A British Pathe film of the Blackpool promenade from 111 years ago. What it worryingly seems to prove is that some of the accommodation establishments have been there a long time. It also shows that people have always played chicken with the trams (and not just in Blackpool). One improvement though - there are less stray dogs now than appears to be the case in this film.
A Pathe news report from 1937. Honestly, if these are the highlights of the pantomime then it was either a very slow newsreel day or judgements of what constituted quality entertainment were even lower prior to Simon Cowell’s birth. As they say ‘don’t give up your day job’.
On a related issue, why do all black and white photographs or films of industrial Britain make it look like everything was covered in a thin but consistent layer of grease?
I got back from Birmingham yesterday afternoon just before 6pm. It was busy in the city centre but really in the final throes of rush hour. I’m sure most Mancunians work short hours on Fridays. Having been stunned into quiet submission from the train journey (I’m sure the direct train from Birmingham shouldn’t take so long) I decided to walk up to Piccadilly Gardens to catch the bus.
Getting onto the double decker bus I decided to opt to stand up (that train journey again) even though the bus was only about half full. I particularly like the ‘high’ chair that faces backwards in the double deckers on the lower deck (I call it the shotgun seat but that seems to upset taxi drivers and Mancunians generally). Because the chair has such a high back it is a good leaning board. It is obviously something to do with the wheelchair position but I’m not really sure what it actually does to benefit a wheelchair user.
As we were getting out of town the bus had picked up more people and was at the point where all the spare seats had been taken up except the seats available next to the scariest Mancunians (i.e. those with a clearly high cat count quotient, mis-matching buttons, staring men and women and angry people. I’m not suggesting all these categories were on this particular bus journey I am just running through the possibilities from previous observations).
It was at that point that I realised that I was unwittingly conducting a public transport experiment. I was not actually using the seat attached to the shotgun set but I was ‘using’ the space by actively using it as a leaning board. I could have been sitting in the seat in a handful of seconds but as a consequence would be taking up a space that could be filled by about three people if they were all standing. I think those around me more or less recognised this fact, they certainly weren’t making any moves to lever me out of my leaning position.
Then I thought, at what point and who would actually try to use the seat. I’ve caught enough buses in Manchester to know that someone would try. I wasn’t going to defend my position, and irrespective of whoever asked I would give up the spot (I’m like that). From where I was standing it did seem that if any more people got on the bus then attempting to use the seat would be silly and simply make the bus all the more cramped.
Sure enough. At what is normally a very quiet relatively suburban stop a number of people got on and one woman made a frantic direct route to the seat I was/wasn’t using. She said ‘Excuse me’ and I said ‘What? You are actually going to sit down here?”. She didn’t really look at me and just said “Yes” in a quite puzzled tone. As a consequence everyone standing on the lower deck on the now quite full bus had to move up to get out of her way. I’m quite a fan of sufficient personal space and clearly looking at the faces of people around me this woman had just made the bus journey that little bit more uncomfortable for a number of us. I was surprised that she believed she needed the seat but I was already in experiment mode and just observing.
I thought it had ended there. Then just before my stop I spotted a man hanging outside the pub near the bus stop smiling rather disarmingly at the bus. My immediate thought, “what are the chances of him somehow being associated with the current subject of my ire?”.
Sure enough the woman with the said seating preferences marches past me as I walk back up to the pub. Ah ha, clearly a date, and certainly an ‘interesting’ place to meet up. But I wasn’t going to find out any more unless I was going to be invited on the date like the Bird’s Eye polar bear (and that definitely wasn’t going to happen!).
So what is the etiquette for using the shotgun/high back seat. Can I rightly use it as a leaning board as an option rather than as a seat? Was her request the equivalent of asking me to give up a seat I was sitting on? Should I really be worrying about this to such a high degree of detail?
Private Eye and the Urban Dictionary taught me a new word this week - sodcasting.
Even the Guardian seems to know about sodcasting.
Because I travel on public transport I was already familiar with the practice if not its name. Sodcasting is the playing of one’s personal musical preferences on one’s own personal digital media player at high volume usually at the back of the bus. Of course other public transport routes are available such as commuter train routes.
The musical preference of sodcasters tends to verge towards the bass end of the scale which, on devices more capable at the treble end, become incredibly distorted and to the point of being unrecognisable (even if you could recognise it in the first place).
Although somewhat oddly a noticeable exception is the collected oeuvre of Lady Gaga that seems to almost be designed for sodcasting.
I do recognise a variety of opportunities for sodcasting. Surely there should be a directory of future sodcasts: “I’ll be on the 86 into town at 10.30” and perhaps a review of previous sodcasts: “Dizzy Rascal was sublime but the N-Dubz were poorly represented by the iPhone 4 on the 192 to Stockport at 19.30 on Wednesday - 2 stars”.
Some sort of logo of course is needed to indicate this particular social phenomena… here’s the starter from Google images