Oyster catcher

London Underground Tube Diary – Going Underground’s Blog

What a story! (Link above).

"And the next witness is…….. an Oystercard

Suspicious partners use Oystercard to track infidelities. Ian sent me a link to an article in Sunday’s Independent, about how people were using Oystercard to track their partner’s travel movements.

"Oyster cards, the ‘smart’ little blue thing in London commuters’ wallets that enable them to travel at will around the capital, have another, unexpected function. They could also be a one-way ticket to the divorce courts."

As your every journey is recorded on an Oystercard it seems a great way to spy on your partner if you are that way inclined. ‘The electronic lipstick-on-the-collar is revealed to anyone – the holder or their partner – who takes the card to a machine on the Underground or keys in its serial number on a website to get a read-out of every journey taken in the past 10 weeks.’

One private investigator said: ‘Oyster cards won’t tell you that the bloke’s been cheating on his wife, but it will show if he’s been in one part of town when he’s supposed to be somewhere else. It is an easy thing to confront your partner with. It doesn’t look like you’ve been snooping around too much.’ "

The post continues at the link above, complete with picture of Oyster card with lipstick kiss (clicheville).

I can’t use an Oyster card becuase I live in zone 6 and the cards are good only for zones 1 to 4. It is deeply untrendy to live this far out of the centre — to be cool you either have to live right in the hub of the metropolis or really far out of London altogether, eg little village in Kent or Hertforshire or, if money is no object, Henley or some Oxfordshire village.

It is beginning to sound as if zone 6 is actually a pretty safe place to live.

Mind you, the post on London Undeground blog over-eggs the pudding a bit at the end:

"However, it looks like your Oystercard may become even more "useful", as through the article I learnt that Oystercard planners are trying to enable Oystercard holders to pay for their shopping in nearly 4,000 shops with their cards. "The records of where a person has shopped, as well as where they have travelled, will then be stored on the card." So then you’ll not only be able to see where you might be cheated on, but what your partner is buying their lover too!"


The big news over the weekend that the actor Ben Kingsley apparently insists on including his title "Sir" in his movie billing has of course caused a spate of letters to the paper about how non-British people mistook various titles for first names, etc. Today a correspondent reminded us of Sir Cedric Hardwicke and Sir C Aubrey Smith, "without at least one of whom no Hollywood epic of the Thirties or Forties would have been conisdered complete." Hmmmm.

But I found another letter on the topic more poignant. In full, it reads:

"Sir, The most risible example known to me of a title mistaken for a name occurred in the racially segregated prewar American South.

A popular brand of rolling tobacco was called Prince Albert. As the face on the tin was unmistakeably white, shopkeepers required their black customers to refer to it as "Mr Prince Albert".

Shame. Profound shame.

Reading quiz

Quizzes are being used to encourage children to read. There are 67,000 schools in the world using the Accelerated Reader programme invented in 1986 by "an American mother". According to Cyril Taylor, chairman of a schools trust in the UK, 150,000 children a year are going into secondary schools (at age 11) unable to read. Now, 1500 schools in the UK have signed up to the programme "Renaissance Learning", which has a library of 8000 quizzes and writes 400 new ones a month.

I read a story about this in today’s Times and had a look at the Renaissance Learning site to see what these quizzes are like. Unfortunately, you can’t see any, you have to buy them. Also you can only see about 4 book titles (Including one called "When Mum Threw Out the Telly"). Disappointing, as I quite liked the idea of picking a few books and doing the quizzes (the Times article mentioned Harry Potter and Shakespeare), but not enough to buy the software (or whatever format they are in), sight unseen. Surely to get customers RL could have a sample quiz on their website?

Lost in translation again

Last month I wrote a post about a couple who did not like Thailand so booked a trip to Tenerife yet ended up in Tel Aviv.

Well, it has happened again. From today’s Times: "Jennifer Edwards, 24, arrived in Calcutta in the early hours to find that Thomas Cook had booked her a hotel room in Calicut, 1200 miles away in southern India."

Must make a note not to end up in Lincolnshire next time I try to go to Boston. Or perhaps a more accurate analogy, must check that I’m not going to Beijing next time I want to travel to Berlin.