It's been a long time coming. A very long time. But finally there are new trains on Merseyrail.
Monday, 23 January 2023
Wednesday, 18 January 2023
I was, briefly, in That London last week. The ostensible reason was so I could cross off seeing the Abba holograms. I was one of the few homosexuals in Britain who still hadn't seen it and they were threatening to make me a straight if I didn't hurry up. The actual, secret, main reason I was going to London was so I could visit
Crossrail the Elizabeth Line.
I have been following the Crossrail Project for literally decades. I remember seeing reports of it on Newsroom SouthEast, back when it was being proposed by British Rail (I may not be young). I've watched it slowly crawl through Government and TfL until a spade went in the ground. I visited an exhibition at the Royal Institute of British Architects all about the design of the station. I watched, enviously, as bloggers and Twitter users and people I actually know in real life travelled down to London and experienced the new shiny world of Crossrail.
I planned my route. I was staying in a hotel near Stratford International station, at the back of Westfield. A moment, by the way, to say that the area around there - the former Olympic village - is a completely desolate space. It reminds me of when I visited Canary Wharf back in the early 90s. It's a lot of tall buildings with very few people; impeccably manicured lawns and nobody to use them. Anyway, I decided I would do the patented Merseytart exploration of the line:
STRATFORD →→→ WHITECHAPEL
LIVERPOOL STREET →→→ FARRINGDON
TOTTENHAM COURT ROAD →→→ BOND STREET
PADDINGTON →→→ CANARY WHARF
That way I'd cover the core tunnels, plus I'd visit the huge Canary Wharf station. If I had time I'd jump back on the train and visit Woolwich, because I'd been there when it was just a big hole in the ground so it'd be good to compare and contrast, but the main part was visiting the central underground stations.
I sadly boarded the train. They're nice enough - not a very satisfying noise, I'll be honest - but they were clean and open. Passengers were taking them for granted. I was the only idiot looking at them.
Thursday, 13 October 2022
When I was a child, a thing we would do was go Up The Airport. We'd get in the back of my dad's van then go across town to Luton Airport. We'd park up at the viewing area by the runway, sit on a bench, and look at the aeroplanes taking off. Sort of. This was Luton Airport in the 1980s, so it wasn't exactly a relentless barrage of 747s. Now and then a small charter plane would appear. We'd badger my mum and dad for a burger or an ice cream from the viewing area café and never get one. This is what passed for entertainment in the days when all the telly could offer on a Sunday was religion, politics and Mahabharat.
The highlight for me, every time, was when we could persuade our parents to let us poke around the airport terminal. It was fairly new at that time, built out of red bricks and concrete and looking like the headquarters of a minor building society. It's still there in fact, buried under successive terminal expansions: it's the location of that Burger King on Google Maps:
Even at the age of nine or ten the exciting part for me was a bit of transport infrastructure. We only went on one holiday abroad when I was growing up, when my dad had to go to Malta for work and so we managed to tag along to the free accommodation, so airports were still places of unimagined glamour and excitement. The Departures area was low lit and had a shiny marble floor, plus a single shop that sold everything you needed for a holiday - sun tan lotion, shades, magazines. We would once again try to persuade our parents to buy us something from here, not being old enough to understand the phrase "outrageous mark up", and we'd once again be denied. Then we'd go home.