‘Twitter is more reliable than London Waterloo railway station staff’ – Zella Compton

Zella regularly has to sniff other commuters' armpits on the crowded train home from London
Zella regularly has to sniff other commuters' armpits on the crowded train home from London

There’s nothing like arriving at Waterloo of an evening and discovering that, yet again, the board is displaying a row of delayed trains.  I pop up to London once a week and on my return journey experience this exact problem pretty much all the time.

I can vaguely remember the last time I got to the station, and my expected train arrived and departed and made it back to the harbour on schedule.

It was months ago.

You arrive at the station with all hopes.

And then notice the looks on everyone’s faces, crowded behind the line watching with raptor-like anticipation, poised to run as a pack, as the board flashes with its omens of fate: no luck, don’t bother, go find a hotel.

It’s always the biggest decision though, isn’t it, whether to squeeze onto the slow train as that’s leaving with its destination of every station ever.

Or risk it and wait for the fast one which might never leave?

But you get swept into the glorious rush for the first one, especially as the harried station staff are completely useless at delayed train knowledge.

No one even bothers to speak to them anymore, as a perfectly respectable question of ‘should I stay or should I go?’ is always too much.

Perhaps I never found the right person to ask before I gave up trying?

So there you are, on the slow train, becoming unwillingly acquainted with what the person next to you ate last, or what their armpits smell like after a swift jog along the platform. 

Then you realise that there is a tiny chance you might get overtaken by the fast train and with some tactical thinking you could change for a glory ride right to the station.

And that’s where the beauty of the less harried staff come in.

Those manning the Twitter account who, much more regularly than the trains running on time, can give you live feedback of where your train is, and where the other one.

The tweeters will also tell you all where you should hop off and change, and also which platform you want and how long you’ll need to wait.

It’s time to just suck it up and let Theresa May get on with it

Okay, I admit it, I want Theresa May to stay. Who knows if she will be in power by the time my column is printed, it’s all moving so quickly. 

But any of her MPs who moves against her now is moving against the country, and Brexit. Who, with half a brain, reckons a new leader can be in place and negotiate another deal?

Do people think it’s Theresa rolling up her sleeves and arguing it out? It’s the hordes of civil servants who’ll be doing that. What are they going to do with some other self-serving idiot in charge?

Give our country a chance to fight its way out of this bag of poop, and leave her, with at least an ounce of a plan, to get something done.

Goodbye to the old lump that kept us planck constant

There’s a big change taking place in the world of the kilogram.

I was delighted to discover there’s a master lump of metal kept in Paris which determines a kilogram’s weight – it reminded me of Gringotts from Harry Potter.

But actually the lump of metal, which has been in use since 1889, has turned out to be non-accurate. It collects debris from being handled and dropping it alters its weight. It’s being retired and replaced with electromagnetic force.

Fantastically, the new value of a kilogram is called ‘planck constant’ and the way it’s measured is on a Kibble balance so there’s still elements of wizardry there, or science as we now call it.