London: An Underground Map for panicky Claustrophobics like me.

I am a claustrophobic who has spent well over five years, if not more, avoiding the tube to avoid panic attacks. I welcome the news that Transport for London has brought out a new Tube Map showing us where tunnels are, though most of it will be away from Central London.

The only way I have managed to get on the tube recently is by heavy anxiety medication which help prevents the palpitations and hyperventilating. They are not completely perfect, but they help and I recommend them. I use a combination of anxiety and high blood pressure tablets. I have also been to a hypnotherapist, an expert ironically, in childbirth hypnotherapy, in Tunbridge Wells and learned breathing and trance techniques (yes, learned some hippie’ techniques. I also make sure I have someone with me I know who knows my condition and I try to take something to distract me, like a book, magazine or even knitting, which is better. However, there is still a risk of me getting one, in front of all these strangers. I try to keep my journeys very short and avoid crowded carriages at all costs.

If there is a choice, I would still go by the bus, cycle or walk. Even with medication, I have to get off after a few stops, if not, the next one before. If there are five stops, I could actually get off twice and then take the bus. It does generally get worse the longer I am using the tube network, particularly if there are a lot of people around, who seem to be ‘ok. I would say that dark tunnels definitely make things worse for me so knowing there where the tunnels are would help. It has been a pain for friends who aren’t claustrophobic.

The new map shows me where the tunnels are. It is a step in the right direction, but I think what will also help, is having less crowding on the tube, training people to have Mental Health First Aid, even having a carriage just for those with mental health anxiety issues, as it can be difficult having a panic attack in front of lots of ‘normal people’, where we can be very vulnerable in our situation as people do not understand or know what to do, but, the best thing is for me, is to be able to get off when I want to, rather than be fined for setting off the emergency alarm. When I have a panic attack, I don’t find that anyone helps me either. I feel an ‘idiot’ even though panic attacks can affect anyone, even geniuses. The bus is my favourite though, so if I can use the bus, and I am not in a hurry I will.

The sheer lack of control is ‘my big thing’ and I feel that I have more ‘control on a bus’. I would add that the priority seats on the tube are also helpful, as sitting down relieves anxiety.

However, if there will be loads more people on the tube train, that will mean that it’ll be more crowded for us claustrophobics! However, the bus is much cheaper than the tube, so it still will be my first choice for short journeys.

Link to Map: Tube Map showing where the Tunnels are https://tfl.gov.uk/maps/track/tube

London Bridge Station: Fire Alert 3 July

I arrived at London Bridge station on Monday, at about 11.30 am. I bought some stuff from Paperchase and went up to the platform. Everything seemed normal and calm at the station with some orange construction workers on the other platform beavering away. I only saw one uniformed police officer.

My train was twenty minutes late, as it was still at Charing Cross. Apparently, about 1030am there was a Fire Alert and everyone had to be evacuated. The tannoy announcement just said ‘London Bridge Station had to be evacuated’ and it was only when I got home, I discovered that it was a fire alert. So, I missed some ‘drama’ by an hour. I had important meeting so I was quite glad the trains were running again, as best as possible. I tend to make sure I have enough time to get to where I want to go, as anything can happen on the trains, ie signal failures. I didn’t check the news before I went, and even if I did, I would have been walking to London Bridge at the time, and completely oblivious.

Sorry, I wasn’t ‘right in the evacuation’, but I was pretty close! I bet all the Americans out there are cancelling their holidays, it seems to be all Fire and Terrorism lately in London.

London Mini Heroes: The Man on the 133 Bus at London Bridge

A blind man got on the 133 bus this evening, at around 5.30pm. The bus stop was at London Bridge and the bus was heading towards Borough.

I was a bit concerned that no one was going to give him a priority seat, but I was pleased to see that a white man with glasses, in 20s/early 30S chose to give him a seat, although I think he looked a bit miffed as he had to stand up in a crowded bus. However, it was very nice of him and I thought I would record him in my ‘Mini London Heroes’.

Heatwave: RSPCA: 724 motorists in the UK caught leaving their dogs in a hot car

The RSPCA stated that during the five-day heatwave in the UK recently, 724 dog owners left their dogs alone in the car and they had to be rescued.

In Kent, I found two dogs in a car during a heatwave, two retrievers, the owner had disappeared to a coffee shop. One of the dogs was in a bad state. I called the RSPCA, but they were eventually rescued by the local PSCO.

The RSPCA said that one dog was rescued after one and an half hours, according to the parking ticket in a shopping centre car park so passers by ignored the suffering dog for a long time. In my own experience, there were several passers by but nothing was done, they did not notice or seemed interested, it takes a dog lover to notice suffering dogs in a car. Supermarkets have trolley marshalls who should have noticed dogs earlier, why does it take one an half hours for a dog to be rescued?

In parts of the US, they have now passed a new law that if members of the public sees an animal in distress in a car, they can smash the window open. Unfortunately, in the UK, members of the public cannot do this.

Contact your local RSPCA https://www.rspca.org.uk/utilities/contactus

Kent: Passengers on South Eastern Railway take their dogs to work today

It is National #Takeyourdogtowork day which is great for mental health in the workplace, and gets the dog out too, and, of course, immensely spoiled.

I was pleased to see some railway passengers taking their beagle to work this morning, on my way to London Bridge. The lady took the dog after 10am and avoided the crowded rush hour so he was quite comfortable.

Hope to see more and more people take their dogs to work, perhaps more often than a day, to help animal welfare charities and reduce workplace stress and sickness. It also makes the workplace more fun and ‘human’.

To take part next year, keep a note of this website: https://bringyourdogtoworkday.co.uk/ for details.

Do I feel safe in London after the attacks?

No, I do not.

I believe the police when they say we are on Severe or Critical alert.I have seen that London is not safe.

We rarely get police walking along the streets due to red tape and cuts. I don’t see police do Stop and Searches though they do sometimes but I don’t see them doing this. There are no proper check points screening and checking motorists. The police tend to be out in their cars a lot, missing local intelligence.I feel sorry for them, as they have their hands tied by the ‘people at the top’.

The local media and Government tries to say #londonisopen, which is a bit of a PR stunt. It’s all very well carrying on ‘as normal’, but this can put our lives in danger. I certainly don’t trust our politicians. We have seen that these attackers target busy areas for maximum media coverage, so avoiding crowded places helps. Sometimes I forget about avoiding crowded places, and then, think about it afterwards. I try to avoid busy areas where there are few escape routes and I always take shoes that I can run in. Some people say, ‘you are letting them win’, I say, ‘I am winning, I am staying alive’.

I am a lot more vigilant now and I do report any suspicious behaviour to the police. Only a few weeks ago, I reported someone suspicious on the underground who was going from East London towards Westminster, a couple of weeks before the London attack. My friend kept on telling me, ‘there’s no need to report him’, but the police were glad that I did. He certainly looked out of place on the tube, particularly his reading matter. As soon as I saw his reading matter and his manner, I got off the tube train at once.

Once I helped a police inspector catch some car thieves at our local train station. The police were using our offices to spy on them. Though he was probably pi**ed off that I spotted them, and he didn’t, he did say they were up to no good and caught three males. I have a good sense of spotting shifty behaviour. We need to use our observational skills.We cannot be apathetic any more.

In the ideal world, I would prefer to wear an anti-stab vest in London or anti-knife collar round my neck, then if I was caught in some kind of stabbing spree, I would have a better chance of survival. These are quite expensive though, but I think they are worth it if you have the money. The thing is terrorism is so ‘random’ but there are places, that they always target and types of people.

A few days ago there was someone loading fireworks in Bermondsey, Southwark, and we wondered what was happening, and only last night, at the ridiculous hour of 1.30am I heard a serious of random gunshots or firework bangs,and I heard a police siren soon after. This is out of the norm at night. I am on edge, and I don’t safe but because of that, but I can be far more vigilant, and report unusual behaviour, this is something we can all do to combat terrorism. Maybe the nutter at Manchester could have been spotted earlier if people were vigilant. Prevention is better than cure, however, it doesn’t always work, as some people did report the London Bridge attackers to the police, but they somehow got through the net. At the end of the day, you can only try and do what is right, avoid busy areas and ones that ‘are likely to be terrorist targets’ as many of them follow a familiar pattern, particularly the copycats.

It is horrible that the UK has changed so much over the last decade. Things are different now, but we have to be awake to the new UK and learn to deal with it. Actually no city these days is safe from extremists. Sometimes avoiding busy and touristy places, is the key to survival now. Surviving is the best revenge to terrorists!

Company Greed: Taxi Companies charging Full Rates for Grenfell Fire donors

An unnamed taxi driver driving into Notting Hill has been charging people full price to whose who have been giving large donations to the Grenfell Fire survivors to avoid getting ‘abuse from his company’.

The Metropolitan police say that 17 people were killed, including children, in the devastating Grenfell Fire, in Notting Hill, London, this week.

UPDATE: 15/5 Some cabbies are offering discounts or their services for free unlike the cabbie who charged £37.00 http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/grenfell-disaster-black-cab-and-uber-drivers-join-charge-to-help-victims-as-londoners-unite-in-a3566316.html

South Eastern Railway passenger from Kent tells of his Experience of the London Attack

A passenger from Tonbridge, Kent, said that he was travelling on a train at 10pm on 3rd June to Lewisham when the South Eastern train driver said that he had heard some information and said there had been ‘an incident’ at London Bridge and that the train wasn’t going to let passengers off at the station.

The train driver told the few passengers that were on the train that it had to go back to Sevenoaks.He said the situation at London Bridge was ‘out of control’. He sounded like he knew more about the incident than he let on.

The driver was then seen to walk on the railway tracks at London Bridge to get to the other end of the train, presumably Network Rail turned the electrics off. There appeared to be no guard on the train.

The passenger said that while the train was waiting at London Bridge for a good half an hour he could hear several police sirens near the station, although he thought it was ‘just drunk men fighting’ at it was a Saturday night. Charing Cross station was swiftly closed during the incident was known.

The passenger was pleased that South Eastern Railway staff knew very quickly what was going on, and that they took swift action as soon as they knew something was up,

Though he never got to Lewisham, the passenger came home safely thanks to the driver and those communicating with him.

London: About time we had Women Only carriages on the Tube

There has been so much violence and sexual assaults on trains and tube trains in London. This has proved that many males are unable to control themselves.

Males nowadays are brainwashed with hardcore porn and seem to be unable to control their urges. It is all very well saying men should control themselves, they should, but some are so opportunist that they can’t. They are risk takers, willing to risk their job and family over a sex assault and a fight.

So, there comes a point that we women need to make a stand against male violence and have our own women only carriages. Other countries do this already like Iran, Japan, Mexico and Brazil and these are just some of them.

My colleague was sexually assaulted on London’s tube network and I remember that she came to work in tears. I have been verbally abused on the train by a group of , and drunk males can be very intimidating and unpredictable. I had this middle aged male touching himself next to me on a crowded train.  I was so shocked I couldn’t move, but I would now. He reminds me that we do need women only carriages.

Some women may not want to use the women only carriages but they will have the choice. I want the choice to use a women only carriage.  I don’t want the fear of violence, abuse, theft and sexual assault when I am travelling. Nothing is every done, as people at the top are still men.

 

LInk to Guardian article on Women Only Carriages https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/aug/26/women-only-carriages-train-passengers-react-to-jeremy-corbyn-idea

Discussion on BBC Newsnight https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=28h_iz650CE

My friend has to go to Heathrow during the #Tubestrike

I only found about the #tubestrike on Monday 9 January today. ThIs is going to mess up my friend’s travel plans to  Heathrow  Airport on Monday for Chinese New Year.  He  found it really hard to even get flights out during this time as most of the seats were already booked. 

He has given up even trying to get there on Monday on the Piccadilly Line so will go up on Sunday morning, the night before. It will be a lot easier than faffing around getting buses and taxis early on Monday, and battling room with tourists and commuters. Still, it is annoying. The tube strike will start on Sunday 8th January from 6pm and last 24 hours, Zone 1 tube stations will be closed.

I don’t like tube strikes or rail strikes as they affect the economy and disruption people travelling to hospitals, jobs and visiting relatives, some being elderly. And I say this as an Ex-TSSA member and delegate.  Then after the #tubestrike there will be another travel strike, this time Southern Rail staff for three days this week. Most of the staff I expect are Labour supporters and they don’t seem to realise that striking like this just gets travellers’ backs up, even if, in some ways, they do agree with them. Why can’t they find another way, without upsetting the punters? At the end of the day, these strikers are supposed to be ‘at war’ with their employers but they are also ‘at war’ with those who are paying their wages.