Too Reserved?

I’m currently sitting on a poorly air-conditioned, very packed and therefore extremely hot train back from Leeds to London. And the temperature is not the only uncomfortable element, passions are running high on this train. Arguments seem to be erupting at every angle – I have witnessed four already since claiming my seat.

And there is a clear central issue driving this passanger rage…reservations.

Maybe it’s the 35degree heat, but even I am starting to get frustrated here. This train is completely full – all the seats have been pre-booked and protruding from every headrest is a big white label emblazened with one bold word, RESERVED.

My ticket clearly states both my carriage and seat number, and I arrived early enough take rightful ownership of seat 16A. But unfortunately others on my coach haven’t been quite as lucky…

Most people seem to understand the very basic ‘code of conduct’ – you sit in the seat that you have booked… but not everyone. For there are some people who seem to use the Ryanair approach to every asset of life – if they see an empty seat they have every right to sit in it. And this set not only have a complete disregard for the basic rules, most also seem to take an arrogant, confident and confrontational approach to defending their position.

I have already witnessed two happy pre-bookers skulk away, defeated by the evil, aggressive and immovable seat squatters. Only the very brave seem to have the resolve to stand their ground and go toe-to-toe to claim what is rightfully theirs. But when the righteous are victorious every ticket holder on the carriage can silently share in their success.

However while I have been typing the atmosphere has relaxed. A new player has made his mark – the advance purchasers now have a new hero…

As soon as the ticket inspector shuffled in, the two remaining spongers immediately hung their heads. One then quickly bolted for the far door – the other at least kept in place, but when challenged he too silently slumped off. And now even the original ticket owners have returned…Victory!

And I think the air conditioning has just started working, everything is finally cooling down.

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The Big Debate: Thomas vs. Chuggington

Although this subject will mean absolutely nothing to many, millions in The UK will immediately recognise the importance of this life defining issue. It’s a debate that on the surface seems pointless but stands for something much more important than an infantile programming choice.

Thomas the Tank Engine is an institution, that has influenced and entertained generations. As I look up and down my crowded underground train I am confident that most would instantly recognise that happy theme tune. If I were to ask the man to my right to identify “The Fat Controller” I’m sure he could give me a detailed description (although I haven’t actually put this to the test). TTTE holds legendary status – it was even narrated by a Beatle!

But Thomas has a pretender to his crown…

Chuggington is modern, colourful, exciting and already starting to muscle into the train related children’s TV niche. It doesn’t focus on old, dated, slow, steam trains, with aged upper class voiceovers – it introduces fun, relevant, electric, young engines, training to take over the railway network. Chuggington is educational, relevant and already a favourite of the new generation.

Thomas definitely feels threatened.

In fact he has been completely revamped in the face of the Chuggington threat. That famous theme tune is no more, and Ringo has been sent to the scrap heap, replaced with a new younger model.

I find it desperately sad to see the demise of Thomas, but I have to be honest, as a bored father I would rather turn over to CBeebies and watch the new train generation. Thomas will always hold a place in my heart, but I am now a Chuggington man.

And as my little boy is still too young to operate the remote, I tend to switch to CBeebies and leave it running (although this is mainly because the mums proclaim it as educational) – so the chances are Chuggington will now be his train show of choice.

But whether it’s Chuggs or Thomas showing on my 32inch plasma, at least I can watch still watch the sport on my laptop….thank goodness for SkyGO.