have been awful from Highbury, so…
Yes, it could have been a lot worse. Lets just remember all that died that day, in those awful events.
The second anniversary? On this day, in 1973, Veronica Lake died, in Vermont. RIP, honey
No music tonight, just wouldnt be right.