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.


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. 

Shocking Ommission

The Downton Abbey scriptwriter hard at it

Another unpublished letter to the Telegraph, 

Dear Sir,

My usual morning equilibrium was rocked today as I travelled on the 06:00hrs from Haslemere, when I discovered whilst passing through Woking that excepting a fleeting reference relating to a photograph on page 8, the usual fawning and sycophantic daily piece about Downton Abbey was absent from the paper. This shocking omission left me with nothing to complain about on arrival at Waterloo but has left me feeling oddly uplifted and optimistic about the rest of my day.

Yours faithfully,
— Mental Crumble

Give Them An Inch



A contribution from fellow long suffering communter Dirk is long overdue; heres the first of a number that are backed up: 

There are an infinite number of ways to get my goat these days, and two of my most excitable ones were so peeved by what I witnessed today that they broke free of the leash and leapt the fence separating the two station car-parks.  

To the bald man with the Musto back-pack who parked his white Volvo behind me this morning at the station…shame on you.  It was the flash of gobby whiteness in my peripheral vision that first caught my attention and I was quietly fuming at this in my wing-mirror when I witnessed him hold open the door, have a quick check around to see if anybody was looking and then reach inside and pull out an empty can of coke, some crisp packets and random packaging.  All this he chucked out onto the tarmac before kicking the whole lot under his car.  I have no doubt that this is a regular occurrence, this is how people like him clean their cars and since I already had reason to hate him I decided to prove that I’d clocked his behaviour by giving a hoot on my horn.  

His furtiveness betrayed the fact that he did at least realise that what he was doing was antisocial so It was hardly a confrontation and several leagues short of making a citizen’s arrest but I did at least provoke a staring contest which I subsequently won,  for as he rounded the back of the car still scowling at me he clipped his knee quite sharply on the bumper.  As Louis L’Amour was wont to say, “Victory is won not in miles but in inches”.   

He gave me that inch and I took a mile.      

Start the Week With Dirk


After a pause of some weeks, Dirk is back with a double helping from his "diary of an ordinary commuter." There's nothing ordinary about our hero I can tell you, he carries the standard for us all and dares to articulate all those dark thoughts that even the most Christian minded of us occasionally harbour against our fellow man.... or women.



"I think we're all a bit stressed at the moment and it wouldn't take much to nudge us over the edge.

Back in the calm of an office I can see why physical assault induced by the loud eating of crisps may not have stood up in court. I have nothing against crisps but would refrain from eating them on a train after dark, partly in consideration to other passengers and partly because I find myself very conscientious re the noise. I'd like to think the girl behind me was trying to be polite too but in carefully taking out each one in turn she merely prolonged the torture. 

 Giving each one a preliminary suck reduced the crunch, (I applaud that), and then it was back in for another rummaging cranckle. Polishing off the final one with a quick slick to each finger I thought that was the end of that but after a brief intermission she delved into her cavernous bag and started on a second packet. Why this should have such an effect on my blood pressure is a worry. This was not the Royal Opera House, this was not even the Remembrance Day 2 minutes silence and nor were we the Famous 5 crouched in hiding from the smugglers on Billycock Hill so why should it matter?  This was merely a train with several dozing passengers, but when the only other sound is snoring there's nothing so irritatingly intrusive as a writhing crisp packet.  

It could be that I am in need of therapy but my suggestion is to sell them in plastic bags, preferably soggy, or better still get it over with quickly and simply enjoy a potato


With several weeks of remission I was just wondering what had happened to Tourette's woman and then there it was in the background, that unmistakeable glottal stop feature which to the uninitiated is merely part and parcel of winter commuting with a carriage-full of assorted colds.

To the more experienced there's a world of difference, and just as a dedicated bird enthusiast can distinguish between the call of a swift and a swallow,(almost an accidental pun there),so I can tell the difference between a tickly cough and a permanent affliction designed to drive us all mad. This would be the inoffensive-looking lady with the velvet Alice-band, the sort you'd find yourself luring in towards the vacant seat if only as a trade-off versus a potentially-worse travel-mate.

It's not until she's fully settled that the vocal tic makes itself known and she doesn't know it but she gets my pulse racing for all the wrong reasons. If she takes to eating crisps I shall be driven over the edge into enacting my own version of Tourettes in its most coprolalic form.

It takes one to know one, and perhaps she'd understand if I blurted out a stream of invective. To avoid a scene maybe I'll just add headphones to my Christmas list."


Know Your Place


Time for another report from our old chum Randolph as he describes another chapter in the daily commuting grind,

"There's a new man on the platform for whom I've developed an unreasonable degree of resentment. 

I long ago decided that commuting on a daily basis was perfectly bearable once a certain rhythm was established, but to covet any particular type of seat was a slippery slope into nerdism.  Besides, a slouch to the same side on a regular basis can't be good for the spine.  It's better to mix it up a bit, convince yourself that sitting backwards is perfectly fine, steer clear of the loos and it matters little where you end up and pity those who don't actually have a choice of seats at all. 

With all this karma in mind why is it then that I object so much to this young blade who insists on being the one to hit the yellow button?. There you'll be, 15 yrs of experience to tell you where the doors will come to a halt and he springs in from stage left like Billy Goat Gruff (he lurks in the lee of the pedestrian bridge).  He's been known to stand aside to let a woman board but he's already ahead of her when it comes to the seats.  There's an almost audible sigh as he stakes his claim, movements now in slow motion since the battle's won for another day.  Did I imagine it or was he looking round for approbation? 

Anyway, no room for smugness later for it was only as he made to get up at London Bridge that he discovered he'd made the schoolboy error of failing to spot the chewing gum.  Rather fresh too, made malleable from 45 minutes of pressurised warmth and creating significant drag on his coat which he then had to remove while he made good.  A small moment to treasure and a rare high-five to the schoolboy."

A Rare Butterfly


Time once again for some input from our old friend and long suffering commuter Dirk over in Kent,

"Like a rare butterfly the blonde alighted on the seat next to me launching a heady waft of scent.  There are precious few of these on my line and I didn't dare move a muscle for they're easily startled.  An exploratory swivel to the right would have allowed me full appraisal but in circumstances such as this it's important not to register any acknowledgement at all.  Like the person standing behind in the queue for the ATM I was aware of her presence but she was invisible to me, and I'd not have picked her out in an ID parade had she sported three heads.

I sat there ostensibly concentrating on my newspaper, getting giddy from the strain of trying to clock what she looked like out of the corner of my eye.  A yellow curtain of hair concealed the facial details (just the one head), gloves were no giveaway (gloves?), leg was robustly-trousered, shoe was not exactly petite...but never mind, this was a welcome improvement on the usual travelling ghoul. 

Much later, awaking from the customary doze and hoping that I hadn't been snoring in an unattractive slack-jawed fashion I was delighted to find she was still there.  The time was fast-approaching when it was time to leave the train and all would be revealed.  Like that interesting parcel under the Christmas tree that turns out to be a box of Hoover-bags I was to be equally disappointed.  This was no young thing, not even a Paris Hilton or a Susan Hampshire.  I'd have settled for Vanessa Feltz but instead this was Iggy Pop, or perhaps Rick Wakeman. 

Let's hope we didn't sleep together."