1 EAGLETON NOTES: The Lost Art of Timekeeping - Part 1

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Friday, 26 July 2013

The Lost Art of Timekeeping - Part 1

I was pondering the other day on the marvel of the modern bus stop. The bus shelter had a display telling me where the next bus was going and when it would arrive at this stop (ie how long I was going to have to wait - as if I had an option). The possibilities of what information could be imparted and what we could do with it seemed, and indeed are, limitless.

Later on I was thinking how good that would have been in the days when I used buses regularly ie back in the sixties in the city that spawned the Beatles and Lots of Other Good Things

Then I checked myself. When I first started work I used to walk a few hundred yards down the road (nowadays the number would be slightly smaller because metres are longer than yards) to the bus stop. At 0802 (which we used to call 8.02 am or two minutes past eight) the 6d (the bus that went down Dale Street - where I worked - as compared with the 6c which went down Church Street - the beauty of simplicity) would draw up and I would get on. Occasionally it would be full and so everyone could get on and the conductor (some of you may be too young to remember what they were) would say "Don't worry we knew it was going to be busy today because of - insert reason - so there's an extra just behind.".  The point was, though, that the bus timetable said that the bus would be at that stop at 0802 and at that stop at 0802 it was.

It occurred to me that if the money spent on the wonderful systems to tell me when the next bus would be at the stop was spent on ensuring that buses could be at the stop they were supposed to be at when they were supposed to be there then life would be much simpler

Okay I know that a) I'm living in the past and b) life really isn't that simple (and never was) but, hey, it's good to have an inconsequential rant occasionally.   After all at my age I mightn't get too many of them in: I'm getting more and more reasonable the older I get.

16 comments:

  1. I think this is a thankful Thursday post a day late.
    Buses used to break down when I was little but never on school days. Only on the way to the Lido at Matlock or to a rugby away game, they popped unreliable buses on when one was off to enjoy oneself.

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    1. Adrian I walked the 1/4 mile to prep school and cycled to grammar school as a rule - 3 miles there and 3 miles back less a couple of hundred yards which meant that I wasn't eligible for school transport. In my schooldays going on a bus was a treat. At the weekend it could mean a trip to Moel Fammau in Wales with my Dad for a day out walking. There was a romance about busses for me. Now I avoid them like the plague. Hmmm. Wasn't this about timekeeping? I'm not sure any more.

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    2. An interesting number of s's in your busses- especially since there was a romance about them!

      buss (bs)
      tr. & intr.v. bussed, buss·ing, buss·es
      To kiss.
      n.
      A kiss.

      The Grammarist says -
      In 21st-century English, buses is the preferred plural of the noun bus. Busses appears occasionally, and dictionaries list it as a secondary spelling, but it’s been out of favor (that's favour where I come from!) for over a century. This is true in all main varieties of English.

      After bus emerged in the 19th century as an abbreviation of omnibus, buses and busses (the logical plural of buss, an early alternative spelling of bus) vied for dominance for several decades. By the early 20th century, though, buses was the clear winner, and it has steadily become more prevalent. Today, buses appears on the web about 15 times for every instance of busses.

      So now we know!

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    3. Actually I thought I had gone through and removed all the busses in favour of buses. I took buses to be the plural of the bus that we use for transportation and busses the plural of the bus that is used in electrical conductors (as in there are 4 busses in that bus bar). The question of kissing wasn't even within my sights.

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  2. Now I am wondering what Part II is going to be about!

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    1. Well, Meike, if you find out please let me know and I'll try and write it.

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  3. The world would run much smoother if everything and everyone kept to a schedule wouldn't it?
    It may also become a tad boring too. What would we have to complain about if everything worked like clockwork?
    Furthermore this post would have been non-existent...smile.

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    1. Virginia smooth timekeeping means for me means that the mundanities of life don't get in the way of me doing the exciting things. You do have a point though although the Brits will always have the weather to fall back on if they run out of other things to complain about.

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  4. Thursday evening, after queueing for 2 hours (you can imagine how I loved that!) the show we'd gone to see was nearly an hour late in starting. How I kept my complaint to myself I will never know. I think I'm turning quite saintly. Oh, and I used to catch the 8.04 train to work back in the day.

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    1. You queued for 2 hours?!?! What on earth was the show Pauline?

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  5. I have to say that Wirral buses are always on time. If there is a danger of being early they stop between stops so as to be on time at the next one. I suppose there must be the occasional late one because of traffic hold ups but I haven't been so unfortunate as to come across one yet.

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    1. It's good to hear that CJ. If I ever have to use a bus again where they do have a timetable (The last time I used one was, I think in Ayr to get to the hospital) and the sign at the stop said every 20 minutes between two times. The bus arrivals when I was getting a bus bore no relationship to the 20 minutes stated. Mind you there were no electronic information thingies either.

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  6. Not of buses or busses but Time.
    Last week before and between the hugest storm Wellington has had for many years if any and the biggest earthquake we have ever felt
    which stopped the buses, busses and buzzers no doubt.
    I spent two 15 or more hour days (daze?) in a closed building under constant Artificial Sunlight.
    which taught one that such conditions totally destroy any concept of what time or day it is even for days after the events.
    being under constant sunlight not storm or quakes.
    We await the next quakes in somewhat awe.

    Buses do pass our front gate somewhat hourly but seldom do we see people riding in them, however their noisy passing can be somewhat useful for approximate Time Keeping.

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    1. I've been keeping abreast of the earthquakes Dad. I don't envy you that. You wouldn't be relying for buses for timekeeping much is Napier: they are very very few and far between.

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  7. We have a few bus stops here (in town) with those electronic signs but far from every bus stop has them. I think the ones I've seen are in places where several bus lines pass and there it can be somewhat helpful. I'm not sure the electronic signs are more trustworthy than the time tables, though.

    Back in my teens we lived in a village about 10-15 km outside (another) town and the last bus back home from town left at 9.20 pm. Extremely annoying as that did not even allow one to see a cinema picture lasting longer than two hours... I recall once having to leave in the middle of a long one (it think it was Ben Hur and I suppose I did not know beforehand how long it was)

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  8. I have to say, Monica, that the times I've used the electronic sign in Edinburgh they were very useful and accurate.

    One of the things about living in a city as a young man was that the last bus - almost every last bus - left the main Pier Head terminus very late in the evening.

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