Advent 16: Trains, Delays and Overcrowding

And now we move into the next set of posts: Significant Events in 2012.

I’m going to try and move through the year in some kind of sequential order but I’m not going to try and address universally significant events. It’ll just be significant events for me.

On the 2nd of July 2010 I created a new twitter account at the suggestion of my Awesome Friend Lorna. This account was initially created to use during my daily commute to and from work. It was supposed to just be funny observations about the things people do on the train and somewhere I could give silly names to real people. It wasn’t meant to be serious, it was only meant to be a small thing.

Things ticked along without anyone really paying attention to what I was doing, friends thought some of the names I gave passengers were funny and shared with a few other friends. I hovered around the 200 followers mark which is, frankly, too many people paying attention to the In My Head names I give people I see on a regular basis. The In My Head Names is a hangover from my teaching days. If I didn’t know your name I would quickly find something to force myself to remember your name. It would either be that your face reminded my of someone famous (I taught Dave Grohl, Marilyn Munroe and Jimmy Stewart during my days in London) or there’d be something particular/peculiar that I could hang my recollections of you on and then be able to use that as a hook when telling my friends about you. It also could mean that everything could be denied because you would have to work really hard to prove that you were BloatyHead or Santa Claus.

Every commuter that caught my eye on a daily commute would get a name. The first that caught my eye was a lady with very stiff hair in a particularly sharp bob, you’ll immediately know the sort when I tell you I named her The Lady With Lego Hair. There was a man who only traveled briefly with me and he read a different Chris Ryan book each day he became “The Man Who Reads Chris Ryan” and that was shortened by the end of the week to Chris Ryan. He then vanished and I’ve never seen him since. I like to think that the Chris Ryan books were part of his training and he’s been deployed somewhere dangerous. (I’m totally aware that he’s probably just changed his journey or work times or moved somewhere) These commuters are background actors in the story of my life and tweeting about them and their antics shoves them centre stage. People would ask if I was worried one day they’d find my twitter feed and there would be an angry mob waiting for me one morning. It’d be fine, I only had a few followers, what could possibly go wrong.

Well, gentle reader, things didn’t go wrong but things did go bigger. I was slowly moving from just being an observer/storyteller about my commute to wanting to be an activist, feeling the same kind of responsibility to my fellow commuters as I did to my friends and neighbours in Lightmoor.

We’ll skip forward and I’ve been approached by some film makers from the BBC Panorama programme to follow my commute and capture some footage of overcrowding and delays. I’d also answer questions during an interview in Birmingham City Centre and, bizarrely, be filmed for three hours bowling for some cut away shots that were never used.

The programme goes out on a Monday evening and I’m nervously watching waiting for gales of laughter from my friends as the bowling footage gets beamed out nationally. No bowling for panorama, thank goodness. However the presenter, Vivian White, read out my twitter profile name and my phone started buzzing as people started tweeting me and following the profile and I realised too late that I hadn’t switched off email and phone notifications on twitter. I added a thousand new followers in ten minutes. My phone stopped buzzing after 200 in what seemed like a fit of protest. Most tweeted message that evening was “I’ve seen you on telly. LOL”. (Which was factually accurate. I had also seen myself on telly. LOL)

I thought people would follow me briefly and then find someone else to follow. Most have stuck around, I’ve had some abuse from train drivers and anon people that really really love London Midland Trains. I suspect some of those anon people work for London Midland but I could never prove it. They keep telling me that people who complain about London Midland should just “shut up”.

I often jokingly complain that of all the fun things I’m involved with the thing that’s got me the most coverage was started with complaining about commuting.


This entry was posted in Advent, commuting, storytelling and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Advent 16: Trains, Delays and Overcrowding

  1. warero says:

    Reblogged this on Javmode.

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