(james benedict brown) on the road

The circular strike

Posted in Posts by James Benedict Brown on 7 October, 2008

The Cathcart Circle railway line that snakes through our little corner of Govanhill and Queen’s Park is our handy link to the centre of Glasgow. It takes just six minutes and £1.35 to get from our stop into Central Station, which is both quicker and cheaper than the cynically expensive bus. The lines (and most every other one in Scotland) however, are much quieter today, as the RMT calls the first of two twenty-four hour strikes this week (from 12h00 midday today and 12h00 midday on Thursday). As with all labour disputes, there are of course two sides (link and link – thanks Monkey for the URLs) to every story.


23 minutes more sunlight for £23.45

Posted in Posts by James Benedict Brown on 27 July, 2008

Glasgow is only about 2º north of Sheffield, but today it enjoyed 23 more minutes of daylight. One extra minute of beautiful northern light for every pound it cost me to get up here. All I need now is a job to pay for those 23 minutes… answers on a postcard, please.

Snapshots: Thetford Station

Posted in Posts by James Benedict Brown on 11 April, 2008

Rule #1 of indy podcasting: don’t waste time asking

Posted in Posts by James Benedict Brown on 3 March, 2008

What’s it like inside the mind and email inbox of an amateur podcaster? Here are some e-mails sent and received in preparation of the production and recording of ontheroad podcast episode 07. Proof, if I ever really needed it, that there’s no point asking when you know that the answer is likely to be no.

From: James Brown
To: Debbie M_____, East Midlands Trains
Date: Wednesday, 13 February, 2008 11:13:11 AM
Re: Podcast recording at Sheffield Station

Dear Ms Mather,

I’ve been passed your contact details by the EMT customer relations team.

I am a postgraduate student at the University of Sheffield, and an independent podcaster. I produce about six podcasts a year, which record the places and people I meet on my travels. The podcast currently has a very small audience (three figures max) who access the podcast through my website and iTunes.

For Valentines Day, I want to produce a short episode of the podcast that speaks to the people waiting for their loved ones at Sheffield station. Every year I see countless people waiting with large bouquets of flowers, and each one will have a story that I am interested to hear.

I am therefore seeking your permission to spend a couple of hours towards the end of Valentines Day at Sheffield station, asking those who are obviously waiting for loved ones who they are waiting for, how they met etc. I will only record these conversations with their permission, and will not seek to disrupt the smooth running of the station. No commercial gain will be made from this activity, and East Midlands Trains will naturally be credited in the podcast.

For more details about the ephemeral nature of the show, please see:


You can reach me by email or on 07790 XXXXXX.

Many thanks,

James Brown

A few hours later, I got a reply. Unfortunately…

From: Debbie M_____, East Midlands Trains
To: James Brown
Date: Wednesday, 13 February, 2008 4:02:08 PM
Re: Debbie Mather is out of the office…

I will be out of the office starting 13/02/2008 and will not return until 20/02/2008.

I’ll respond to your message on my return.

This email and any files transmitted with it are confidential and intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to whom they are addresses. If you have received this email in error please notify the East Midlands Trains IT Department on 44 (0) 1332 XXXXXX.

So, in the quandry of a tight deadline and no official permission to record, I did what any self respecting podcaster would do. I went ahead and made the show anyway. Good thing that I did, because a week later…

From: Debbie M_____, East Midlands Trains
To:James Brown
Date: Wednesday, 20 February, 2008 8:15:27 AM
Re: Podcast recording at Sheffield Station

Hello James

As I am sure you can imagine we receive quite a number of requests to use our premises as a filming or recording location. For commercial filming we charge upwards for £250 per hour and we simply do not have the resource to make arrangements free of charge, as each request requires certain administrative work and supervision on the day.

I am afraid we cannot give permission to you and I apologise for any disappointment this may cause.


Debbie M_____
Communications Executive
East Midlands Trains

So, retrospective permission for the podcast that was recorded, edited and published a week earlier could not be given. Should I be expecting a bill?