Getting back to the fun

I’ve been very lax on the fun front of late. I still note the fun, it’s just that these posts are probably the most finickety to compile and take forever – it says something about my respect for my time that it’s taken a back seat recently! But, I feel remiss, and there is fun to be had…

First off, obviously, would be a little bit of London fun. I had my own, real-life transport fun last weekend (more on that anon), but there is also fun of a virtual nature. Namely, maps. Bearing in mind that I’ve haven’t Friday-Funned since way before Christmas, there’s some catching up to do. I assume we’ve now all seen Londonist’s Medieval Tube Map? [No fewer than 10 people sent that gem to me! It’s utterly genius!] What about a tube map from the 1920’s? i.e. a pre-Beck map

1920 Tube Map

Away from the fun of city living, some music based data analysis. (What do you mean, this doesn’t sound fun??) The most popular lyrics/words of the Billboard chart have been visualised so we can explore the way in which lyrics have changed over the decades. My favourite discovery? ‘Christmas’ was a top 5 word in the 40’s and 50’s – to be replaced by ‘U’ in the 90’s and 2000’s, and profanity in the 2010’s… Fascinating stuff!

Billboard Lyrics Visualisation

On a totally different topic, we’re now firmly into awards season. Hurrah for pointless red carpets and meaningless recognition! [Seriously, HOW is The Lego Movie not nominated for Best Animated Picture at the Oscars??] But most of all, hurrah for excellent awards hosts. Next month, Neil Patrick Harris takes on the Oscars, which, if his Tony Award hosting is anything to go by, should be full of hilarity. Last weekend saw Tina Fey and Amy Poehler’s final outing as the hosts of the Golden Globes and were fabulous – their opening monologue deserves watching, should you have been living in Outer Mongolia for the last week and unaware of their extremely witty brilliance. 

Finally, for some fun of an utterly ridiculous (yet strangely captivating) nature, how about a compilation of ‘Jessica Fletcher’s many epiphanies from Murder, She Wrote’? Yes, it’s nearly an hour long, but the first 10 minutes (before I realised how long it was) scored at least 6 chuckles. Who doesn’t love Angela Lansbury??

Friday Fun with maps, stats & improv

The rain’s pouring down outside and there are still 5 hours of the working week left to work. But fear not, there is fun!

For a start, we have a lot of London-related fun. Firstly, let’s celebrate the end of a commuting week with some photos of just how beautiful the tube can look when not full of commuters:

Beautiful TubeQuestion is, can you guess the station? In fact, make the slideshow more fun by turning it into a game! 

A favourite element of Friday Fun is the combining of maps and statistics. Helpfully, the Guardian recently compiled some of the best London infographics, which was then followed up this week by the BBC doing the same – but with different maps. [All come from the same source – London: The Information Capital.] In fact, the BBC article breaks the infographics down a bit, so is potentially a better read. Favourites of mine included:

Heathrow lost & foundLost property at Heathrow in 2013. 

British passport holders by countries of birth Passports 2

The BBC article actually explains this very badly. From the census question cited, this ought to be a representation of the countries Londoner’s hold passports for. The article captioned the graphic as being the countries in which London residents were born. If it’s the latter, I’m proud to be a member of a group of only 1.200 people! 

Returning to London transport, via maps, readers of Londonist (an incredibly helpful repository of London related information) have contributed to make a tube map where the station names actually relate to their location:

LondonistAlternativeNamesV5Currently, I’m deriving a lot of fun from my latest London Transport geek purchase: a skirt with London buses on it. Yes. Buses. Since the summer, Cath Kidston has had a range in a lovely bus print and I’ve been biding my time to make this purchase once some of it ended up in the sale. My mother has pointed out that I need to not go overboard with the print (less is more, apparently) – I have the book bag and the skirt and I reckon there’s still room for a couple of cushion covers and a pencil case or purse. Right?


Finally, what happens when hundreds of people in the same location listen to the same mp3 file & follow its instructions simultaneously? If you’re part of Improv Everywhere, this:

Friday Fun will not be abandoned…

The title of this week’s fun is less to do with the possibility of my abandoning the feature or – heaven forfend – the blog; more to do with the fun that can be had with abandoned things…

This week marks the fourth anniversary of my exceptionally nerdy day out, in which I explored the remains of various abandoned tube stations. Ever since, glimpses of disused stations have always brightened up a day (recently I’ve watched as the remains of the old Pudding Mill Lane DLR station have been swept away by Crossrail en route from Stratford), not least the evening spent in Aldwych. Information about such stations is devoured and savoured.

Thus, a tweet from a friend announcing that it was the 81st anniversary of the British Museum station closing was an excellent thing to wake up to yesterday, especially as it included delightful illustrations:

Hours later, I discovered that the Guardian had also decided to join the abandoned stations bandwagon, with a feature on disused stops around the world. Did you know that Cincinnati has an entire subway system that’s NEVER BEEN USED?? A whole city of abandoned stations! Incredible! Or that Moscow allegedly had a secret parallel system for high-ranking Communists?

NYC City Hall stationPossibly the most glorious of the world’s disused stations – City Hall in New York.

I trust most people have seen the video of the man who ran between Mansion House & Canon St and made it back onto the same Circle Line train? If not, WATCH IT! It’s a brilliant demonstration of just how close together certain parts of the network are. [For example, I was recently asked what the stupidest thing I’d ever done under the influence was – one of my contributions was catching the tube from Embankment to Charing Cross. It’s by no means the stupidest thing I’ve done, but all Londoners know it’s a pretty stupid escapade, especially if you’re trying to make a last train, which you would have caught had you walked…]

It has pleased me no end that friends have been inspired to alight trains at Embankment purely to visit the antique map. If you’re in search of another tube goody, may I suggest a trip to see the delightful roundel clock at Bethnal Green?

Roundel ClockSomeone on Twitter has asked that I return at 9 so that it looks even better. We’ll see…

In a complete change of direction, the final bit of fun for today returns to a favourite Friday theme: periods. Two teenage girls from NYC, sick of the stigma attached to being seen with tampons, created a computer game called ‘Tampon Run’ in which tampons are weapons. I’ve spent a good ten minutes playing it and it’s quite the distraction. It’s not sophisticated, but it is hilarious and carries an important message.


And with that, I am off for what promises to be an exceedingly fun weekend with friends, an awful lot of cake, wine & cheese, and a very big cottage!

Friday fun for the season of new starts

It’s the first Friday in September. Not the cheeriest of days, but a day for many to celebrate simply because it means that they’ve got through the first week of term. For others, it’s just another Friday to be got through. Either way, let’s find some fun…

To start, how about some DLR themed fun? The Secrets of the London Tube series has featured on previous Fridays, but as many of you will know, the DLR is considered to be a somewhat separate element of the network – nonetheless, the Secrets of the DLR is now available. For many Londoners it remains a line of mystery, never having cause to use it. However, for others, the joy of getting the driver’s seat on a DLR train never dies. [Further joys of living near Stratford: it’s where DLR trains begin, therefore the driver’s seat is highly attainable!]

If that gets your tube-geek juices going, let’s see how you fair on this (actually quite tricky) Buzzfeed quiz on the tube map. I will disclose that I got 24/25 – my knowledge of the outer rings of the Overground isn’t as good as it could be.

Talking of London, what about a bringing together of the world’s best city, excellent literature and maps? The result is utterly lovely and fascinating:

Exhib artwork.inddLiterary London Prints

And talking of maps, I’ve seen this map of an introvert’s heart a few times on Twitter recently, but wanted to find out where it was actually from (bad, bad Tweeters for not linking directly!). It’s by Gemma Correll and is quite frankly the truth about life as an introvert:

Map Introvert Heart

With the start of the university year fast approaching, now is not really a time for a ‘fun’ visit to Ikea – unless you thrive in a milieu of stressed parents and anxious offspring. [I say this, but Belfast Ikea was perfectly pleasant on Monday, despite a city-wide issue with chip and pin machines.] What is fun, if you’re a lover of Swedish furniture and meatballs, is this collection of every Ikea catalogue front cover since 1951, dutifully collated by Home Designing. I was pleased to discover that both the Poang chair and the Lack coffee table are older than I am…

IKEA-1951-CatalogIn 1951, Ikea seemed to be catering for the likes of Sherlock…

IKEA-1974-Catalog-600x521This would appear to epitomise the 70s’.

Thanks to a four-hour internet outage, this was published after 5pm, but no matter, hopefully it’s still fun!

Friday Fun with poetry & singing

As is traditional for Friday Fun, there is some TfL geekiness, but there is an entire blogpost of geekiness imminent, so I’ll keep it to a minimum today, with just one piece of fun.

I am a big fan of tube etiquette posters – largely because I am also a big fan of keeping tube etiquette. However, the recent series of posters using rhyming couplets to instruct us to give up seats; not eat smelly food; and let others off the train first has been derided by some. One such person decided to bring some quality poetry into the etiquette messages, re-writing them in the style of Blake, Byron, Shakespeare etc…

Blake Tube Etiquette

Kipling, Byron, Barrett-Browning

Not, strictly speaking, TfL fun, but both London and Transport related, is Jake Foreman’s third instalment of Unfinished London.  The first two are well worth checking out if you haven’t already (the unfinished Northern Line plans & the inner London orbital) and this one does not disappoint. This time, the subject is London’s airports:

Moving on. Still riding high on the joy of seeing Les Mis in the flesh last week, I very much enjoyed this rendition of One Day More – with lyrics translated through layers of Google Translate. It’s excellent, partly because the singers are, and partly because it’s just ridiculous. Quality intellectual musical fun:

Next, am I alone in feeling something of a Harry Potter absence at this time of year? For years, early summer involved heady anticipation of a new book or film – until 2011, when the final movie arrived. If you share my wistfulness, and don’t have the time/inclination to read all 7 books or watch all 8 films, then you can relive the joy through 5 minutes of how Harry Potter should have ended:

And, as I said at the start, keep watch for further TfL fun in the next couple of days…