Thursday, December 10, 2009

Just a Man on the Bus

Public transport has become a way of life for me. It's a daily necessity.

And I don't look back on my days as a car owner with fondness.

No road tax to pay, no vehicle insurance, no fuel costs1, no MOT2, no breakdown recovery and repair and no service bills.

Certainly, you get the freedom: the freedom that is the shackles of all those financial commitments. And just when you think you have some extra cash saved for a holiday to the South of France, your gearbox explodes. bang goes the gearbox, bang goes the holiday.

Public transport - in the age of the Internet - is the best place to learn social skills. Forget that social networking shit. Catch a bus or a train.

The vagrants who occupy bus stations across the land, the ones who sit there with their cheap booze, and threadbare clothes: they're the ones who have the real stories, the ones who have led real lives. Just try talking to one, you might be surprised as to what you learn.

Then there are the same people you see, at the same stops, with the same glum faces. Somebody cracks a joke about Tiger Woods losing several advertising deals but landing a multi-million advertising contract with Durex, and the glum faces are replaced with smiles.

The sounds of complaint about the weather are replaced with sounds laughter. More jokes are told.

We mostly ever see each other on the station or on the bus. But we know each other's names. And when we chance upon on one another in a pub, we speak, and are introduced to each others' friends.

Now, this is real social networking.

1At £1.10 a litre, this makes £4.95 a gallon. In us dollars, I estimate that to be around $8.00 US. It's not cheap.

2The MOT certificate. You don't have one, you can't get insurance, or if you have a certificate and it expires your insurance is invalid. But, of course, it promotes road safety.

Apologies for incoherence. Post skunk post.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Missing A Stop

To say the day had been exhausting would not accurately illustrate the truth. Catching the train home from London, falling asleep and waking up in another country would.
Of course, there's nothing wrong with an unplanned trip to Scotland. But there's something wrong with cockroach infested B & Bs who charge forty-five quid a night.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

On an Island - Lord of the Flies

There are parts of the UK that seem similar to the island in Lord of the Flies.
The youth run wild, feral children of the night. No future, no prospects, no education. Just drugs, booze, burglary, prison and early death.
Cheered you up, have I?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Defining Moments: "I'm a grown up now"

We can all remember, with a little gentle coaxing, one of the first times as a child that we felt like we were growing up.

The first one that springs to mind for me was the first time I ever crossed the main road alone. It was a route I'd travelled many times with my mother. And now she was trusting me to go alone. She trusted that I wouldn't end up like a lot of the hedgehogs, foxes and badgers did: squashed and very dead.

Not only did she trust that I would cross the road safely, she was trusting herself; that she had taught me well how to recognise when it was safe to cross the road.

She had taught me not to talk to strangers, accept sweets from them, or go and see puppies with them.

At last, I was an adult. At nine years old. I could cross the road on my own and mum trusted me with that, and all that stuff about strangers.

That stuff with strangers, you know, it changes as we get older. I realised this one night a few years ago.


I was sat in a pub when I struck up a conversation with this bloke who had a Marshall Amplification t-shirt on. Figuring he was a guitar player, or a fan of guitars at least, I kicked things off by asking him who the greatest player of all time was.

Unusually, he had the right answer. And I liked that. The answer? "You can't say that there is just one great player. That would be a load of bollocks. There are a lot of players who you could say are a lot better than average bedroom noodler."

Straight away, we were into a friendly, but not serious, conversation about music, which bands did it for us, who shouldn't have died from an OD, and all that other stuff.

Before I knew it we were buying each other beers and chain smoking and he said there was this great band on at a club tonight and that we should go.

It was at that point that I made a quick assessment as to whether I was going to end up dead in a basement after being violently sexually assaulted. It seems sensible to me, to make this kind of assessment, given how much my mum told me about strangers as a kid. And I decided I was okay.

After a quick phone call to say I would be out late (or early depending on how you look at it) we headed for the club. I'd already broken the first two rules: I had spoken to a stranger, accepted the sweets. And now I was breaking the third: I was going to see the puppies.

Turned out it was a good night and a good band. But what it got me thinking is this: At what point does it go from being unsafe to talk to strangers, take stuff from them, and go to a place where you normally would go with them, to being perfectly safe?

When does that happen?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Modern Medical Trepanning. Or Get Out The Electric Drill

"A doctor in Australia used a household drill to bore into a boy's skull and drain it of blood clots as his local hospital lacked the required tools."

Source: BBC News

Thursday, April 16, 2009

"How can we rip you off today, sir?"

When are corporations going to get the message that we are fucking sick of being ripped off.

After work, I thought I'd check the local rag to see what was showing at the cinema, the cinema that is owned by a big fucking corporation.

Instead of finding cinema times, as are normally published on Thursday, I found an advert from them, stating that if I wanted to find out cinema times, I had to ring a premium rate phone number.

Fuck that. I'll wait until the film comes out on DVD.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

25 Years

Way back in 1984 I was eleven years old and the coal miners of England were on strike. Well, some of them were.

Those who weren't would have their homes targetted, windows broken, grafitti daubed on walls: "SCAB BASTARD" is the one I remember. I wasn't sure what bastard meant at the time, but I knew it was not a nice word. Now, I can't understand how breaking a strike would question one's legitimacy.

The children of scabs would have to have police escorts to school. I'm glad my dad was not a miner. I saw some adults do some pretty hideous things to each other, and worse still, to kids. Even kids did hideous things to other kids, throwing stones at each other, putting excrement in emptied crisp packets and throwing them at each other. These were kids of eight or nine, kids in my class at school. I didn't get involved. My dad wasn't a miner. I hated what was happening. I didn't understand any of it, but I knew it was all wrong.

The riots of that time have been well documented and I choose not to write about them here, since I didn't experience them first hand. But others did:

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Never Been A Boat Yard

No boats, just pipes. The whole yard was full of pipes.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Push Bar to Open

"You can't stand there. You're blocking a fire exit."

Well, it's always my intention to stand blocking fire exits to ensure that everybody, including me, dies in the event of a fire. I would never simply turn around, open the doors,and leave, running faster than an Olympic athlete on performance enhancing drugs, in the event of a fire.

What steps would I take in the event of a fire?

Fucking big ones.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Britain: The Laughing Stock of The World

Like several million other Britons today, I could not get to work. Why? Because a tiny bit of snow brought roads to a halt.

A man was clearing a path to the Town Hall, then he appeared to give up and went back to his pick-up. Can't say I blame him when very few people were at work.

The roads were getting better but still not many people wanted to drive.
This car park is normally full.
So, what country do you live in, and can you get to work when there has been a tiny bit of snow, and I mean tiny bit. Tell me how you get to work in 3 foot of snow, I know you can do this, where we Brits fail.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Is this a maths test?

There must be something I don't know. Happen seventeen minutes is the ideal duration for checking email. Anyway, I didn't put myself through three hours of air travel to check my email. And why is the Russian tarif advertised per minute and not per seventeen minutes? Maybe they don't have as much to say. Or maybe they have more sense than to throw their money at telephone companies, unlike, oh, I don't know, the British.

When I originally tried to take this picture, a woman came out of the shop and screamed at me in Spanish. I couldn't understand what she was saying but am fairly sure she was going to ram the camera up the English pig's arse if he took a picture of her shop without first spending money. I scurried off and hid in a nearby tourist shop, which mostly sold the obligatory tourist crap, for a couple of minutes and went back to get the above shot, taken from a coward's angle. Nah-nah-ne-nah-nah.

While hiding in the tourist shop, pretending to be interested in paper-weights and pens which made the lady naked upon tipping, I noticed some t-shirts which told me, I *heart* Benidorm, and didn't buy one.