Personal and undiluted views

1703 days ago

A nervous traveller to Kalamata caught between Scylla and Charybdis at Gatwick Airport

I have two great fears when travelling. The first is that I will miss my train or plane. This is hereditary. My grandmother Lesbia Winnifrith never missed a train in her life apart from once when she arrived so early that she caught the previous one in error. I like to travel with plenty of room for error. 


2915 days ago

The Chinese signs at Moreton-in-Marsh Train Station

Saturday night in Shipston with my father and step mother entails a trip to Moreton-in-Marsh train station. It is a non-descript station in a pretty little Cotswold town. I have happy memories of arriving there around this time last year with snow so deep that there was no way to get to Shipston. Thankfully there was room at the (Bell) Inn and a landlord prepared to wait up for my delayed train.

This time there were no such snags but, since he could not be late for Church, my father dropped me off thirty minutes before the departure of the 10.11 to Oxford. All rooms at the station were locked so it was a chilly half an hour. The only thing of note at this station is that the signs for taxis, buses, toilets etc are in both English and a language which is, I think, Chinese but may be Japanese.

This seems harmless enough but I wonder of any local person might explain to me why there is such a pressing need for signs in Chinese or Japanese or whatever it is? Is there a big hidden demographic I have missed or something about the local economy of which I am utterly ignorant? I see the signs as a harmless eccentric and am just curious to know the reasoning behind them. 


2941 days ago

First Great Western: Can we have no slurping your coffee like a Warthog carriages?

The man on the other side of the aisle on the 4.47 AM from Bristol is drinking a cup of coffee. I lie, he is not drinking, but slurping it down very loudly and in excruciatingly painful small slurps. This torture has lasted from a few minutes before Didcot almost through to Reading. I imagine that an ill-mannered warthog drinking a Great First Western latte would sound similar. I find it very annoying.

We have special “quiet carriages” on this train and there is also an entertainment carriage. Could First Great Western perhaps introduce a couple of “No slurping your drinks like a warthog” carriages? I would be truly grateful.


2943 days ago

The Man slumbering outside Temple Meads at 4.30 AM – my hard call for today

The cab from V-cars was early and the streets were empty and so I found myself outside Bristol Temple Meads at 4.25 this morning with 22 minutes to kill before the departure of my train.  As the other passengers scuttled in I delayed. Once on the train I have no excuse not to sub Zak Mir’s book and so standing awkwardly in the cold seemed a rather attractive idea.

The only chap not to scuttle in slumped and snored on one of those ice cold, terribly uncomfortable metals benches, with lots of little holes designed to leave bumps on your bottom, that Network rail is so keen on. He looked a tad rough and was taller than me and rather muscular but he was wearing a suit of sorts. 

On that basis I though he was more likely to be a passenger than a drunk old tramp and so wondered if I should wake him. If I do nothing he might miss his train. He can’t blame me but I know it will piss him off. If there is one thing worse than getting up at 4 AM to catch a train, it is getting up at 4 AM to catch a train and then missing it. But what if he turned out to be a violent drunk who lashed out? The British way is, I suspect, to show polite indifference and walk on.

Hmm, I could always walk on and sub Zak’s book. If he did beat me up and hospitalise me that would be a three day excuse for not subbing Zak’s book. That thought swung it for me. It was a win win.

And so I shook him gently. He snored on. And then a bit more aggressively stating “first train mate”. He awoke. He was indeed thoroughly pissed but seemed grateful as he wheeled in circles, tottering towards the Station.

A good deed to start the day…and now to Zak’s book. Aaaaaaagh


2955 days ago

The Bitch with the baby on the train is NOT “one of the vulnerable”

I am bashed by a reader for standing up to the bitch with the baby on the Bristol Train in Sunday in refusing to give up my seat for her top of the range fucking buggy. Apparently I am picking on someone who is “vulnerable.” Bollocks. 

Someone who lives in a big house in Bristol who can afford not only to have a baby but to buy a top of the range fucking buggy is not vulnerable. Someone who can afford to take baby & buggy up to London for a spot of Christmas shopping is not vulnerable. Yes this woman has a baby but that is her choice. It is not my choice but my obligation to pay taxes to give this pampered cow child benefit but I just have to do it.

The point is that this woman and her partner have wealth and income (as she told the whole damn train). She has choices in life. So just because he has opted to pass her bossy and selfish genes onto the next generation that does not make her vulnerable.

Those who are vulnerable are folks who cannot afford housing at all. Those, such as immigrants, made ever less welcome and more marginalised in British Society. Those who are diseased or dying. Those who have just lost their jobs and are seeking new work not welfare dependency. Those who work long hours for low wages and yet have the taxman claw too much of that back to subside women like the bitch with the baby via child benefit. 

Those who are vulnerable include


2957 days ago

I’ve got a baby so I can be a total bitch on the Train

The trains to Bristol is jam packed. I am perched on one of those pop up seats nominally for disabled folks but in fact designed for anorexic eight year olds. I am surrounded by folks standing in the aisles and with luggage all around me.  Some bitch with a baby has just got on, forcing her way through. Can you move please as I have a baby? She demanded of me. She is a bitch who is used to getting her way.

Some chap gave her a seat and perched his charming little daughter on his knee. But the bitch persisted. This space (i.e. where I am sitting) is for wheelchairs and buggies she insisted. Actually the sign says it is for wheelchairs, there is no mention of buggies. But heck the bitch has a baby so let’s not bother with the finer details.

I say that I will move some other folk’s luggage. “I don’t want you doing that she insisted – I want YOU to move”. So I must give up my seat for her fucking buggy (empty). I refused. After a 120 hour week I am confident that I feel more tired that her fucking top of the range fucking buggy.

I move some folk’s luggage and am now crammed in surrounded by a top of the range fucking buggy and everyone’s luggage. The bitch with a baby persisted:


2997 days ago

The Joys of the 4.47 AM from Bristol

The Mrs hates me catching this train as she is woken up by my alarm clock at 4 am. I understand her point and so only take it now and again as a treat, when I have to be in London early. But it is a treat. It is the last train before 9.30 which does not cost a second mortgage to catch, but it is the best train of the day.

The cab speeds through a deserted City in minutes. There is no traffic, no jams which serve simply to annoy. A quick fag and I climb aboard a deserted train. There is just one other person in coach D 


3049 days ago

The Drunks on the train

Thanks to Darren I managed to get away early and so avoided the 11.35 drunks express from Paddington. On the 10.15 I thought that I could sleep soundly, manage a new high score on word mole and attend to other matters. What I forgot was that by the time we arrived at Swindon it was 11 PM and that made this the drunks express for those leaving the town that gave us Melinda Messenger.

Hence, at 11, about 15 lads joined our carriage. I say lads, but a couple were older than me and within a few minutes as they shouted loudly in broad West Country accents it was clear that the collective IQ of the 15 was barely into four figures. 

To keep themselves entertained they started playing a game “the gauntlet” which seems to involved 14 of them kneeling on their seats looking backwards while the 15th had to run past them. Those kneeling simply had to either hit the runner as hard as possible or to try to rip his underpants down by sticking their hands down his trousers. At the same time they has to shout abuse at the runner. The three most popular shouts were “you gay cunt”, you “fucking lesbian” or “you Leon Britton.” Or was that “you Leon Brittan.”  Was it a reference to the Swansea midfielder or the former home secretary about whom so many interesting rumours circulate. I did not feel like asking about this cultural metaphor.

However, the irony of a bunch of men shouting homophobic abuse while try to stick their hands down each other’s trousers was not lost on myself or the small group of fellow passengers. 

Occasionally the insults got too much and in our short 45 minutes together we enjoyed two real fights where a couple of the drunks beat the crap out of each other. Apparently this all harked back to a row about a pair of sunglasses lost at Butlins. Whatever. 

My back was turned to this spectacle but – like my fellow passengers – I could not help but watch. I felt rather like a Victorian paying to go and watch lunatics humiliate themselves at the asylum, but – feeling a little guilty – I watched anyway.  The late night trains to Bristol are a true gin alley


3221 days ago

First Great Western can afford to be useless

The train up to London is overcrowded. Even as we approach Reading there are folks who have been standing all the way from Bristol. We left there on time. We are now 40 minutes late. We have been sitting outside Reading for 15 minutes “waiting to be signalled in.” The train “manager” apologies over the loud speaker now and again but she took sincerity lessons from Tony Blair.

Of course there has been no hint of compensation when we arrive an hour late into Paddington (although I gather that we can claim compensation although I bet it is a real waste of time). There is no suggestion of a free coffee next time we travel on this monopoly service. It is a monopoly and so I shall use this company that I loathe with a passion once again.

It is suggested by a fellow passenger that this is a result of privitization. Saints preserve me. About the only thing that can be said in favour of First Great Western is that it looks like a gold standard customer service provider when compared to British Rail. I just wish that it might treat its customers with a bit less of the open contempt that a monopoly provider can afford to show.


3396 days ago

‘Elf n’ Safey on First Great Western

I could not hold out. The dulcet tones of Steve “the customer host” lured me to wander along to the “customer service (food and beverage) interaction zone”, formerly known as the buffet bar. Okay, I made that last renaming up but I am sure that if I drop it into a suggestion box, First Great Western will take it seriously.
One latte please.

That will be £2.30 sir. Mein host was a smooth and pleasant. Wish I could say the same about the faux-latte.

“No need to put it in a bag” I said because I am, as you know, a bit of an eco-warrior.