11 December 2009

And one of the last ones home - 2237 From Charing Cross to Brockley

On account of the engineering works this weekend I am now on one of the last direct services from Charing Cross to Brockley. It feels very civilised - and a bit sad that this is happening - there is not even the prospect of a high frequency tube service to make up for it.

To me it does not feel that the publicly-supported railway industry is addressing the wants of either hard-pressed commuters coming home in the early evening or the people who actually live in London so that they can enjoy the West End, the theatre, a drink, meet with friends or like me go to my German nightclass.

I am sure I will find a new routine quickly - but it won't be as convenient. It will take a bit longer, will involve changing trains and using tubes more but will not be any cheaper - how I love being able to sit in a comfy seat for a good 20 mins reading a book or a paper. I am sure my irritations will be shared by a sizeable proportion of the 11.5 million people going in and out of our stations in a year.

Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

The last train to Charing Cross.

Southern's service cuts programme came closer today with the last 0532 direct service to Charing Cross.

Tonight I'll be catching the direct service from Charing Cross for the last time.

From a personal perspective these services provide a very convenient and direct link with Central London. I am sure I'm not alone in regretting the cutting of these services - and certainly the level of interest shown by the local groups, commuters and Lewisham Council demonstrates this.

Planning timetables and the like takes months - so it was almost inevitable that when the new timetable was published without the direct services to Charing Cross it was a 'done deal'. I hope we have an opportunity now to push once again to reverse the proposed changes brought in on the back of the East London Line (saw one of the trains the other day).

The meeting with Southern, local Councillors and the Mayor to discuss these cuts has been set for 17th of this month. Too late for these cuts to the Charing Cross service.

And so it is I arrive, for the last time, on a direct train, at Charing Cross. For once it's on time and I'll arrive on the tube platform just as a train arrives...and I did!

1 December 2009

Tribute to Mallaig

Not an article about the small fishing town on the west coast of Scotland, but a tribute to our cat, Mallaig, who died this morning.

We got Mallaig when he was a kitten in September 1995. For those of you who met him you'll know that he had a bit of a character and a few bad habits - the worse of which was to urinate in places other than his litter tray. He was very purry and also dribbled a bit, he liked lying around on soft cushions, duvets and in front of the fire. However, now is the time when I can go public about the time when unbeknown to us he wet the sofa just before a local party meeting. It was not until after the meeting we realised that a potential new member had spent the entire evening sitting on that patch. She never came again. Still Mallaig's attempts at marking his territory and single-pawedly attempting to restrain the Green Party in Lewisham do not appear to have worked terribly well.

On a lighter note there was also the time when the cat took a liking to bright stringy Christmas decorations - we'd not used these previously. He certainly looked festive with the strings hanging out of his bottom - however the sight of him playing with strands of pooh wrapped around the same strings was less so.

I hope that the wren he caught a few years ago will be able to forgive him - I was not at all impressed when he brought the lovely little fellow in.

Mallaig was clearly getting older in recent months, had lost a bit of weight, had a heart murmur and was under the vet for treatment for a thyroid problem. I found him lying dead in the garden this morning and his posture appeared to show a very sudden and hopefully relatively painless death. We quickly buried him this morning and gave all of his remaining cat food to the Celia Hammond Animal Trust.

Thinking about myself, when I looked through some old pictures of the cat, I was struck by (a) how young I looked in the photographs and (b) I didn't have any idea of how my life could develop over those 14 or so years when the cat would be alive.

Despite his flaws, we loved him and will miss him.