Tag Archives: London

An amazing taxi offer! Yes, you heard it right…

I know have a habit of banging on a lot about the wonders of contemporary taxi drivers and minicab firms and how little they know about anything at all: but at last, I have found a firm who know a whole lot more about the world: ie where they are in it, where you are in it, how to get you from A to B in the shortest possible time at the lowest possible cost in a manner which is civilising and civilised.

I know it sounds too good to be true: a taxi firm which knows what it’s doing!  But its Christmas after all, and now is the season to expect miracles. So, thank you, UGO Cabfinder!

You can find out about it here.

UGO’s message of pre booking cabs is in line with TFL’s ‘cabwise’ advice which you can find here.

Here’s a lovely graphic to accompany all of the above too!

Banging on about HS2: how can we help them prevent a PR disaster?

The HS2 team held a PR event in Liverpool recently where assembled movers, shakers and hangers on were invited to hear the latest news on the HS2 developments. About 50 of us gathered expectantly to hear what it’s really all about Alfie, and to get it straight from the horses mouth.

To say it was a non event would be kind to non events. There were a couple of short introductory speeches – the first of which apologised for the name of the project – HS2 – and made it clear that there would be nothing particularly HS about HS2 as it was much more about moving freight off the roads, on to the rails and down the current West Coast line. The need for the new line was as much about providing capacity for passengers to travel at speeds greater than 15mph – the average speed they would be travelling if they were stuck behind a mile long freight train carrying glass from St Helens to the city of London.

The second contributor marvelled at the current 15 apprentices who are currently were working on the designs of the line. He pointed out, this project could last their life time and it would be more than likely that they would be grandparents by the time the line was operational.

That fact sobered many of us in the room as it became clear that we were being asked to endorse a project which would outlive us, and perhaps even our children. The project will be alive and kicking when many of us in the room will be consigned to our graves, ashes urns or deep at the bottom of the sea – or even under the rails at Rainford for the enthusiasts amongst us.

The final contribution to the non-event was a glossy promotional video which showed a lighting fast cartoon train whizzing through an empty countryside in all its shiny happy people mode. The absence of people in the video emphasised one of the core problems to the HS2 marketing campaign. It doesn’t have any people in it who will be alive when the line supposedly opens. It’s emphasising its audiences mortality with a ya boo sucks approach – this project is more important than you here and now, and more important too than your children and grandchildren in the there and then.

What’s it all about Alfie is freight, freight and yet more freight trundling through the countryside at the dead of night, rattling by the graveyards of the movers, shakers and hangers on who are currently being asked to cough up in TB type spasmodic fits for its ever spiralling costs.

One way to prevent a PR disaster would be for the team to be honest about the purpose of HS2 and acknowledge that not many of us are going to be around to see the first train leave the new Manchester station which will be built just outside Skelmersdale some time in 2033.

The disappearing knowledge of the Hyperloop passenger: schools beware! Number 6 in the series: Knowledge, traffic and arts based research.

The hyperloop has hit the news again with dreams of tubing it from San Francisco to Los Angeles in less than 10 minutes. Everyone around the world will have their equivalent journeys and will marvel at the apparent ease at which such previously long journeys have been reduced to bats of eyelashes. In the UK, we will wonder how a hyperloop journey could take us from London to Liverpool in just under 30 seconds: although given the magnetic pull London has on all things economic, political and social in the UK, it is a wonder that anything ever leaves London at all, never mind in a hyperloop tube.

But the greater significance of the hyperloop proposal is on how we understand knowledge of traffic flow and our place in the civilised world and how we engage with passengers, train spotters and irate cows on the line.

Because make no mistake, in hyperloop world there will be no room for any of these travel distractions. In a hyperloop tube, you will be strapped to your seat, asked to brace yourself and before you know it you will have been shot across the planet with the equivalent of a ton of TNT shoved under your backside. You will know nothing of the experience and your sum knowledge of the world and all its wondrous creations will not have improved a jot.

This is why we should worry – and worry hard – about the proposed hyperloop project. No longer will students be able to revise on trains before exams; no longer will commuters be able to improve their literary knowledge and no longer will we see people frowning over Sudoku puzzles and other complex numerical machinations. The nation’s literacy, numeracy and emotional intelligences will all suffer enormously.

Where arts based research can help however will be on the hyperloop platforms, both pre and post-TNT backside kick. Artist researchers will offer passengers new ways of consolidating their knowledge before they take the fatal kick up the backside. These researchers will remind commuters of their 12 times table through pretty graphics; confirm proper grammatical construction of sentences and offer new ways of reminding ourselves of our Shakespearian heritage. Whilst the journey will be over in a bat of an eye, our memories shot to pieces, the learning will continue for ever: and for that, Michael Gove will be proud.

More travel knowledge here.

What are the narratives of the Paralympics?

Well, if we were any doubt about some of the underpinning narratives of the Paralympics over the last 2 weeks, the closing ceremony has given us a strong clue about one of them: the military story.  The story which emphasises impairment as a result of military action: the story which emphasises heroism; the story which emphasises the successful melding of  metal and human.  Coe himself draws on the 7/7 story to describe why the Paralympics have been important: as closure on terrorist acts (carried out in the name of god only knows what). And  with the director emphasising that we shouldn’t be looking for narratives, this should make us even more alert to what is being peddled under the banner of disability.

So, is there a correlation between achievement at the Paralympics and levels of militarily or industrial induced  impairment caused by  the countries who are at the top of the medal table?

What constitutes an Olympian Educator?

In June 2012, we’ll be celebrating the concept of the ‘Olympian Educator’ with educators from across the world in a unique conference on London’s South Bank. As well as meeting diverse speakers and colleagues and sharing pedagogies, ideas and approaches from across the world, delegates will be able to visit London schools and meet – through the magic of the internet and the performing arts – ancient educators such as Socrates, Dewey, Piaget, Vygotsky and Montessori.

But by Olympian, we don’t just mean schools with the highest visibility or schools with the highest performing pupils – but schools in which the efforts, talents and skills of the staff are making a real –Olympic – difference to local children’s and families lives.

So, to get the ball rolling, we’d like to know: what does being an Olympic Educator mean to you? Is it something in their training? Their performance? Their relationships with their students? Their pedagogy? The Olympic Educators Conference has kicked off now and will be a further 4 months in the making.

For further information or for the chance to be involved please see


or contact me at nowen.aspire@btconnect.com

The knowledge of the car driver: Number 5 in an the series: Knowledge, traffic and arts based research.

The knowledge of the car driver is perhaps the most complete form of knowledge available to us in both the private and public spheres of knowledge. He (for the car driver is always male, the form has not yet found a way of accommodating female insights into how to navigate oneself around the world) knows how to use Satnav, A – Z or his own innate capabilities in recognising how the world roads systems should connect up; how to surround himself with the perfect soundtrack which mirrors how his own internal emotional turmoil connects to his public confidence in the morals of the highway code; and  how his mpg will accurately predict his eta. On a good day, the drivers knowledge is both organic and inorganic,  both evolved and constructed: man and machine are perfectly melded. On a bad day, you find yourself on the M25.

Arts based research has a particularly effective role to play if the driver finds himself on the Moebius Loop that is the modern outer city motorway. Poetry, site specific installations and bricolage can be bought into play on the car dashboard, creating new interpretations on ancient themes of mans inhumanity to man, the place of God in a Godless society and the existence of the Devil. The only risk to the driver is that by becoming so immersed in the knowledge that this research generates, they miss the turning for the Dartford Tunnel and are doomed to repeat their journey for a further 120 miles.

More travel knowledge here.

Running can increase your carbon footprint! A caveat for Earth Day

Commuters who think they are preventing global warming by getting out of their cars and onto their bikes have been told to think again. Sports scientists who recently met at the International Convention for Environmental Protection in the Azores heard that the carbon dioxide generated by personal exercise could contribute to the destruction of the ozone layer above the antarctic.

In a sophisticated computer modelling programme entiitled SCOFF, scientists have proven that mass cycling in cities the size of London over one working week will wreak havoc in one acre of Amazonian rain forest.

Consequences are far reaching, not only for cyclists. Running for at least five minutes a day will increase your carbon foot print by as much as 1.00003% over the average lifetime; and mass sports like football could cause enough rainfall to flood a country the size of Wales at least once every two years. An emergency disaster committee is now reviewing the consequences that the CO2 generated by the athletes at the 2012 Olympics will have in London. Early reports that the slow bicycle race may be a surprised addition as an Olympic sport have not been denied by the IOC.