A freelancer's blog

Don't tell me not to run in the station

Don’t tell me not to run in the station.

Announce my platform well in advance so that if I reach the station in good time, there’s no need to hurry at any point.

Signpost my platform properly so I don’t have to run around as I struggle to find it.

Hire more staff. A 20-minute queue to buy my ticket turns “plenty of time” into “maybe I can make it if I sprint”.

Also appearing at: plastic waste and other green issues

The rumours are true: it’s been about six years since I last bought a new toothbrush. Want to know why (and how)? Come to my talk tonight at the Restore Cafe in East Oxford.

The machines that aren't broken

Typical: of course the ticket machine chooses a busy time to go wrong. In Oxford station, queues were forming at a machine that refused to display Network Railcard as a valid railcard. The woman at the front of the queue tried for quite some time to make it work, then gave up and sought assistance. I was eavesdropping on her conversation with James, a busy member of station staff, when I got to the front of my own queue and encountered an identical problem. Soon it became clear that all the ticket machines had the same issue: refusing to display Network Railcard as an option.

The weakness of the campaigning consumer

I wrote earlier this week about boycotts and the pervasive idea that they “don’t work”. I hope I’ve explained why that’s the wrong way to think about your choices; you can’t punish Nestle or Vodafone by withholding your custom, but where you spend your money should still matter to you.

On boycotts

So boycotts are fashionable again. I’ve been boycotting Starbucks since the early Noughties because of their aggressive business tactics; now I’m joined in that boycott by hordes of people who are unhappy because of the company’s attitude to tax. Now I know how Michaela Strachan felt when statement earrings came back into fashion: pleased, slightly righteous, and tempted to shout “I was doing it first!” a lot.