Well, that’s a bit of a worry.

A study today – researched with all the rigour a single train journey allows – shows a key finding that I’m sharing the carriage with a bunch of bloody Nazi’s. This hypothesis is based on a random sampling of those performing the three handed trick of coffee, briefcase and newspaper. And the newspaper of choice was the Daily Flail.

This is not some statistical anomaly, over 50% of these suited and jackbooted city types were nodding away at a politically correct version of “Johnny Foreigner starts at Calais and that’s where he should bloody well stay’. Cautiously I peeked inside an abandoned copy to check whether my prejudices were as bad as those reading the Mail. They are, mine aren’t – it’s all sneering at liberalism, and spiteful vitriol at an all encompassing moral sub class defined as “Anti Britishness“. All the history you’ll ever need to learn from the Union Jack and a copy of Biggles.

So aside from those commuting to the London offices of the Gestapo, what were the remainder of my esteemed travelers reading? Around 10% were struggling with the full size but comparatively moderate Daily ToryGraph, a few more checking the size of their portfolios in the Financial times and the rest plotting world domination on that crucible of the modern communications age; Lucifers Notebook. Known as the Blackberry by those who own them and “oh for God’s sake, turn the bloody thing off will you” by the rest of us.

A friend of mine perfectly places it at the centre of all things stupid with this comment: “I sat next to a bloke with a Blackberry on the tube the other month. He was beavering away spinning his little jogwheel and pressing buttons, giving every impression of being a vital informational hub in his critical enterprise. Actually he was playing Tetris.”

Anyway I digress but for good reason because train journeys should be for sleep, reading or slack jawed looking out of the window. Not balancing every electronic item you own on your knee and then looking horrified as someone accidentally spills coffee all over them.

So that accounts for most reading material in the carriage. Of those left, one bloke was getting excited reading an article on “how to install bow thrusters�? and exactly one other was reading the Guardian. That’d be me then. I expected, at any time, to be asked for my paper and possibly my papers before being ejected from the train. “Go and live in a nude commune, you bloody tax dodging hippy’ would have been their derisive farewell cry as I plunged down the embankment.

So all in all a bit of a quandary; as a self confessed hand wringing liberal, I feel I must vigorously defend everyone’s right to be intellectually closeted and mean spirited. But does that include those who read the Mail? Talk about pushing the limits of democratic acceptability. Surely I should be allowed to harm one of them if only to set an example?

What to do? Maybe I’ll source a copy of the Sun or Daily Star in the spirit of comparative experimentation. This may be troublesome as the station café offers only right wing ideology and copies of Mein Kampf. But I think it’ll be worth the effort.

Right now that’s off my chest, next up is the story of a bloke with – literally – a rocket up his arse. The kind of story the Daily Mail would approvingly headline “Illegal Immigrants on fast track home”

Well that’s breakfast sorted then.

I see from the Torygraph that you can now digest the daily calorific limit with just a single meal from Burger King. Sounds good to me, get out of bed, drive to the nearest SuperSizeMe outlet and tuck into an athlete’s breakfast. On the downside, the rest of the day is a bit of a write off since your bloated stomach will demand heroic efforts are made to break down a pound of saturated fat. A process that is best approached from a horizontal position while exercising lightly with the TV remote control.

In the same way that alcohol makes people appear thinner and more attractive, burgers have the opposite effect adding chins, dribble and nailed on certainly heart failure to a list of existing mental defects including limited willpower. Ostrich like though this behavior is, it does mirror what passes for chocolate eating rationale while on a slimming diet.

You know the kind of thing; “It says I can have a glass of wine and a bacon sandwich for breakfast followed by an entire bison for lunch as long as I include too oxygenating vegetables“. Even with only sufficient nutritional knowledge to barely separate green beans from baked beans, even I can see this for the nonsense it so obviously is. How can dieting be a multi million pound industry when anyone with a pair of friendly braincells knows the basic truth that if you eat less and exercise more, you’ll live longer.

You may not even lose weight but it’ll be distributed in such a way that you stop giving off the shifty impression you’re attempting to smuggle a bowling ball in your stomach lining. I’m not being fattest here, I’m just trying to inject a sense of reality into the extremes of so called professional advice on offer. At one end you’ve got those fat fucks (ok I’m being fattest now, it’s not like you can outrun me) who can barely walk a mile without keeling over and damaging the earth’s mantle, and at the other the body Nazi’s to whom a microgram of fat is analogous to anthrax.

If we’re going to chuck around worthless statistics and pointless diets, then let me add this; well known fact that below the age of thirty most of us have hummingbird metabolisms and can eat and drink our own bodyweight daily with non trouser shopping required. Hit thirty one, wake up, you’re a fat bastard. If that’s a body shape you’re comfortable with then you’re entitled to tell anyone who smokes, drinks or partakes in recreational pharmaceuticals to mind their own bloody business. Otherwise, do something, anything but don’t subscribe to the stupidity that is diet marketing. And don’t blame big bones or the ruthless buggers that tempt you with burgers/chocolate/crisps at every turn.

Oops, turned into a bit of a righteous tirade that did. And that’s pretty hypocritical as I’m hardly the perfect physical specimen what with a fluid intake that’s basically hops lightened up with a splash of water. My own advice would suggest cutting out the beer and instead getting down with the abdominal crunch crowd.

But now you’re just being silly. And that’s my job.

A question of degrees.

At the arse end of four educationally untroubled years, I was surprisingly awarded a first class honours degree by half of one percent. My perennial roommate was a swotty top of our class and received a£50 merit prize. I received partial liver failure and a late night Snickers habit.

A year later, the polytechnic invited me back to address the undergraduates. Their less than subtle subtext was to convince their drunken charges that if only they’d stop fondling each other long enough, they’d realise a little bit of application now maketh a successful career.

My less subtle state of undress – they really should have twigged my refusal to wear a suit or to provide a copy of my speech likely hid a fifth columnist – directed a rambling monologue on life in the real world. It can – and I’m sorry to report, it was – summed up with a single piece of robust advice “Have as much fun, sex and booze as you can now, as it’s properly miserable out here”. Surprisingly, I wasn’t invited back.

Continue reading A question of degrees.

A beer? Do you want a breast with that?

Titty Bars. Gentlemen’s clubs. Pole Dancing Emporiums. Call them what you will but, resident in every world capital, they harvest big bucks from a hardcore of men for whom the Internet is just a bit tame.

There’s a shared deceit around attendance motivation. “It’s just a bit of fun“, “The girls get paid well, what’s the problem�? and “it’s no worse than downloading porn off the Internet“. Maybe, maybe not.

Prudish though this sounds, I really struggle with these places. On entry into the dim portal of watered down drinks and excited sweaty bodies, I turn instantly gay. The girls are, understandably as it’s a buyers’ market, incredibly beautiful, their tanned and lithe torsos’ standing on legs that finish somewhere close to their armpits. They’re all revealing outfits and seductive smiles at the start of a dance, with those outfits lasting all the time it takes for some guy to throw a twenty onto the stage. The smiles stay though, they are the money capacitor – turn up the wattage and watch the cash flow in.

My problem with such places isn’t really that it’s degrading for both sexes, slightly seedy or horribly contrived. It’s the denial of a middle aged bloke rolling in cash and fat, truly believing that this Goddess of Beauty actually finds him witty and attractive. You just want to shout “it’s a business transaction mate, flash the cash or she’ll be off to leech the next tragic victim“.

I sit and watch and feel like a fraud. When some vision of sex floats up and offers a private dance, you only need to nod faintly before the sales spiel clicks smoothly in and the rules of the game are explained. Twenty Dollars but no touching, kissing or knocking one out in front of me. Get frisky and the twenty stone hunk of bored beef in the corner will rip off your head and piss down the whole. I’m paraphrasing a little but the sense of the transaction should come across.

I never go. Others do and return with obvious enjoyment plastered across flushed faces. Dance follows dance, and soon it’s just Big Gay Al necking watery beer and wondering when excuses can deliver a hasty exit. The cold night air is fresh enough to wash away the stink of cigarettes and half formed sexual acts. It’s a bloody relief and again I tell myself this is absolutely the last time. Until the next time, anyway.

Okay I’m a prude. Because I can’t really enjoy the show, it seems apposite to preach a pious sermon instead. In reality, these places don’t do any harm, they’re serving a need of sorts and even offer up some amusing connotations such as the “Businessman’s Lunch�?. What’s that then? “Naked women starter, breast of inner thigh to follow and sweet nothings to finish“. But still a lingering sense of doubt remains.

Whereas obviously downloading porn off T’Internet and giving the old fella a vigorous rub in your own home is fine. Allegedly, not that you’d fine me doing treading the subtle line between public and private masturbation.

Not with Carol reading this blog anyway.

It’s all our own fault

Last year, some madman fretted that our children may be physically blighted or mentally scarred through the violent exchange of stringy conkers. This week a council is cordoning off a copse of malignant trees and their fruity ammunition. Last month, we had Mad Ken sound biting policy initiatives to license plate cycles and imprison non bell ringers. How much of this is feeding a slow news day and how much is rampant political posturing is hard to say. But it’s clearly silly and yet there is something a little darker emerging.

Firstly, however, anything like this should be wrapped in neon-signed “handle with extreme care�? warning as it’s essentially the Daily Flail gone global. We’re always looking for politically correct gibberish to first ridicule and then shape as a stick to beat the hand wringing, lentil eaters who defend such nonsense. For every ‘Pear Tree Could Be a Killer” and “Conkers – the new Weapons Of Mass Destruction” screaming taglines are mitigating scenarios where badly supervised kids die in rivers and un-maintained tracks derail trains.

A sense of perspective should act as a prism to divine the lay lines of truth buried under the headline selling static. But there is no doubt that, as a society, we’re dealing with far more restrictive regulation reinforcing a culture of personal irresponsibility. No one is to blame, so everyone is to blame. It’s hard to see how this can work both ways, either we learn to take responsibility for our actions and those in our care, or we submit meekly to a state who feels they must do it for us, however crassly.

Less than a lifespan ago, kids of 19 and 20 were battling for their lives and the freedom of all civilisation over the skies of Southern Britain. Since those times, successive governments, of all colours, have stealthily eroded our ability to take our own chances and live or die by the consequences. If those young men had the attitude of a similar sample today, I wonder would they have risked anything to save everything.

It’s probably a specious argument, but whole generations will soon be lost to the power of individual choice if we aren’t allowed to walk the line between social responsibility and freedom of the non mandated option. We’re not sheep, there is more than one path to take, many sides to an argument, infinite outlets for expression. More baring of teeth and less toothless baa-ing would be an alternate approach.

Do you know how many Health and Safely officers there are in France? None, that’s right, if you want to dice with death under a swollen pear tree, c’est la vie. We could do much worse than adopt such a carefree attitude.

God, I’m turning into my Dad.

Congestion Charge

Apparently plans are afoot (although maybe awheel would be a better description) to increase congestion charges, car tax and flight surcharges. Such a move should ensure the private companies and government can increase the indirect tax burden by extolling their green credentials. I’m sure if the melting Greenland ice mass had any kind of facial features, it’d be wearing a happy expression and possibly a hat at a jaunty angle. And the again, maybe – if we now extend it’s humanism to include half a brain – it’d realise that this is nothing more than windsock politics mated incestuously to sanctimonious sound bites.

But that’s not what this is about. Although I may return to it later once I’ve calmed down a bit.

This morning the train suffered congestion. Now those of you born after Jimi Hendrix died (i.e. of a proper age) may remember a British Rail advert where an InterCity 125 rolled unconcerned past lines of stranded vehicles unmoving due traffic congestion. Well I’d like to take somebody to task about this although this is extremely unlikely since everyone in so called authority abandoned the failing railway with their fat state funded pensions years ago.

Nevertheless as Viz so memorably put it: someone should be told. Can someone explain to me how a train track can suffer congestion? It’s not like a few extra trains from another operator can be slipped in is it? Or maybe they can “Yeah, Hi it’s Ron from GWR, Paddington is a right shit hole this morning, can we stuff a few of ours in Marylebone? They’ll be a beer and some pork scratchings in it for you”

There can be no other logical explanation other than an alien abduction of a platform or the timetabling software generously allocating terminating berths in some kind of fantasy configuration: yes 4 in the main platform, two on the roof and one in fourth dimensional phase space.

Ah the timetable or “an aspirational vision” as Chiltern Railways like to think of it. Not even lightly bolted to the planet we call reality. The driver this morning differed from our normal happy go unbothered “there will be a three day delay because the executives are sorting out their bonuses but I don’t care as I get paid anyway” being supplanted by Marvin the Paranoid Android on anti depressants “I’m really sorry you’ve been abandoned in this dark dank tunnel, it’s probably congestion but who the hell knows, nobody tells me anything and I’ve read Austin and Keats but they just treat us like robots…” at which point I turned up the MP3 player and waited for nightfall.

This does put me in mind of graffiti scrawled on a platform around the same time of the lying advert. Satirically lampooning BR’s timetable, it suffixed the boast “25 Trains leave from this station for London EVERY DAY” with “Yeah, but only seven get back“.

Graffiti is not what it was.

Hospital Diary: Day 1

In the last five years, Mountain Biking has taken me to many special places. Almost none of these include prolonged stays in hospital. Oh I’ve crashed a lot, escaped painful injury through a combination of lady luck and body armour while ferrying/carrying/laughing at those unfortunates who have collected scars, plaster casts and hospital food as badges of honour.

Of course it’ll never happen to me. I’m too busy/nesh/careful to have an accident requiring hospitalisation. Especially on a day I’d no intention to ride. Realistically hammering a nail through an unsuspecting finger or receiving a paint based toxicology injury were far more likely. Yep, that was me, rebel with a paintbrush.

What follows is chronologically romp through the low and lower points of the following four days. Please don’t misunderstand me here; I’ve not edited out the high points; there just weren’t any.


Received pleading text message from Andy desperate for a beer with a pre-ride chaser. The happy discovery that my slapdash “chuck it at the fence and see what sticks” painting technique had exhausted our paint supplies, created a window of opportunity through which I joyfully jumped and headed out to the trails.

Since riding was cutting deep into our drinking time, we raced sun baked dusty trails serially excusing piss poor performance through pointlessly high corner entry speeds, poor line choice and fitness grown fat on summer beer. Kicking dust motes skywards silhouetted against a falling sun, we revelled in the rock hard ground – riding fast and loose on trails cartographed into my mind and hard wired into my muscles.

Much much more fun than anything with a paintbrush.

Heading pubwards on a cheeky evening bridleway with only the sound of Andy’s chattering forks inches from my rear tyre for company, the off camber, steep sided flinty trail was treated with lofty disdain which familiarity breeds. I mean this is the benign Chilterns for God’s sake, there’s nothing dangerous here and there is no way I’m letting the old fat fella get past me. Bragging rights over a cold beer await.

Oh dear. I appear to have crashed rather badly.


Andy, fellow professional northerner and trained first aider, took a look at the damage while pointedly ignoring my whimpering. The knee looked dreadful but didn’t hurt much. Well not as much as a wrist to shoulder wound filled with trail dirt and seasoned heavily with AB rhesus positive. And my shoulders were spasming amusingly not due to the original crash rather Andy’s riderless bike smashing into them while I lie prone and winded. Talk about adding insult to injury – the insult was “fucking hell, aren’t I suffering enough?”

“Tha’ll be needing to get that to ‘ospital lad” Andy offered while pouring cold water into open wounds and fashioning bandages from handkerchiefs. “Can tha ride?” he asked followed by a scratch of the chin and a reflective “Tha’d better be able to cause its fooking miles back t’car”” Who could refuse such an offer as that?

It wasn”t that bad actually as long as I didn’t look at it. Other trail users looked aghast as flaps of skin spitting blood were accompanied by a cheery “nothing to worry about, a mere flesh wound“. Adrenalin is a fine pain killer, it just doesn’t last very long.

It lasted long enough for Andy to drive me to hospital and to be gently prodded by the triage nurse. “How did you do this then?” she innocently enquired to which I couldn’t help but reply “Badly executed throw at the All-Chiltern Herring Chucking Contest” which earned me a tighter bandage that I would otherwise expected. I’m assuming this was also the reason she spurned my offer to clean up my arm during the expected two hour wait to be treated. Instead I took her advice that “somebody who knows what they’re doing should sort that for you” and watch it form a painful crust infused with bits of tree and rock.

My knee hurts now. Andy’s taken the car and bikes and my wife and kids’ll be back soon. I feel like an idiot. I also feel like some strong painkillers would be in order. Still the thought of a couple of medicinal Scotches post stitching keeps my spirits up.

Amazing I mused. Apparently we’ve put twice as much money into the NHS over the last seven years than during the previous period. Is it just me wondering where all the bloody money went? The magazine collection kept me amused if not interested. Aside from the thousand facsimiles of Womans Weekly – content “10 ways to get thin this summer”, “Why Men are Bastards” and “Asparagus – the forgotten vegetable” – I was left with those bastions of the hospital circuit “Coarse Fishing” and “What Caravan“” (answer NONE).

Alternating a page of each which is quite amusing in a “Who the hell leaves this stuff here?” way. Why no playboy even with the pages stuck together? I’m building a theory that old magazines never die, they just shuffle off into a parallel waiting room existence. Go on, try and and find “Carp World incorporating who gives a fuck” in any proper retailer. Never going to happen.

Finally called with a few others to the “Minor Injuries Unit“. Minor Injury, excuse me I don’t want to go all Tony Hancock on you here but I’ve almost lost a leg. Wife and Kids turn up wanting to see the damage – find pissed off dad/husband wanting to get this over with and go home. Sweaty, tired and in a bit of pain but mostly playing it back through my mind – how did I fall off there right on my doorstep. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Still here. Still not been seen. Lots of ill looking people. Want to be out of here more than almost anything. One child accidentally knocks bloody knee. Consider adoption.

“Oh that’s pretty bad, we may need to keep you in” was the initial assessment of a rather jolly nurse called Peter. Nurse? Bloke? Is it just me? Anyway, the Doctor on call is a bit busy so they’ll send me to X-Ray just in case there’s bone floating about in there. Suddenly this has got a little serious. Keep me in? Jesus, that was like meeting the grim reaper down the pub. Talk about unexpected and scary.

Arrive at X-Ray. Radiologist is in theatre dealing with an emergency. That’s not me then. I spend some quality time counting bricks in a wall and reading how Kylie conquered breast cancer. Think she probably didn’t have to deal with the NHS, shame a bit of a sing song would cheer the “Non X-Ray’d 4″ up no end. My three companions are in various states of dress and physical fitness. Between us there’s probably one healthy body. Hope no one gets my liver.

Pontificating on whether I could pay BUPA to pick me up and pamper me senseless even if I have to mortgage the house. Knee swollen and painful, arm not really any use as the blood/scar tissue have set solid. Mind on a loop “stupid, stupid, stupid

Hot Spare Radiologist arrives. Hurray! Two other cases more important than me and since once is strapped to a spinal board and the other is a young women in serious finger pain (having dislocated said digit prodding her boyfriend – man he’s trying hard not to piss himself laughing), I can hardly complain.

Third case more important. Irritatingly tap non injured leg and barely contain urge to scream at someone.

“Can you lay you knee flat?” “oooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwww ohfuckohfuckno” “okay then, do the best you can“. She’s being nice but clearly thinks I’m being a total wimp.

Back in the Minor Injuries unit feeling majorly injured. Dislocated finger girl screaming as they try to point her digit the same way as the other three. Christ I hate hospitals, they are full of sick people.

Finally Doctor bloke walks in looking knackered and stressed. He’s way younger than me but even more world weary. Takes a look, makes a noise like the car mechanic when explaining that a million pounds might just cover it, and instructs various minions to clean out the wounds so he can stitch it.

Wow we’re really moving now. Male Nurse (ug, is it still me?) is a top bloke and decides there is no way they can clean it without either knocking me out or giving me a stick to chew on. We agree on a halfway house where he injects anaesthetic into the open wound. I’ll not forget that in a hurry. I ask for the stick anyway. Here’s a tip – when someone wearing any kind of medical attire apologises with “this may hurt a bit“they really are leveraging the power of understatement.

Bliss. Knee is on planet pissed and I can#t feel anything. Purple haired nurse turns up and cleans it out bringing forth an extraordinary cocktail of trail debris. Any minute now I’m expecting that scene out of alien and something badger sized to leap out of the gaping wound. My disappointment deepened when the non anesthetised arm is at the mercy of what I can only describe as a hygienic wire brush. Bring back the needles. And the stick.

Anaesthetic wearing off. This is not good as the Doc has to stitch this and the though of him wielding the needle on swollen, tender skin has me on the wrong side of extremely perturbed. Carol’s logistically perfect as ever and grimly endures my whinging monologue happy in the knowledge that Andy – parenting technique: “tha makes any noise and I’ll put pair of ya in t’cooking pot”. is now looking after the kids at home.

Doc returns breathless apologising for his tardiness. I’m a bit irritated and it shows but he spreads his hands wide and explains “I’ve been dealing with a brain tumour“. That’s me told then. I hope it’s not his own, scars I can live with, a non working knee ruthlessly removes bikes from my future. That’s almost as bad as losing a drinking arm.

Before he can stitch the knee, he must ensure the bone isn’t perforated. More syringes filled with saline are injected into the bone and any sprinkler like results mean major surgery.

Three times he tries and three times he hits bone. Oh fucking hell that really hurts. Really stupidly elbow bitingly hurts. Like a knife cutting into the bone and twisting and then twisting some more. He leaves looking concerned and I’m convinced he’s off to find a bigger needle and Steve Backley to javelin it in from the next ward.

Consultant arrives. Hes even younger. Jeez, I’m the one wearing short trousers here, surely it should be the other way round? They consult in whispers and then Doc is back to deliver the painful news: “were admitting you, it’s just not clean enough, they’ll have to angle grind it out under a general“. Or something like that.

Great. Bloody Great. Seven hours, not insignificant suffering and only now do you decide it’s too late to do get to theatre tonight. Apparently the op will be tomorrow but I’m wise to the schedule now. If I leave before they send me out in a nice pine coffin, I’ll be lucky.

Hello? Anyone there?

00:30 Wheeled up to the ward in the new part of the hospital. You can tell as the lifts work and it doesn’t smell of piss and pain. Ward seven is my new home and the bed is clean and comfortable. I wonder if it’s too late for food since the last meal was some twelve hours before. The nurse shakes her head pointing apologetically to the “Nil By Mouth” crayoned on my notes.

But would I like some painkillers. Is the bear a pope? I don’t know what they are but within minutes I’m back on the pain free planet idly wondering if the worst is over.

Yeah right.

Follow this for the diary of Day 2

Progress of a sort

Now there is probably a serious social anthropometric statement to be made here. But we’ll ignore such pretentious nonsense and instead focus on the amusing backlash against product marketing and demand creation. Christ that sounds almost as bad – let me tell you what I’m talking about.

Work gave me one of these.

It’s super clever – a synchronised repository for all my e-mail, text messages and calendaring. Essentially a phone shaped device pretending to be half a PC and if that’s not enough it’s equipped with more communications modes than NASA; Bluetooth, infrared, GPRS, Analogue and an electronic facsimile of morse code. Okay, I made one of those up but honestly, the last time I saw so much amazing stuff in a small package, it was filled with class A drugs.

Obviously that was a long time ago and I was only looking. Ahem.

Oh it’s a phone as well. It has a decent camera and if that wasn’t enough offers several million ring polyphonic ring tones, infinite classes to which you can assign contacts, some kind of smart dialling where the number is whipped straight out of your mind and dialled before you can say “what the fuck is happening here” and other advanced stuff buried deep in a manual that is comically four times the size of the device. I can’t just call it a phone, I’ll get sued.

There is just one incy problem with it. It’s a bloody useless phone. Actually it’s pretty useless as a PC as well and the camera is just an excuse to toss drunken photos of body parts to your mates over a communication medium that was developed for targeting missiles. Is it just me that sees this as a tad ironic? Apparently porn is going to be the biggest growth sector (excuse me?) on these multi media monstrosities with Video taking the lead for those who can’t wait to get home to wank over keyboards. Maybe I’m getting old but it smacks of desperation. Download a 30 second image on a tiny screen and knock one out in the toilets. Maybe it’s time to bring back those tyre catalogues that used to adorn the walls of garages. It’d save a fortune on GPRS charges.

Anyway I’m delighted to hear that it’s not just me that’s whinging at the apparent solutions looking for problems or should that be revenue. The ubiquitous Nokia 6210 is now the most sought after phone on Ebay after it went out of production two years ago.

It has no camera, the battery lasts for ever, you can make and receive calls and – get this kids – that’s it! No Java Games, no cut down operating system running Anti Virus scans and bastardised PC applications. No way of receiving your email but decent size keypads so you can text without playing hunt the key. It is essentially a phone. What a fantastic idea.

Apparently they are now selling on Ebay for more than the original retail price. Now that’s properly funny.

I was going to write some snide comment about what drives product development and how we’re all slaves to marketing in that we don’t care what’s best, we only care what’s new. Still having looked at my extensive bike collection with no component older than a decent wine, it may smack of hypocrisy, so I’ll shut up.

Well for the moment at least.

Management Bullshit

This is a fantastically useful website for any of you poor fools who’ve been beached on the sanity barren corporate sandbank. You know who you are – you’re those who’d swapped changing the world for a barely concealed fist of death when confronted by such bollocks as:

However, developing operational and conceptual learning must work within parameters which address the need for strategic decision-making oriented to market growth vectors. ”

/Waves again.

If you can’t beat them (to death) join them.

I’ll wager a small prize for anyone who straight faces three hits in a single meeting. If you get fired, I’ll double the prize; if you get promoted, except violence.

I’m not going to play. The place I work it’d be “to your left a barrel of fish, to your right, a rifle”. Although the next arsehole who feels the urge “to de-risk the event horizon” will be feeling the flat of my hand.

Commuting Viagra.

It’s been a while since I’ve allowed myself a proper rant at Chiltern Railways. This isn’t because the perilous and difficult journey from South Bucks to London has in any way improved – it’s more about a level of resignation that’s been beaten into me through a year of commuting. But today they pushed me over the edge.

Although to properly stretch that metaphor, you should think of it as being fired into the abyss by cannon. The root of my discontent is not the new platform built so far away from the station that one should be provisioned with sandwiches to fortify you on the journey. Amazing as it is, they still categorise this distant outpost as part of Marylebone station although a more geographically accurate description would be “South Hampstead” The truly awful consequence of siting the platform in the next borough, is the unedifying sight of fat people struggling up the miles of asphalt – wobbly bits to the fore.

But that’s not the reason I was lemming fired into the ranting chasm. Nor was it Chiltern Railway’s total inability to communicate with their customers. They have acted consistently whenever presented with one of my written missives pleading for some rationale to explain their random decision making when it comes to timetables, bike racks and other myriad areas of Mandelbrot policy.

They’ve ignored them all.

I’ve been forced to complain to a ‘higher authority’ although my route there was plotted through terrifying thickets of ear steaming angst on rail forums. Some of the folk on there, as our American friends would label it, have ‘issues’. I prefer to think of them as barking mad and in need of stronger medication.

Although I’m irritated beyond what’s sensible by their apathy is strategy approach to customer relations, that didn’t fire up my inner grumpy either. Even when the other day when the first train never arrived and the second one had hardly left before stopping to admire the leafy London suburbs, I couldn’t even dignify that as blog food. Once it started to move again, it did so with all the speed of glacial erosion – still my boredom was forestalled by the educational delight of the entire Jurassic age passing by the window.

The reason for my rant was the simple announcement that “This train is for London Marylebone“. No it bloody isn’t, that’s just an aspirational vision foundering on the rocks of we really don’t care – an approach which abandoned us at Harrow. No reason was given although I’ve not ruled out a possible lightening strike brought on by a dispute over Bacon Buttie rations.

The undignified push and shunt onto a passing tube seemed like a possible solution but I’d happily forgotten that these wheeled cigars only give an appearance of speed through noise, vibration and the nervous worry that at any point, the tube would career off the rails. Time based reality distils the truth as a ten mile journey spanned thirty minutes and joggers of immense antiquity passed us with hardly a sweat.

Some bloke modelling June’s “Mr. Motorway HiViz Maintenance” had the temerity to attempt to wrest further funds from my good self in exchange for an Underground ticket. Once I’d informed him that, as far as I was concerned, “You’re all part of F*ckwit central stained with the inability to run a railroad“, further conversation deterioration left me with no choice but to out this bon jot “Even in the remotest inbred village, you would disgrace the rank of idiot“. I’ve been saving that one for a while.

We agreed to differ and, vibrating sideways with righteous anger, I strode onto the Marylebone concourse (had to fetch the bike) only to see happy little trains running in and out of the station.

I’m starting to think this is personal now.

Still at least I can claim compensation. In this digital age, form filling should be a rather simple electronic page or, at worst, a quick email. But not this is Chiltern Railways motto: “Fares from 2015, Systems from 1915” – so it’s no surprise that it’s some kind of super complex four page form with carbon paper.

Oh the cruel irony – we know they never respond to any communication that doesn’t involve the size of their bonus cheques, so what do you think the chances of me receiving anything back other than letterbox inadequacy? The form is pretty funny though, I’ll fill you in when I fill it in. Makes you think doesn’t it? Email travels at 30,000 miles per hour yet Chiltern Railway’s administration barely matches the speed of their trains. It’d be quicker to transcribe it on a stone tablet and dispatch it by camel.

I’m feeling increasingly impotent and while the blog is therapy of sorts, I need some kind of commuting Viagra. A man on the inside, a hotline to someone who cares, a targeted thermonuclear strike, that kind of thing.