Year Two.

About   As you may have surmised, I'm going to be spending this month trying on a few of the old clothes to see if they still fit.  In the second year, I hadn't really become desperate enough to start any "blogging projects" and was most mixing a few personal items with link posts and film reviews.  At the time I'd begun a new job at Liverpool Direct, the then council call centre run in conjunction with BT which had an eclectic shift pattern that involved a week of 2pm to 10pm shifts every other fortnight (until we went on strike and they stopped as was reported in the Echo at the time) so much like the previous year, it's amazing that anything was posted here at all.

Blog! was an attempt to provoke a reciprocal link by crowning something Blog of the Day.  There's a few examples here.  Often it worked, like the time Wil "Wesley" Wheaton linked back at the start of his blogging journey (in a post when he was also bitching about not getting a role in Rules of Attraction which is presumably why that post has disappeared from the blog as it is now).  One of the first I linked to was LinkMachineGo which is still going strong and still links here often.  Thanks Darren!

TV  Doctor Who's Evil of the Daleks is coming soon which for my interests means we'll be getting a decent recon of the episodes and a remastered copy of the surviving episode two.  The special features also include a making of and the audiobook recorded by Tom Baker although sadly it's not in character as per Power.  I wonder if it'll include the scenes removed in this 1992 release because they couldn't clear the rights to The Beatles and The Searchers.

Film  Last night I watched Doug Liman's Locked Down, sure to be part of what's seen as a genre of films set in this past couple of years about people stuck in their own homes for months on end dealing with various existential crises.  It's absolutely delightful, a new riff on the old re-marriage screwball genre crossed with a heist.  Anne Hathaway's advertising exec dumped her delivery driver boyfriend Chiwetel Ejiofor just before lockdown and now they're stuck trying to avoid each other in a house which isn't small by London standards, but still too close for emotional comfort.  The firecracker script captures those months perfectly (presumably because they were living through it) including the Thursday night doorstep pan smashing for the NHS.  Locked Down has attracted some exceedingly sniffy reviews most of which accuse it of being disposable which misses the point that it's not supposed to be some profound comment on the pandemic.  Those will come later.

History  The New York Historical Society have unearthed early plans for the World Trade Center which I'd imagine would be a difficult read even for people outside the city.  The posted diagrams are chilling, presenting the stairwells in which people were trapped and the position of the towers within the grounds.  I'm not sure if I was fortunate or not to have been ill from work that day and around to witness the television broadcast or simply realised something was happening when the phones stopped at the call centre.

Science  Obligatory Guardian link and Kevin Smith reference.  Flying car makes successful test run between airports in Slovakia.  Of course what people are expecting is The Jetsons but this should be enough to keep Randall happy for a while.

Also...  over on YouTube ... Brie Larson has announced that she's slowing down the posting frequency to her YouTube channel so she can return to her day job or as the rest of the known universe calls it, acting in The Marvels ... LGR introduces us to a CRT screen from 1991 with a pivot which works with both DOS and Windows 3.1 (and compatible software) ... Techmoan turns a medical surplace printer into a selfie machine ... Study Vibes received her exam results ... finally, Be Kind Rewind has a fascinating video essay about Madonna's classic film influences.

Commuter Tales.

Commuter Life   Twenty years ago at the start of this blog, I'd just begun travelling to Manchester to work at the Royal Bank of Scotland credit card centre.  Writing that sentence still feels weird because of the long standing rule about not talking about work, but it's there for all to see on the rolling CV post I began when I was 35 so there's no need to be cagey about it now.  God knows why it occurred to me to start a blog at the same time as a job which was going to take at least two and a half hours out of the day travelling but you have a lot more energy in your mid-twenties and even though days and evenings are the same length, they just seem to last longer.

Now of course, my commute consists of a half hour walk ... somewhere ... and there's not a lot to write about, nothing like this anecdote.  Even if there was, I'd probably post it on Twitter first now that I have the internet in my pocket and don't have to wait until I get home and the dial-tone becomes available after 9pm as per an agreement with my parents when they capitulated to the idea of signing up for BT Surftime's evening and weekend package.  Plus for a large part of this year I was working from home, so the commute pretty much consisted of walking two or three feet and sitting down at this table.

But recently, very recently, I've been travelling on trains again.  Not for work though.  After having spent so much of last year indoors but not feeling confident enough to travel very far, I decided at the start of the summer that I'd walk to all of the Merseyrail Network, or at least the Northern and Wirral Line sections of it.  Although I considered the City Line too, briefly, some of the stations are ridiculously far apart on foot.  Of course, now that I'm writing this and glancing at the map again, the sections inside the margins look potentially do-able.  Best put a pin in that for now.

When I initially mentioned this project to people, some of them assumed this would include some lawbreaking because I'd be actually walking along the rails Stand-By-Me style.  Imagine the relief when I explain that I'm "just" walking from station to station with Google Maps as a guide.  Mostly this involves hiking along the main road which runs parallel to the train line which can either be very close or half a mile away depending on the amount of green space or suburbia in between.  On the first day, from St Michaels to Hunts Cross, that amounted to walking the length of Aigburth Road then dipping along the side streets when necessary.

So far I've completed all stations to New Brighton and West Kirby and I'm two thirds into the Chester Line.  Some days have been idyllic.  The trip between Moreston and Meols involved following the Wirral Circular Trail past Leasowe Lighthouse and along Meols Beach with views of the Irish Sea.  The tide was out and the wet sand was dotted with beached boats offering scenes not unlike dozens of the kinds of landscape paintings I saw when visiting all of those Public Art Collections in North West England.  I eventually stood on a beach at West Kirby which was another happy day.  So many of these lines end at the seaside.

But most of these walks are a trudge though suburbia, houses large and small, mansions and terraces.  This can be difficult to navigate both geographically and visually, especially in somewhere like Tranmere where architectural styles and building materials clash, with sometimes no two houses in the same street matching.  On reaching Rock Ferry there was nothing to do but listen to Duffy's Rockferry in which she sings about building a house with sorrow, and it seems like a lot of people have done exactly that over many years.  Yes, I know she's not singing about this Rock Ferry.  She made it up.  It's Porthmadog on the single cover.

You can follow the project on this Twitter thread, where I post a photo of some aspect of each station when I arrive.  Most don't really lend themselves to anything too scenic or just consist of a couple of platforms, so often I'll snap the station sign and move on.  As long as the name is in there somewhere, that's fine.  It's nice to have a little routine at each stop just to give it a sense of achievement.  I wonder if anyone has attempted similar elsewhere in the country.  Has anyone ever tried to walk the tube network in London?  Perhaps that could be my next project, post-pandemic.  For now, onwards to Capenhurst.

Updated:  @bandanachap on Twitter points me towards Mark Mason's Walk the Lines: The London Underground, Overground in which the author does indeed walk the Tube network.  Not that it's going to stop me.