Saturday 12 July 2014

It's All Happening (well it was on Saturday 5th)

Chunk Number One

The A-Team was an American action-adventure television series, running from 1983 to 1987, about a fictional group of ex–United States Army Special Forces personnel.
In 1972, a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn't commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire the A-Team.

John "Hannibal" Smith (played by the late George Peppard) is the Master of Disguise. He dresses most often in a white trenchcoat and black leather gloves. He also is constantly seen smoking a cigar. Hannibal carries either a Browning Hi Power, Colt M1911A1 or a Smith and Wesson Model 39 as a sidearm most often "Mexican Carried" although he uses a holster when on missions. His catchphrase is, "I love it when a plan comes together."

Often his plans did not "come together" and a deus ex machina** was needed to resolve the malfunction!

But a week ago today, fbb and Mrs fbb's plans came together beautifully. Their missions were diverse in the extreme. Mrs fbb was off to a monthly prayer and bible study in Wimbledon; whilst the fat bus bloke was visiting his long-time chum in Sutton Coldfield.
"Er indoors" travelled on the same train to Basingstoke, meeting up with several other "girls" (ha!) on the way.
And this is how fbb would expect them to do it; with a nice easy same interchange at Woking; a toddle along to platform No 3.
But they don't. They catch the next train from Basingstoke; make a more stressful change at Clapham Junction and travel back to Wimbledon. Mrs fbb opines, "it gets you there earlier."
Indeed; two minutes earlier, but at the cost of a less pleasant hike from Platform 7 to 11 at Clapham Junction; steps and/or lifts included.
But your chubby blogger and his lovely wife were able to travel in marital harmony between Axminster and Basingstoke.

And the return journey ... ?

fbb's was via Exeter ...
... whilst Mrs, now independent of "the girls" followed hubby's advice.
Before this happy tale reaches its dénouement, a word of explanation is necessary.
This is Axminster looking "up", i.e. towards London. The train in the picture is going "down", i.e. towards Exeter. All very logical and traditional. But, for the forseeable future, not any longer at Axminster. Apparently the super smashing electronic signalling kit has thrown a wobbly and no-one can sort the computer out.
So "up" trains now use platform 1 (right) and "down" trains pull into platform 2 (left). What they need is a computer expert.
Thus it was that Mrs fbb alighted (left) at 2002, toddled across the footbridge and, as her dainty tread touched the platform surface, fbbs more substantial baffs exited from his train from Exeter (right).

The rest, we can leave to our readers' imagination.
Whoops; no sea at Axminster!

Don't you just love it when a plan comes together. Eat your heart out, Hannibal Smith.

On a more serious note; we often hear complaints of high fares, unreliability and poor service from the UK's utterly disjointed railway system. Often this is true! But, for millions of folk making millions of journeys each year, it works well. The joint fbb experience last Saturday was throughly straightforward. Of course it could be better; Cross Country's reservation system is irritating in the extreme, for example. But it was a good day all round. Let the train take the strain. This is the age of the train (despite the disgrace of the "front" for the advertising campaign).

** Deus ex Machina : a bit of culture from fbb!

The phrase deus ex machina is latin; deus, meaning "a god", ex, meaning "from", and machina, meaning "a device, a scaffolding, an artifice". Such a device was referred to by Horace in his Ars Poetica (lines 191 to 2), where he instructs poets that they should never resort to a "god from the machine" to resolve their plots "unless a difficulty worthy a god's unraveling should happen". He was referring to the conventions of Greek tragedy, where a machine is used to bring actors playing gods onto the stage. The machine could be either a crane (mechane) used to lower actors from above or a riser that brought actors up through a trapdoor. In badly written drama, the machine was an easy way out of a troublesome plot situation.
In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry's life is saved when his and Voldemort's wand connect causing the effect Priori Incantatem. Although the fact that their two wands share a feather from the same phoenix was made known in the first book of the series, the effect of the two wands connecting is not revealed or even mentioned until Harry escapes.
Sadly, after fbb had fixed up his Brum  trip, he discovered that something else was happening.
Bus station, Saturday 5th July 10am - 4pm
FREE vintage bus rides 10.30am - 3pm
FREE rides through the bus wash
Donations gratefully received in support charity Dream-a-Way
Memorabilia stands, Radio and Express & Echo also on site
Photographic exhibition of the bus station through the years

fbb will fill in the gaps tomorrow.
No. 1 son is a speaker at Wikimania this coming August.
Wikimania is a 2000+ person conference, festival, meetup, workshop, hackathon, and celebration, spread over five days in August 2014, preceded and followed by fringe events. It's the official annual event of the Wikimedia movement, where you'll discover all kinds of projects that people are making with wikis and open content, as well as meet the community that produced the most famous wiki of all, Wikipedia!

No 3 son's role, as illustrated in the on-line preview is ...
... demonstrating his world-famous skills as a player of an invisible saxophone.
 Next bus station blog : Sunday 13th July 


  1. I do hpe Mrs FBB had a ticket that enabled her to overshoot her destination and return - plain Axminster to Wimbledon would presumably not be valid via Clapham Junction (or would it?)

  2. Yes it is. The restriction is "not via London". The via Clapham Junction option is a "regular" on the journey planner as trains from Axminster stop there (but not the 0630!)

  3. National Rail Enquires does state that "more than 1 ticket is required" if travelling via Clapham Junction which makes it more expensive. An Axminster to Wimbledon ticket would not be valid for doubling back between Clapham Junction and Wimbledon, and if caught at Clapham Junction Mrs Fbb would be liable for a penalty fare.

  4. Not according to the man in the ticket office at Axminster!

  5. IIRC The loop at Axminster opened as Right hand running, it was easier to have the departing train go through the slower side of the points as it wouldn't have to slow so much compared with an arriving service as 159s take a while to get up speed.

    Then a couple of years ago they swapped it back to Left hand running for some reason.

    So I take it they've gone back to Right hand running again.

  6. Correct anon, but because of the signalling glitch referred to.