Playing the Oak Trombone


What is this about?

Sad old seasoned commuters collect little tricks as they get used to moving around London; they know where you can change tube lines easily, where key bus routes go and where to stand on the platform so as to be near the exit when they get off the tube. This is about a game that you can play if you have to get the Hammersmith & City / Circle line from Paddington Eastbound (i.e. towards Kings Cross) in the morning. This game involves the use of Royal Oak station, hence the ‘Oak’ in the title (the Trombone comes later!).

How do you play?

The problem with the journey from Paddington Eastbound is that the platform is full as is the tube and it can be difficult to get on, never mind get a seat. It is also the case that tubes can be many minutes apart (ten this morning) leaving you stood jostling fellow commuters in the cold and rain.

One day you are stood there with the board indicating 7 minutes until the next tube Eastbound when a tube arrives going the other way; this tube is less than half full and you are cold, so what do you do? You jump on for one stop, get off at the next station (Royal Oak) and cross the platform. This lets you get on the train Eastbound before Paddington! Result! What’s more you spend more time in the dry!

You soon realise that on any morning a dozen or so other commuters are doing the same thing!

How do you score points?

Scoring points is easy:

  • Getting to Royal Oak before the return train: 1 Point
  • Getting to Royal Oak as the return train does: 2 Points
  • Getting a seat on the tube as passengers get off at Paddington: 1 bonus point
  • Watching the Eastbound train pass you on the way to Royal Oak: -2 points

Why Trombone?

This comes from a usage I first encountered in mobile telephony and latterly Wide Area Networking in general. They have the ‘verbism’ of trombining (see last week’s moan about abuse of language here) used when you route traffic by a longer route then seem topologically sensible because it involves cheaper or faster circuits [there is also another usage of tromboning which google will lead you too – I don’t mean that one].

Thanks for reading – this is me by the way!

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About Tony Jones
Big Finish writer, reviewer and blogger, I'm interested in science fiction and Doctor Who. I review for CultBox, The Doctor Who Companion and others. I am also Audio Drama editor for Starburst Magazine, and write the occasional piece for Vortex, the BSFA critical magazine.

5 Responses to Playing the Oak Trombone

  1. James French says:

    Those that live the daily delight of the Northern Line will regularly play this game – though with the added complication of a middle-C note on the trombone. Two stops south to Balham, with a cheeky look from the carriage through the connecting tunnel at Clapham South, to check platform status

    • HelmStone says:

      I wonder if Mornington Crescent can get worked into a trombone

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