On 5th March, Jonathan and Corinna Downes, the Director and Administrator of the Centre for Fortean Zoology [CFZ] the world's largest mystery animal research organisation, fly to Texas. Together with their friends and colleagues Richie and Naomi West who very generously financed the expedition, they will spend two weeks continuing the research into the Texas blue dogs, first carried out by Jonathan Downes in November 2004..

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Train in vain

Jon has mentioned his annoyance at the lack of suitable facilities at Hayes & Harlington station on our way to Heathrow. He didn’t mention, however , the frightening experience of sitting on a station frequented by high speed trains. I don’t think I have sat on another station where they pass through quite so rapidly (almost every 5 minutes it seemed) and when two arrive at the station from both directions at exactly the same time, the moment their slipstreams meet you almost get sucked off the platform. The statement of “please step back from the platform edge” seems slightly inadequate under such circumstances. Apart from the obvious horrendous implications of this, just think of the disastrous possibilities if you were holding an umbrella at the time - Mary Poppins comes to mind.

Talking of trains, I made a rather anally retentive observation whilst on the train from Reading to Hayes. You know what it is like – you are standing on a busy train carriage where everyone, including yourself, is trying desperately not to catch anyone else’s eye so you focus on something as innocuous as possible. For me it was reading the electronic overhead announcement board over and over again. It came to my notice that when it got to the part where it explained that if you wished to find out more about disruptions caused by possible engineering works on Sundays and evenings, you should telephone a certain number. I realised on the second time of reading this particular part that you didn’t get enough time to read the whole number so on the third time of its repetition I counted for how many seconds it was visible - 3.

Then I noticed that the announcement about buying advance tickets included a telephone number that stayed visible for much longer, so I counted that: 9 seconds. Hmm... so what is the message here? When they want your money they make sure you can get out the notepad, borrow a pen from a neighbouring passenger and then even have time to write down the number twice, whereas if you want to make sure that your journey will not be disrupted you have to sit through two or three repetitions of the message – by which time you probably either have to leave the train or the owner of the borrowed pen has to?

I cannot believe that my ‘diary’ of this expedition to Texas is still only on day 1 – and my notebook is still full of other odd observations. However, for your sanity I shall skip the rest and bring you forward a tad to our arrival at Naomi and Richie’s place where, on the first night here, Jon actually managed to lock a door - that only has a lock on the inside – from the outside! Yes, our intrepid hero went to the lavatory and managed this magical trick upon his exit.

How does the man do it!?

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