Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Things to do number eight

I missed my train home because I was stranded for five minutes trying to cross a not-particularly busy road. The problem? Every time a gap appeared some muffin would cut me off as they turned in from one or other of two feeder roads. Each time was a near thing because surprise, surprise, not one of them used their indicators to say where they were going.

Especially not the pillock who turned his car left then suddenly reeled it into a right turn. I remember reading about Himmelman Turns in my old Biggles books but I never expected to see one done in a Volvo. Luckily the weather's a bit grim so there was no chance of his diving in on me out of the sun.

When my times comes my response will be quick and efficient. I shall use the brass handle of my malacca cane to smash their indicators as they pass by.

"Your indicator's not working mate!"

I shall cry. Actually, it would be a pretty nifty superpower to be able to zap the indicators and blow the car's whole electrics...

Saturday, June 21, 2008


The other day Friends of the Earth, who must have something better to do, staged a protest in Manchester to complain that full-sized, non-folding bicycles aren't allowed on the trams. "It is ridiculous that bicycles aren't allowed on the trams," said a spokesperson.

It's also ridiculous that cars, lorries and large steam traction engines aren't allowed on the trams. What are they thinking?

If you're going on a cycling tour of the Peak District or the seaside or something then you'll want to be able to take your bike on the train to get to the place you're going to explore. I've no problem with that and I'm happy to support moves to insist on bike space on trains.

But trams? Oh come on now... we're talking about journeys of half a dozen miles or less. Assuming there's room, of course: most mornings it's a struggle for a body to get on at all. If you're taking a bike on a six-mile tram journey into town you might as well cycle the whole way. What's the point of taking a bike onto a tram just to cycle the last hundred yards or so to work? Or else get off the tram and use Shanks' Pony to finish your journey like the rest of us.

What's the carbon footprint of a bicycle's being used as a handbag on public transport?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Things to do (number seven)

This guy's got the right idea: The Customer Is Not Always Right

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Things to do (number five six in an ongoing series)

Back in the old days, dustbinmen had a pretty horrible lot: out in all weathers, dragging big metal dustbins out of people's back yards and manually tipping them into the back of the lorry. These days it's still not a bundle of laughs but with wheelie bins and automated loading vans there's less wear and tear on the dustbinmen. So this should be a golden age of emptying-the-bins servuce delivery, right?


For some reason that I can't fathom, the refuse collection service has become the touchstone of all that is worst in English public sector service delivery, with every prodnose and jobsworth having a ball at the expense of the paying public.

I have a row once a month with my local council, which is how often I put my bin out for collection (single person household, and if I weren't addicted to crisps I reckon it would be once a quarter). By a row I mean that I complain and they ignore me; and yes, I do know the performance indicator targets for customer complaints even if they don't. The problem arises in that they won't empty any bins that aren't "on the edge of the property." Their usual interpretation of "edge of the property" is littering the pavement and making pedestrians, pushchair users and wheelchair users go out into the middle of the road to get by (kerbs and kerbsides being littered by parked cars). Officially, the council tells me that I should push the wheelie bin against the gate and climb over the garden wall to get to work (I wish I were making this up; I didn't have any refuse collections for two months one time when the council decided to dig grave-sized holes next to the front gates of every house down the road).

Elsewhere, a chap in his nineties is told that he won't have his bin emptied because he accidentally put the wrong type of rubbish in it. The bin's bigger than he is, so you can imagine how easy it would be for him to recify his error.

People in rural areas are required to wheel their bins down leafy lanes to the nearest main roads. "We can't spend time going down each and every lane," say council spokespeople. I'll bet the bailiffs would manage the journey to ask for the poll tax to be paid.

Some people have been prosecuted and convicted -- prosecuted and convicted -- for having put their wheelie bins out the night before when they should have been put out between 0700 and 0730. Others have criminal records for having left the lids of their bins slightly agape. In contrast, if you get pissed and kill a few kids with your motor car you get a few points on your licence.

Problem is, I can't think up a suitably appropriate come-uppance for the fuckwits and jackoffs involved. If the time ever came I suppose I'd resort to emptying a town's wheelie bins on the front lawn of the Chief Executive & Town Clerk.


My bathroom cabinet shocks me.

I'd gone up to get some Fiery Jack to try and sort out a back ache (how did that happen? I'm not even in a relationship) and for some reason I noticed just how full the cabinet is these days. Back when I started this household there wasn't much in there: a bottle of aspirins, a spare toothbrush, a box of plasters (just in case) and a sentimental bar of soap, of which we shall say no more than it's never been removed from its wrapper (I know the way some of you think). These days, it's jam-packed with old man's unguents, anti-histamines, tubular bandages and the like. Who needs nine eye baths? I don't even have nine eyes.

Most depressing of all is the unopened packet of three (still with the Utility mark) that came to the house with me.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Bitter irony

By one of those ironies beloved by authors, the day that the government announced that Greater Manchester will be getting the congestion charge -- to encourage people to use the excellent public transport -- all the trains in and out of Piccadilly were cancelled due to electrical faults.