Some Thoughts on Transport

Mainly about public transport, but also features autism and cricket, and of course has the usual stack of photographs.

INTRODUCTION

This post was prompted to by events on Monday, when I had to journey to Cambridge and back – in the course of the post I describe that day in full. However, before I get to the main body of the post there is something else to attend to…

NINE HUNDRED THANK YOUS

Well actually 902 to be precise, since that is the number of you now following this blog. I am very grateful to all of you.

A DAY THAT WAS AN ARGUMENT FOR RENATIONALISING THE RAILWAYS

I was due to visit Addenbrookes for a check-up on Monday, and had to be there by 12:00. This meant that the last train to Cambridge I could catch and arrive there with sufficient time to get to Addenbrookes was at 9:44AM, since the next was the 10:44 due at Cambridge at 11:37, which would have meant that even if it was on time I would have needed Lady Luck to play ball to be at Addenbrookes by 12:00. Being excessively cautious when it comes to making journeys by British public transport I was actually ready to leave my flat by 8:40 and saw no grounds for not doing so. I thus arrived at the station just before 9:00 and with no queue at the ticket office was actually able to board the 09:10 train, and never one to object to having extra time to spare did precisely that. It was a few minutes late departing, and then had to wait at Downham Market for a train coming the other way to pass (there are single track stretches between Downham Market and Littleport). Speed restrictions between Downham Market and Littleport cost us further time. At Cambridge I got a bus to Addenbrookes, and was there just before 11AM, giving me time to consume an early lunch before going to the oncology reception and announcing my presence.

Although the consultant was ready to see me promptly the people taking blood samples for testing were running behind, so I had to see the consultant first and then get that done. The consultation was exceedingly brief, since the scans done a week and a half earlier revealed nothing untoward (no news in this situation is most unequivocally good news). Once it came to my turn to be seen for them the blood samples were also to my great relief obtained without undue delay. Nevertheless, it was 12:45PM before I was finished at Addenbrookes. I got the express bus back to Cambridge (£2.20 instead of £1 for the regular bus, but in the circumstances worth the extra cost) and was there in time for the 13:36 to Lynn…

Cue more chaos. There was an out of service train occupying the platform from which the Lynn train was supposed to depart, causing a late platform alteration. The service was also delayed slightly (somebody had been hit by a train earlier in the day and the knock-on effects of that were being felt everywhere). However, once it got underway it ran fairly smoothly. Between them having the blood samples taken and the consultation took maybe ten minutes, maybe less, yet I left my flat at 8:40 and did not arrive back there until 3PM, and of that six hours and twenty minutes only about 40 minutes can be put down to Addenbrookes – the rest was a combination of my caution and the inadequacies of British public transport.

Although I fully accept that one cannot prevent incidents such as people being hit by trains from happening the rest, including the service pattern that meant I dared not run any risk being on a later train than 9:44 when I had an appointment at a hospital on the outskirts of Cambridge at 12:00 and the platform alteration due to an out of service train blocking the intended platform are wholly indefensible, and in the case of the platform alteration happen sufficiently often to be classed as regular occurrences on that line.

We need our railways to be fully publicly owned and fully publicly accountable. There only two groups of people in my opinion who should decide how railways are run – those who provide the service (railway workers) and those who use it (railway passengers).

Here are some photos from the journey:

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A NEW BOOK RELATING TO AUTISM

The book is to be called Your Life As I Knew It, and you can be part of making it a reality by visiting the funding site for it here.

EARTH XI TO PLAY MARS

This section was prompted by a post on the Full Toss blog comparing Virat Kohli and Steve Smith and inviting us to make a decision between them. My resolution to the conundrum was simply to avoid treating it as an ‘either, or’ situation. With Rohit Sharma and Mayant Agarwal shoo-ins as opening pair that left me only seven more players to find to make an XI. I have opted for Kane Williamson as the fifth specialist batter, Ben Stokes at six and as fifth bowler, Ben Foakes as wicketkeeper (he is the best currently playing, though as a controversialist I might be tempted to see if I could lure Sarah Taylor out of retirement for this one!), Rashid Khan the Afghan legspinner at 8 (a gamble, but I would love to see how he fares as part of an all-stars combo), Pat Cummins, Jofra Archer and Kagiso Rabada (Jasprit Bumrah is currently injured, otherwise he would be a shoo-in.). Thus the current Earth XI to take on Mars is as follows:

  1. Rohit Sharma
  2. Mayant Agarwal
  3. Virat Kohli
  4. Steve Smith
  5. *Kane Williamson
  6. Ben Stokes
  7. +Ben Foakes
  8. Rashid Khan
  9. Pat Cummins
  10. Jofra Archer
  11. Kagiso Rabada

As twelfth man I nominate Ravindra Jadeja, spin bowling all-rounder and quite magnificent fielder.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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One Year On From A Narrow Escape

An anniversary, some thoughts about autism, the London Mayoral elections and diplomatic immunity and a lot of photographs.

INTRODUCTION

I have various things to mention besides the main subject of this post, and a few links to share. First up, in accordance with this blog’s “reverse tabloid” policy regarding such matters comes…

AN APOLOGY

I recently suffered a problem with my email settings that caused two things:

  1. I missed some of your posts because they were going to my spam folder.
  2. A couple of commenters waited longer than they should for a response from me because due to the same issue I did not initially see the comments.

I have now resolved the issue, and all should be back to normal.

THE NARROW ESCAPE

Exactly one year ago, on October 8th 2018 I was so ill that I had to be given a half-size saline drip and a lot of further assistance to get from the flat I was then living in to an ambulance that took me to Queen Elizabeth Hospital. I will be visiting that hospital under my own steam today for a hearing appointment. I have written various posts about the illness that nearly killed me and my subsequent gradual return to health and fitness.

COFFEE MORNING

There is a coffee morning taking place at King’s Lynn Library tomorrow between 11AM and 1PM. At this time of year various shops and businesses have an “autism hour” during which they make particular efforts to be more accessible to autistic people. Of course many of the changes they make could and should be made permanently anyway – are such things as ultra bright lights and loud “music” really necessary to attract allistic customers?

Talking of which, Pete Wharmby, an #actuallyautistic autism advocate, posted a splendid thread on twitter last night about employing autistic people.

LINKS AND PICTURES

Just a couple of links before the pictures…

  1. The London Mayoral election campaign is now in full swing. There has been much entirely unmerited excitement about the decision of Rory Stewart, who knows precisely nothing about London, to stand. If I lived in London my vote would unquestionably go to Sian Berry, once again the Green Party candidate, with a second preference for the incumbent Sadiq Khan (they use STV for the London Mayoral elections). Here is an article in inews inwhich Ms Berry takes aim at Mr Stewart with (IMO) deadly accuracy.
  2. Autistica have produced an excellent guide to writing about autism, which I recommend you to read in full.
  3. Jerry Coyne at whyevolutionistrue has put up a post about Anne Sacoolas’ abuse of “diplomatic immunity” after she killed Harry Dunn in a hit and run accident. She is very probably going to escape unpunished for killing someone because neither of the two countries has a leader who can even be hoped to do the right things. For those who use social media look up #JusticeForHarryDunn. My own view is that diplomatic immunity should be waived, she should be done for causing death by dangerous driving and hit with the maximum possible punishment for that offence (on the grounds that her attempted use of diplomatic immunity counts as the absolute reverse of co-operation).

PHOTOGRAPHS

First up, a warning to arachnophobes – there is a spider coming up. Now, my usual sign off…

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A bug of some description exploring my spectacles (four pics)

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The first of a load of pictures during a journey to and from Addenbrookes

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Walking home from King’s Lynn station post Addenbrookes…

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…this poster produced by school students impressed me (sadly the weather overnight was dreadful, and I had to pick up a couple of badly damaged copies the following morning when on my way into town).

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Autism Related Events

Some recent autism and disability related events and a farewell to wicketkeeping legend Sarah Taylor.

INTRODUCTION

There have been two significant events in as many days for me, and I mention both of them in this post.

NORFOLK DISABILITY PRIDE PHOTOGRAPHIC EXHIBITION

On Sunday I travelled to Norwich for the Norfolk Disability Pride event, which included the photographic exhibition at which I won third prize (£25 voucher for WEX Photography, which I discovered to my chagrin that I cannot redeem online), for this photograph:

Carbis Bay II

This photograph was taken through a train window while travelling between St Erth and St Ives in the far west of Cornwall.

A big screen was set up on the ground floor of the Norwich Millennium Library displaying this and other photographs for the exhibition (the above was not the only one of pictures to feature, and several others got appreciative responses from viewers), while a variety of groups connected with disability had stands in the foyer of the Forum building, immediately outside the library. In the Auditorium, off to one side of the foyer, was a #ToyLikeMe exhibition (a campaign to increase the number of toys that feature disabled people).

Not wishing to be overly late home I caught the 3:10 bus back from Norwich (as well that I did, since by the time it got to Lynn the rain was coming down in stair rods, and it being Sunday the last no 2 bus to enable me to avoid walking all the way home from the town centre left just after the ExCel bus from Norwich had arrived at the bus station, so I only got a bit wet rather than thoroughly drenched).

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Unlike some buses used for PR purposes this one had no lies printed on it!

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The prize winning picture on the big screen.

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small ‘sesnory; donkeys outside the Forum building

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This was a good feature…
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…especially this part of it!

AUTISM FRIENDLY SOCIAL GROUP

The first of these took place last night at King’s Lynn Library, London Road, between 5PM and 6:45PM, and it is intended that they will become a regular event, with two more sessions, for Wednesday 16th October, 5PM to 6:45PM and Monday 28th October 5PM to 6:45PM already confirmed. Various games and puzzles are available for those so inclined, and refreshments are provided. We had a few people come last night, and I hope that more will get involved as word spreads, but the important thing is that the group runs – even if only a few benefit, that is better than none.

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The official flyer for the social group.
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One of the games they have – I am hoping in due course to play it (did not happen last night).

SARAH TAYLOR’S RETIREMENT

A top class batter, and for my money the best wicketkeeper of either sex to have played in the 21st century, Sarah Taylor has hung up the gloves after an international career that spanned 13 seasons and much of the cricket playing globe. She has made the decision on mental health grounds, and I hope all would wish her well for the future. Those involved with the England Women’s set up deserve credit for their efforts to help her over the years since her mental health issues first came to light, and she deserves credit for being open and honest about them, as well as for her deeds as a player, shown below, courtesy of cricinfo:

Full name Sarah Jane Taylor

Born May 20, 1989, London Hospital, Whitechapel, London

Current age 30 years 134 days

Major teams Adelaide Strikers Women, England Development Squad Women, England Women, Rubies

Playing role Top-order batsman

Batting style Right-hand bat

Fielding position Wicketkeeper

Sarah Jane Taylor
Batting and fielding averages
Mat Inns NO Runs HS Ave BF SR 100 50 4s 6s Ct St
Tests 10 17 1 300 40 18.75 605 49.58 0 0 50 0 18 2
ODIs 126 119 13 4056 147 38.26 4927 82.32 7 20 462 4 87 51
T20Is 90 87 12 2177 77 29.02 1967 110.67 0 16 241 6 23 51
Bowling averages
Mat Inns Balls Runs Wkts BBI BBM Ave Econ SR 4w 5w 10
Tests 10
ODIs 126
T20Is 90

Note especially the number of stumpings (most of them slick leg side efforts) that she executed in her career – wicketkeepers are often colloquially referred to as ‘stumpers’, but increasingly few of them truly merit the term.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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Two attempts to capture swnas from the road bridge over the Gaywood near Kettlewell Lane on a dark and rainy night (on my way home from the Librrary yesterday).

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A Bit of Everything

The conclusion of the county championship season 2019, a busy week and a photography prize.

INTRODUCTION

I will be covering a lot of ground in this post, hence the title. As well as stuff about this week I will be looking ahead a couple of days. Before moving on to the main body of the post I start with…

THE END OF THE ENGLISH CRICKET SEASON

The last round of County Championship fixtures was largely spoilt by the weather. Somerset managed to keep things interesting in the championship decider in spite of more than half the match being washed away. Having managed 203 themselves they bowled Essex out for 141 and forfeited their second innings (only a win would do for them, so they had to go all in) leaving Essex 63 to get in 65 minutes of playing time. Essex, with no incentive to go for the runs, played time out quietly, finishing on 48-1. Elsewhere Gloucestershire and Northamptonshire secured promotion to division one in a match in which less than one whole innings was played, Gloucestershire reaching 220-7 (having at one stage been 67-6). The experienced Graeme Van Buuren made 93, and 18 year old Ben Charlesworth was on 77 not out, having not ever looked like being dislodged – expect to see more of that name in the future. The decision to abandon the final day’s play without a ball being bowled may very well have denied him a maiden first class hundred.

Had the big match at Taunton been allowed to go the distance I suspect that Somerset would have won it and claimed their first County Championship, but as it is their wait for a title extends into its 129th year. Essex too would probably have preferred matters to be settled on the pitch rather than by the weather, as they will know that this title, their second County Championship in three seasons, will always have an asterisk against it in people’s minds due to the ruination of this final game. Somerset meanwhile will rue the way they collapsed to Kyle Abbott at Southampton in their penultimate match, which allowed Essex to move to the top of the table, leaving Somerset needing a win in the last game.

A BUSY FEW DAYS

Here is what I have been doing since I last posted here:

  • Tuesday – Yes I Can 2 at the Corn Exchange. I was there for the duration of this important event, and the NAS West Norfolk stand attracted plenty of interest.
  • Wednesday – Drop In Centre at the 7th Scout Hall, Portland Place. It was also on this day that the 2020 aspi.blog wall calendars arrived.
  • Thursday – physio session at Tapping House in the morning and CBT with Dr Daglish in the afternoon.

BIG NEWS

On Sunday I will be journeying to Norwich for the Disability Pride Photographic Exhibition, having just been notified by the organizers that one of my photos has won third prize – yes folks, I am now officially a prize winning photographer. I have not yet been told which the prize winning photograph was, but it was one of these:

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PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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Calendars set out for sale on Wednesday.

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Thoughts on The Test Squad for New Zealand

My thoughts on the England test squad for New Zealand, announced earlier today.

INTRODUCTION

This post looks at the test squad for New Zealand, announced not long ago. There are also of course a few photos.

THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE MIDDLE

The test squad for New Zealand is as follows (click here for the cricinfo article about it):

Joe Root (capt), Jofra Archer, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Zak Crawley, Sam Curran, Joe Denly, Jack Leach, Saqib Mahmood, Matthew Parkinson, Ollie Pope, Dominic Sibley, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes

I see one definite negative in this squad – the continuing selection of Buttler, although at least he will not be playing as a specialist batter, he will be keeping, one questionable retention (Denly), several non-controversial picks (Root, Archer, Broad – Anderson is still unfit, Curran, Stokes and Woakes), and several interesting newcomers (Sibley, Crawley, Pope, Parkinson, Mahmood). After a quick thank goodness for the absence from the red ball squad of Messrs Bairstow and Roy (retention of either would have been a disgraceful abdication of responsibility) and a brief lament for the continuing non-selection of Ben Foakes (best wicketkeeper around and averages over 40 in the few tests he has been permitted to play) and Lewis Gregory, I will devote the rest of this post to the five new names in the squad.

ZAK CRAWLEY

Opens the batting for Kent, he has 1,908 runs at 31.80 and three first class hundreds. These figures do not really warrant elevation to the status of test opener, and I would have preferred someone else to be picked in his place.

SAQIB MAHMOOD

Pretty much a pure bowler (he averages 14 with the bat in first class cricket), the young Lancashire quick  has 42 wickets at 28.90 in first class cricket (less impressive in other words than most of the younger pace bowlers I mentioned in my last post but one), however I am less unimpressed by this pick than I am by that of Crawley.

MATTHEW PARKINSON

A ‘ferret’ (he comes after the rabbits) with the bat – average 5.37 in that department – the young Lancashire legspinner has 60 first class wickets at 25.20 in his fledgling career. It is unlikely that a New Zealand pitch will warrant the selection of both him and Leach, but they should combine well together should that situation arise. I welcome this selection.

OLLIE POPE

The Surrey batter averages 57.55 in first-class cricket. His first exposure to test cricket last summer did not go well, because he was thrust higher up the order than he regularly batted for his county, but he is a much better cricketer now. He is that rarity among contemporary English batters, someone who is happy playing a long innings against the red ball. England’s middle order should benefit hugely from his presence.

DOMINIC SIBLEY

He has had a huge season for Warwickshire, which has seen his first class average move north of 40 (it currently stands at 41.55), and given England’s woes at the top of the order a failure to select him would have been an utter disgrace. His recent performance against Nottinghamshire when he scored 215 not out in the first innings and then 109 in the successful second innings run chase put him in rare company. Like Pope he is genuinely comfortable digging in for a long haul against the red ball, and alongside the now established Burns he should form the solidest English test opening pair since Strauss and Cook were in their prime nearly a decade ago.

Overall I consider this a respectable effort by the selectors and award them 7/10 for it.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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Championship Decider Features Five Frontline Spinners

A look at the early stages of the ‘winner takes all’ match between Somerset and Essex for the County Championship.

INTRODUCTION

One of the greatest of all English cricket seasons is drawing to a close, with the last fixtures thereof, the last round of County Championship games having got underway at 10:30AM today. The big game is at Taunton, where Somerset take on Essex in a “winner takes all” clash for the title. A draw would be enough for Essex as they currently head the table, having deposed Somerset from that position in the last round of games. This post looks at what is in store of the next four days.

AN EXPECTED BATTLE OF THE SPINNERS

Needing to win, Somerset had to prepare a ‘result’ pitch, and with two international quality spinners to call on it was thus no surprise, even with Simon Harmer in the ranks of the opposition that a ‘Bunsen’* was prepared. The nature of this pitch is illustrated by the fact that Somerset have included a third front line spinner, South African Roelof Van Der Merwe, in addition to Leach and Bess, while Essex have selected Aron Niijar, a slow left armer who pays 42 a piece for his first class scalps in addition to Harmer, while Tom Westley, mainly a batter, may get a go with his spinners as well. Somerset have won the toss and are batting, and have made a poor start, with Sam Cook bagging two wickets with new ball (a rather better known Cook will be opening the batting for Essex when the time comes). 

My own view is that in the situation, and given their bowling strengths, Somerset had to prepare a pitch of this nature and rely on getting the better of the battle of the spinners. Somerset’s pace bowling is in the hands of Lewis Gregory and Craig Overton, while Essex have Jamie Porter opening the bowling with Cook. Somerset have Tom Abell to provide seam bowling back up if needed, while Essex may turn to Ryan ten Doeschate and/or Ravi Bopara for help in that department. It would only be fitting for this season which has seen that World Cup Final, two last-ball finishes on T20 finals day and various other remarkable finishes to conclude with one final battle going right to the wire, and I hope that is what happens. James Hildreth’s bat is starting to sound quite sweet for Somerset, and Abell at the other end has played a number of gritty innings this season, and the could use another today.

This would be Somerset’s first County Championship, whereas Essex have won quite a few over the years, so as an inveterate underdog supporter I am rooting for Somerset. Whichever team wins this will be winning their second trophy of the season, Somerset having won the 50 over competition (the last occasion on which that will truly be a first team contest, due to The Hundred starting next season), while Essex won the T20 trophy on Saturday.

*’Bunsen’ is a piece of rhyming slang – Bunsen burner = turner.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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Thoughts for New Zealand and a Calendar Preview.

A few thoughts about the upcoming tour of New Zealand and a preview of the 2020 aspi.blog Wall Calendar.

INTRODUCTION

The England squad for New Zealand is due to be named soon, and I have some suggestions here. I also use this post to offer aspi.blog readers a sneak preview of the aspi.blog 2020 wall calendar, currently in production and due to arrive with me early next week.

SQUAD FOR NEW ZEALAND

It is unlikely that any surface in New Zealand will warrant the selection of two front line spinners, so for this tour I am selecting fewer spinners than I normally would. Seam and swing tend to be important in NZ just as they are in this country, so I do not regard a second out and out super quick alongside Archer, who should be used in short bursts. Finally, I do not think that even if both are fully fit England should be thinking of using Broad and Anderson in the same squad, so only one of those makes the trip. Batting wise I think the experiment of picking white ball specialists to play test cricket has been tried and found seriously wanting. I have argued for some time that Tammy Beaumont deserves her chance alongside the men and I continue to believe that this experiment is warranted, however uncertainty over Stokes’ ability to function as a full-time bowler in test cricket at present leads me to temporarily shelve that idea. Dominic Sibley has made an iron-clad case for selection as a test match opener, and Rory Burns has done sufficient to hang on to his own place, which leaves Ben Stokes my envisaged no 3, Root back at 4 where he scores much more heavily than at 3, Ollie Pope in at 5, Ben Foakes wicketkeeper at six, Lewis Gregory coming at seven (there could be few better places for a seam bowling all-rounder to begin a test career than New Zealand), Sam Curran at 8, Jofra Archer at 9, Jack Leach at 10 and Stuart Broad at 11 (unless Anderson is fully fit, in which he case he replaces Broad). My reserves would be a top order batter (Beaumont – see above), a middle order batter, possibly Dan Lawrence of Essex who has played at least one major innings recently or if you want someone grittier Somerset’s Tom Abell, an out and out fast bowler (Stone or Wood depending on fitness) and a second spinner (Matt Parkinson would be my choice, his lack of skill with the bat not being a serious issue since I am not expecting him and Leach to figure in the same XI). Note that with both Burns and Pope having some experience of the role a reserve wicketkeeper is not needed.

On the radar for the future I would have Josh Bohannon, the young Lancashire batter, if more spinners are required offspinners Bess and Virdi are immediately in the equation and Patterson-White of Nottinghamshire (who have collectively been utterly dreadful this season, making his small success all the more impressive) may develop into a replacement for Jack Leach when the time comes. In the seam bowling department Ollie Robinson and Jamie Porter will warrant consideration, and the emerging fast bowling talent of Worcestershire’s Josh Tongue should also see him being talked about in the right places. Finally, opener Zak Crawley has attracted favourable notices at times, but at the moment he needs to increase the number of major innings on his CV before really meriting consideration as a test opener.

THE 2020 WALL CALENDAR PREVIEW

13 pics here, the front cover and one for each month: