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Is your journey really necessary? - The Titfield Thunderbolt
Heisenberg might have stayed here
qatsi
qatsi
Is your journey really necessary?
I remember the days when they used to advise people "not to travel unless absolutely necessary". Although there was plenty of warning about this week's storms, I don't recall hearing anyone issuing this advice this time around. And what is "necessary", anyway? I certainly wouldn't regard my trip to work as necessary - not for a single day, anyway. For me, it has more to do with frequency, with existing arrangements and committments, with substitutability. In this case, I had tickets for The News Quiz on 18th January, and that wasn't going to happen again. I checked the BBC information line which reported no changes to their plans, and First Great Western claimed to be running some trains to Paddington, so I decided not to change mine, either.

After enduring the chaos at Reading station, we boarded a train and I observed to kharin that 50mph was a "fast" train in the same sense that £13 was a "cheap" day return. We'd taken half-day holidays; he went to a Hockney exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, I went to the British Library's exhibition London: A Life in Maps. Beginning with a few Roman coins showing early symbols of London, the exhibition runs through mediaeval maps with their pictorial depications, panoramic views, through before-and-after Great Fire maps, villages and suburbs, planning, into the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. I think the highlights for me were the views of the old St Paul's Cathedral (both with and without its spire), and an interesting volume taken from the Lufwaffe showing maps from c.1940 identifying bombing targets. Of course, a version of the Beck tube map appeared, discreetly in a corner. I found some of the labelling a bit confusing, but one can't complain too much when it's free, and as predicted by example22, bought the catalogue afterwards.

On to the Drill Hall, where we met up with uitlander to see The News Quiz being recorded. It was fun; having heard the broadcast last night I'm pleased the quip about Sandi Toksvig "putting soldiers in her mouth" was retained (boiled eggs, you understand)- thank goodness there's no watershed on radio. Charlotte Green doesn't have the physical presence you might expect from her voice; Andy Hamilton really has no neck. There's an awful lot of chatter and amusement cut - something like 90 minutes trimmed to 30, it must be quite a job for the editing team.

uitlander introduced us to the mystery of London buses for the return trip to Paddington, where there was predictable chaos. I took heart from the fact that people seemed to be looking at departure boards, rather than milling around aimlessly, so I presumed they were being led to believe that trains would eventually depart. Fortunately, a direct train for Reading was in fact waiting; I suggested that uitlander should accompany us as it was the only train with a platform listed, but the logistical problems of a car in Slough prevented that, and in fact other trains for Slough were listed only as "delayed" rather than "cancelled", so we took a view that they would probably follow our train. It's been a tiring week, had I known I wouldn't have planned all these things to coincide, but it hasn't turned out too badly.

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