Mind the Gap

With yesterday’s drama seemingly at an end, here follows a brief description of the events which brought about my sudden initiation into the “broken phone hall of fame”.

Having been gifted ample time for locating the optimal train doors for a speedy getaway, I stood waiting for my train home from work for several minutes. Eventually, the final Amersham stopper of the day arrived and slowed to a standstill. The doors opened as normal and my cane found its way almost automatically aboard the carriage through the centre of the open doorway. Unfortunately, my right foot was not quite so keen on emulating my cane’s bold approach. In fact, it lost height if not forward momentum such that it fell through the gap. I fell forwards onto my right knee and left thigh. I mercifully escaped serious injury, but my left thigh bore much of the impact, particularly the front left pocket of my jeans which contained my phone. Smartphones apparently react distastefully toward being caught between their owner’s unbalanced body and the sharp corner of a metallically reinforced tube trains, so the screen bid an abrupt farewell, shattering into countless tiny shards and taking with it much of the bottom edge, rendering future charging and headphone use impossible.

Some time spent queueing for service and my foresight in buying an inexpensive insurance policy for my phone several months ago lead to a relatively painless restoration. Even so, I would be well advised to start obeying those “mind the gap” announcements!

Open Letter to Transport for London

Sir,

I am writing to express my frustration and deepp sadness regarding the measures recently adopted by station staff at Victoria Underground Station, concerning provision for assisting blind passengers to and from platforms during the afternoon rush hour. I personally experienced a 35 minute delay at Victoria in August. However my grievance was strengthened by an article published today on the BBC News website, entitled “Victoria Tube station: Staff told not to help blind people”.

The quoted leaked memo suggests that between 1530 and 1930 Monday-Friday, VIPs are advised to travel to nearby stations and avoid Victoria completely. In my view, this is contrary to disability and equality legislation and also indicates a blatant contradiction of TFL’s policy, as stated on the Tube section of the transport accessibility area of the TFL website.

I would be the first to acknowledge the difficulties in sustaining passenger services during the undertaking of vital maintenance work. Nevertheless, it is totally unacceptable for London Underground to pursue this policy of undeserved and unwarranted persecution. Indeed, it is the legal and moral responsibility of station staff to accommodate the needs of all lawabiding passengers wishing to utilise its services.

I am a blind person and therefore, directly benefit from the assistance provided by tireless and thoroughly committed members of London Underground staff. The assistance I have experienced is for the most part, exemplary and highly efficient. I strongly desire this to continue. These measures at Victoria are a phoenomenal backward step. At best they are incompetence, at worst they are effectively communicating that disabled people are second class citizens. It’s utterly deplorable seeing the promotion, encouragement and prosperity of such blatant prejudice, within the very governance of what is supposedly the most sophisticated transport infrastructure in the world. I urge this matter to be addressed swiftly, with immediate priority.

Yours faithfully,

Darren Paskell

Today, I love technology!

A very good afternoon from a comfortable coach on board the slightly delayed 12:00 train from Cambridge to Birmingham. Mobile broadband is at my disposal and so I’m doodling a few thoughts to help pass the time. Yesterday I watched the Great Britain Goalball squad commence their World Championship campaign and tomorrow I shall be returning for some more of the action. Goalball is not necessarily the most obvious spectators’ sport. Nevertheless, it’s great fun supporting our men and women and a real privilege to see our players perform at international level. If you have nothing else planned this week, come and grab a slice of the action for yourself in Sheffield. There’s no better opportunity until London 2012!