Tuesday, January 17, 2006


My train into work was twenty minutes late. Sadly, this isn't the novelty it would have been under British Rail (isn't it an awful indictment of the private rail companies that we see the shoddy services provided by British Rail as some sort of Golden Age?) It was already over ten minutes late when it arrived at my station but then we stayed there while the guard attended to a lady passenger who'd had a panic attack as a result of the severe overcrowding in the carriage.

It's a reflection on Tony Blair's "Respect" agenda that rail passengers are subject to conditions that contravene EC regulations on the movement of farm animals. And the farm animals don't have to stump up a week's salary for the ticket to ride.

Sunday, January 15, 2006


Insomnia's a damned nuisance. Too tired to read or do anything remotely useful, I end up resorting to slobbing out in front of the TV. Have you any idea what sort of rubbish there is on the TV in the wee small hours? It makes daytime TV look like Glyndebourne. Every so often I'm lucky enough to get a decent movie. More often than not I'm channel-hopping between documentaries, infomercials and odd bits of cheap tat. Being dead cheap myself, I've got cable but won't buy the extras. So when it comes to the sport channels I'm strictly low rent, just getting the sports that were left over when the money ran out. Curling, biathalon, rhythmic gymnastics... that sort of thing.

Then once in a while you bump into something that makes it all worthwhile...

Solo synchronised swimming. Live from Austria.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

The dangers of living alone

People who think too much shouldn't be allowed to live on their own. They really need somebody around to ask the important question: "Aren't you thinking a bit too hard about this?" Especially when you find yourself spending an hour worrying about Korky the Cat. It started when it dawned on me that Korky trolls about Dandytown all day stark naked and then he puts on pyjamas to go to bed. Then I got to worrying about the state of the local economy when shopkeepers trust the delivery of the produce to the first passing cat with a go kart.

Last summer I started to fret about the satisfaction I was taking at my attempts at the wholesale destruction of slugs and snails in the garden. Was it really right? My conscience started to nag. So far so good. But then I got to thinking about it. If you think back to those monster movies in the fifties where they kill the monster at the end, you'll remember that about half of them it turns out that the monster was a misunderstood emissary of hope. "They came to help mankind and we killed them." Perhaps that was it: perhaps they were trying to tell me something. One night I spotted a snail climbing up the outside of the living room window. Without even thinking about it, I found myself perched on the window ledge trying to read its lips.

Thursday, January 05, 2006


It's strange to think that the best you can hope for your friends and relatives is that they'll eventually get to be old people.

If I survive so long, I've promised myself:

  • I won't start queueing up for my pension outside the post office an hour before it opens. What is this about? I'm paying taxes to fund winter fuel payments for people who stand outside in the cold for no apparent reason.


  • I won't go shopping in Marks & Spencer on a Friday lunchtime. They've got all week to do their shopping; why wait until Friday lunchtime? I blame the cynical bastards who are obviously running the charabancs that take them there. You can't kid me that all those pensioners turn up simultaneously by accident.

Standing at the bus stop trying to check the time of the next bus I was distracted by one of the old ladies sitting on the bench. She kept bobbing from side to side to see past me. I glanced round to try and work out what she was trying to see. Just a row of shops. She tutted. I was obviously stopping her keeping tabs of some important narrative or other. I got irritated and decided to spoil the ending for her: "The butler did it, love." She scowled.

Taking my turn in the queue, I rehearsed all the usual thoughts. The bubble was suddenly burst when another of the old ladies offered me her seat.