Internet Irritation & Rail Rants

I was especially pleased with Mad, Bad, Axe and Wax being of course, a devoted student of the 3-Letter Kowtowsky-Liebstein Variant of the popular board game. 

I was especially pleased with Mad, Bad, Axe and Wax being of course, a devoted student of the 3-Letter Kowtowsky-Liebstein Variant of the popular board game. 

I fear I was alone in the family for the ten days over the holidays during which we had a complete internet outage in finding it somewhat liberating. No one seemed to share my sense of emancipation from digital shackles which was something of a shame really. My aspiration for special family bonding time, 'just like the power cuts when I was a boy,' met with fixed stares and the words 'fix it Dad,' and the heartening uplift in family games only led to sequential heavy defeats across the board-game spectrum ranging from Scrabble, Monopoly, Bastard Boggle and most disappointingly Backgammon, (incidentally, if someone ever suggests you play a game called Cards Against Humanity then run hard, run fast and don't look back).

Notwithstanding the 'Internet Incident of 2017,' as it will no doubt be remembered, what started as a slow momentum festive season seemed to reach something of a transitional pivot point round about the 22nd from when things seemed to go into top gear and stayed that way until last week. It was a runaway train I was happy to jump off. Sometimes, you really can have too much fun. So, into the cold and sober month of January when the taps are turned off. I'll probably crack on again for another couple of months this year after January - there is no way I'm turning up to watch a commissioning parade looking like a tub of lard. So, three months of goodness and virtue, water and green tea. How difficult really, can it be?


Most of the country didn't bother turning up to work last week and in fact this is the first full week for most businesses. I was then, slightly surprised when, arriving at Petersfield Station yesterday, there was no sign of my friends motor car, (he almost always is parked in the very first spot). I pinged a text to him to enquire if he was on holiday. He replied that he was not.... but I had evidently lit a fuse. He went on to text...


That's because after a year of faithful train commuting for the princely sum if £12k including car park, petrol, season ticket and before the odd taxi and cost of renting films to watch on the journey I have gone back to biking in as I have a space under the building to park for free and leave my kit on the bike This works in winter as London is completely devoid of hooray Henrys and ex pat suicidal Italians on bald tyred Vespa's as they only come out in summer and there are a huge amount less of crack-pot lycra-clad cyclists who seem on an endless mission to end their own lives prematurely by jumping red lights and undertaking lorries in the blind spots etc

Moreover, no 3 days go by without disruption since SWR took over 3 months ago and the system to refund the days when you are delayed has been designed by the direct decendants of the enigma code encryption designers. Just check out their website.


You know it's not going to be good when a bloke uses more than three words in a text. Perhaps he was having a bad day. There are very few South Western commuters though, who will not empathise.





Right Way To Waterloo

Bemused passengers on the 05:19hrs Portsmouth Harbour to Waterloo train this morning were surprised when told by the train guard to move to the right hand side of the train between Haslemere and Guildford where the train was taken out of service due to a failure of it's Ballast Management System.

'Most passengers don't realise that our new Siemans built trains have a ballast management system which stabilises the train carriages when going round bends,' said Tony Cocking, Chief Engineer for South West Trains. 'Ships use water for ballast management but we use a low viscosity oil.  A series of barrier valves failed which meant the oil was unable to flow freely from side to side requiring all passengers to sit and stand on the port side of the train to maintain stability at reduced speed until the train safely reached Guildford. All Portsmouth bound trains were halted at Woking but only for a short time.'

Another spokesman for South West Trains thanked passengers for their cooperation and apologised for any inconvenience incurred. Most passengers took the incident in their stride with Bill McDuff, a regular Haslemere commuter commenting, 'It's all a bit of a laugh really, surely it must have been an April Fool?'


Selfish Twat

I was in quite a good mood yesterday when I got off the train at Petersfield. That lasted right up until I saw that some inconsiderate clown had parked illegally and blocked me in. If he does that again his vehicle will be removed by the rear end of two and a half tons of Solihull’s finest engineering. Selfish twat.

So, owner of white piece of Japanese rubbish VRN GU14 BXK, and the muppet who parked the blue Merc VRN LG05 FPL behind you, in the words of Billy Connolly, "To the guy who stole ma' bike outside the Carlton Cinema in 1963, you'll get yours ya bassa."


Commuter Hell

Service as usual at Waterloo last night

Well, I waited for an hour and a quarter before chucking the towel in. I repaired to the Club and treated myself to a dozen oysters and a glass of Chablis as a respite treat from Commuter Hell. I returned at 9pm when trains were at least running, albeit somewhat late. How many of the people in that picture, when they left school with exciting hopes dreams and aspirations, ever thought they would expend a significant part of their lives in cumulative time spent waiting on Waterloo Station concourse? How many toddlers missed their bedtime stories? How many “dinner is in the dog” moments, anniversaries missed, school parents meetings, school plays……….? Quite sad really.


Pick Me!

My new ruse for making the commute more bearable has been to listen to old Desert Island Discs downloaded from the BBC iplayer thing. They have been enchanting. Like most listeners I often play the "what would I choose" game but I find it impossible to drill down to just 8 records and as for the chosen luxury......... where's a fellow to start?

.I especially enjoyed Fred Dibnah (1991) but Jimmy Edwards (1952), Dickie Bird (1996), Hugo Gryn (1994) and Kenny Everett (1993) all had golden moments. Amongst others Louis Armstrong (1968), Field Marshal Montgomery (1969), David Niven (1977), the funniest Englishman ever born, Willie Rushton (1984) and another favourite, Douglas Reeman (1983) were all good value.

The all time winner though is the 16 mins only left of the recording of Col AD Wintle in 1962. This is the man who, decorated for bravery in the Great War described the inter war years as being “intensely boring,”  ("Great War peace signed at last." diary, 19 June 1919 / "I declare private war on Germany." diary, 20 June 1919).  Imprisoned in the Tower of London for threatening an RAF Air Commodore in France in 1940 ,who strangely would not accede to his demand for an aircraft to “rally the French Air Force,” he then admitted to the act at his court martial and helpfully produced a list of other people who he would have cheerfully shot to help the war effort including the secretary of state for war. His hunger strike when later a prisoner of war in protest at “the slovenly appearance of the guards,” and other displays to maintain English standards led to the entire Vichy French garrison going over to the resistance according to the then commandant.

My favourite line of his is this, spoken when standing unsuccessfully for Parliament, "Guy Fawkes was the last man to enter Parliament with good intentions. You need another like me to carry on his good work."

Bloody South West Bloody Trains

05:57 at Petersfield station. Unfortunately, the thing missing in this picture is the 05:57 train which again failed to show. The 06:29 did though and boy did it tear through the station at a lick.

Shame it didn’t stop, that really would have been something of a help. Of course, as all commuters know, these bxstard train operators game the system by cancelling trains which are likely to be late so they don’t incur late arrival penalties. I genuinely hate the government for letting those mendacious thieves get away with it. 

Starving Baboons on South West Trains

Now, I have no idea who this chap is. He must though be a man of fortitude and self reliance for given the way he was gorging on that giant burrito thing, and gurgling from his water bottle like a dehydrated water buffalo, on the 19:30hrs to Portsmouth last night, I have to think that he had just returned from 2 years in the Serengeti or 6 months up the Limpopo without a paddle or bag of chips to his name. Oblivious to all around why wouldn't you buy the messiest, smelliest food available and then proceed to eat it in the close confines of a railway carriage like a starving baboon? He did and to keep him company the girl in front was wading her way through  some Asian creation just opposite the American girl who was yapping away on her telephone while glugging her bottle of red wine (large). 

The thing is, individuals can mostly do what they please in the confines and privacy of their own homes. Why though, can't they wait on returning home to make their call or wolf down some street food?

Given they display zero consideration for their fellow commuters we need to change the rules, or in fact impose some rules. Travellers should be made to sit a test in front of a board of senior commuters to ratify that they are fit and proper citizens before being allowed to acquire a season ticket. They'll be questioned on platform etiquette, enquiries to the guard etiquette, attitudes to adopt in moments of severe disruption and delays, allowable snacks and refreshments, courtesy to fellow travellers (including use of electronic devices and allowable films), and correct use and storage of umbrellas.

Outrage, disappointment and defeated resignation

Disaster on the 05:57hrs from Petersfield this morning as outrage, disappointment and defeated resignation rippled through the ten carriage train as the early wave of City bound commuters learned from Pat, OC the Tea Trolley, that, “sorry, no teabags; they forgot to load the teabags.” There is nothing guaranteed to more upset the dutiful equilibrium of the early morning commuter than no tea on the tea trolley. No tea trolley at all would be better than watching the approach of the trolley with quiet satisfaction, knowing that a hot brew is moments away, only to be thwarted by sloppy loading at the depot. This is the sort of lost nail that can lead to the loss of a pretty important horse.  Were markets to crash later today, the cause may not be the US GDP or the FOMC statement falling short of market expectations but rather the lingering sense of disbelief and hopelessness of the CIO’s, fund managers and traders on the 05:57hrs from Petersfield.

Train Goes Walkabout

Class 170/3 set of the type used by South West Trains on the Salisbury to Waterloo line

In a worrying incident this morning, several hundred passengers on the 06:45 commuter train from Salisbury to London have become stranded in Matlock, Derbyshire; some 150 miles from their intended destination. In what Network Rail managers called, a rail traffic control nightmare,€ the South West Trains service was redirected several times following an electrical fault which delayed the train at Basingstoke.

Mr Roy Parrish, Director of Services for Network Rail said,  "The train experienced electrical issues at Basingstoke and was moved temporarily onto another line to keep the main line clear. When the fault was cleared it was unfortunately not possible to move the service back because of other services using the main London line."€ He went on to explain that once on the Reading line it was easier to divert ahead via Reading but due to confusion there, the service was misdirected to Oxford by which time it had been inadvertently labelled in the Network Control Centre as a train destined for Birmingham New Street. Mr Parrish continued, "immediately the error was spotted, a decision was taken to bypass Birmingham and route the service up the Sheffield line from where is would continue to Doncaster and join the high speed East Coast line back south to London. The train though, broke down en route to Sheffield several miles outside Matlock."

€Although it sounds like a comedy of errors,€ a harassed Mr Parrish explained, "€œit really is just an unfortunate sequence of events. I want to emphasise that passenger safety has not been compromised and everything that can be done is being done to get these people to their destination."€

Matlock Station

Passengers on the train however, vented their anger and irritation to news desks by mobile telephone. Mrs Margaret Evans-Pritchard (67), a retired teacher from Shipton Bellinger was an exception and said in a telephone interview, "it's all been rather fun really, a sort of mystery tour and the Peak District is so pretty at this time of year." However, a Mr Francis Dart, (45), an insurance broker from Salisbury, summed up the prevailing dark mood on the train when he said, "it's utterly absurd. What should be a one and a half hour journey has taken all day going in the opposite direction and now we'€™re stuck in the middle of nowhere with only one loo between us. Just sums this country up."

Investigators from the Rail Accident Investigation Branch are said to be not involved given no incident€ has actually taken place but, they €œmay take an interest to see if lessons can be learned, an unnamed spokesman said. 

South West Trains said they were confident of getting all the passengers to their ultimate destinations in time for work tomorrow.

Much Missed

Much missed

Attempting to figure out the short term ebb and flow of stock markets is, at the moment, every bit as challenging as trying to figure out what my tormentors at South West Trains are going to spring on me next. Arriving at Waterloo last night somewhat later than usual I was taken aback to discover that my journey home was to terminate at Guildford, some 22 miles short of my destination but the offer of rolling through the Surrey countryside at midnight in a double decker bus was obviously an experience I just couldn’t live without. Just to pile pain on misery I arrived at the station at ten to six this morning to find that the little station paper seller on the platform, which has been there as long as the station has, has abruptly had its lease terminated by South West Trains at a few days notice in favour of “redevelopment,” and that’s permanently buggered up my morning routine on a go forward basis. They are an absolute shower the lot of them and I look forward with unrestrained enthusiasm to the day that I can terminate them.