Justice, Jobsworth and the banning of Passion in Oxford

April 22, 2014

Months have passed since I last wrote anything here, mainly because I am usually either writing thousands of words a week elsewhere or am travelling. It has been a week of interest and oddities, in the press and in real life, and I thought I would capture some of it here. It is a kind of palate-cleanser for me, not an alternative to writing about eDiscovery / eDisclosure but a relief from the weekend spent largely doing just that.

The Ritz, the Tower and the Thames

RitzPhoneBox_250I gave a day-job talk on Tuesday for HP Autonomy at the Ritz. My subjects were twofold: the first was a reminder that the purpose of eDiscovery is to find evidence and improve one’s understanding of the case, not merely to find documents; the second was to suggest that whilst civil justice seemed to be going fast down the pan thanks to a combination of an ignorant Justice Secretary, a useless Ministry of Justice and some Court of Appeal judges whose idea of real-life bears no relation to real life, there were nevertheless opportunities for those ready and willing to take them.

My next meeting was close to the Tower of London, and I came out of it into the beginnings of a glorious evening with time on my hands before my train. It was an opportunity to merge two of my passions – walking city streets and photography – and I have some new camera kit to get used to. I entirely buy Malcolm Gladwell’s idea that you need hours of practice to be good at anything and I need to practice in the same way as soldiers learn to dismantle and reassemble their guns so that it became second nature. Equipment includes a tripod, the camera, a wi-fi trigger and an iPhone, all of which takes some assembly even before you get to the controls and settings. It is also slightly cumbersome to carry amidst the tourist throngs of Tower Hill

2WrensMonument_400
You don’t need all this kit to take decent photographs of the Tower and the Thames on a sunny evening. What I do find, and it is one of the reasons why I carry a camera, is that I become much more observant if I have a camera with me. I am not sure, for example, if I would have noticed this arrangement of two Wren churches and the Monument if I had not been equipped to photograph it. Read the rest of this entry »

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Two FGW trains on time in one day proves a one-off

June 29, 2008

It was (lack of) service as usual on First Great Western on the day after an unprecedented piece of good time-keeping. If FGW paid as much attention to providing a service as they do protecting their revenue, we might be happier to contribute to their profits.

Something quite outside my experience occurred last week. My First Great Western train into London and the one which brought me out both ran to time.

This is like those fabled happenings which one hears of but never quite believes – Gordon Brown is not always unpleasant to everyone he meets; Ed Balls can let a day go by without either launching an “initiative” or filing an expenses claim; there is a highways officer at Oxfordshire County Council with an IQ in double figures; a Phoenix has been seen in Oxford. None of these seems in the least plausible, but if FGW can run two trains on time in one day then anything is possible. Read the rest of this entry »


All announcements and no information at FGW

June 9, 2008

It would be useful (for the passengers at least) if the people who run First Great Western stations were to spend some time standing around on platforms, like the rest of us have to, totting up the ratio between the endless announcements thrown at us and the information actually conveyed by them.

They would find that, like the notices erected by the dumb animals who work in local authorities, and the stream of nannying advice poured over us by government and its many agencies, the value of the messages is in inverse proportion to their quantity. Read the rest of this entry »


Alienation in my own land

March 4, 2008

The state of the nation was neatly summed up between trains at Reading station one day last week.

For the second time that week I had bounded out of a west-bound train and dashed across to Platform 8 in time to see the doors lock on a train heading north to Oxford and beyond. Both trains were running to time so it is deliberate time-tabling which ensures that one cannot do a seamless change. Well, it may be deliberate – some venomous little bureaucrat spotting an opportunity to inflict a little more misery on those who are compelled to suffer the “service” which First Great Western offer to those who pay the wages; it may just be stupidity. Read the rest of this entry »


Meet the Managers at First Great Western

January 24, 2008

My fury at First Great Western’s inability even to be honest (one does not expect competence) as I eventually pulled out of Oxford Station on Tuesday (see Incompetence or Dishonesty at FGW) made me determined to take up their invitation to Meet the Managers on the way back.

Unlike at the ticket office, there was no great queue to meet the drone who had been delegated to field the complaints, and I stood behind a couple who were complaining about the removal of the Travel Centre which, they said, they had often used and much missed (see FGW closes Oxford Travel Centre) . Read the rest of this entry »


Incompetence or dishonesty at FGW – both probably

January 24, 2008

The fare for my occasional journeys to London has risen by nearly 10% since 1 January. The quality of the service seems to have decreased by about the same. Just like last year then.

The ticket windows at Oxford station look just the same as they did before the recent and extremely inconvenient works there. I had hoped that the plan was to add another one to cope with the queues, but why should they bother with that? Once the cash-cow – the passengers, or “customers” as we are mockingly called – are into the station, they are probably committed to travelling by train, so what does it matter if we have to queue? Read the rest of this entry »


A journey by train from Oxford to London

December 9, 2007

An evening trip to London by train illustrates how the “customers” are let down by those who provide their “services”. It affects life more than New Labour corruption.

The extent to which we are serfs to the so-called service providers was illustrated four times before the train pulled out of Oxford station.

First you have to get to the station. Every time I queue down Hythe Bridge Street, I curse the valuable time taken from me by the thickest of all thick public servants, the highways officers of Oxfordshire County Council. What inversion of society’s priorities means that flotsam like that can waste hours out of the lives of so many real people, people with jobs and lives that matter? Read the rest of this entry »