“We’ve lost a carriage!”

LOST? How can you lose something 80 foot long full crammed full of noisy humans? I mean it was only standard class but even so, derailing the entire lot of ’em (or “ballast” as I believe the airline industry terms the poor buggers slammed into the cheap seats) seems to some way beyond a bit careless.

I have been re-introduced to what I believed was the lost art of shunting earlier (for those in London, this has absolutely nothing to do with attempting to remove a hamster from behind a gerbil, cunningly inserted in a bodily orifice) as we downsized the train for reasons lost in the feedback of the PA system. The delay was pretty epic but since I’d already been abandoned for 45 minutes in the pissing rain, at least I was merely irritated rather than partially drowned.

On finally arriving in London, my insertion into the late rush hour tunnel rats was met with a piece of marketing so breathtakingly deceitful, I found myself in grudging admiration at the chutzpah. It alleged the Circle line had “been improved for all passengers” which sounds good until you examine the facts swirling below the spin.

Because all the self congratulatory signage could have been simply replaced by “The circle line is no longer a circle, it’s more of an aspirational arc”. No longer can one travel from Paddington to Farringdon in spherical motion unless you’re desperate to change at Edgeware Road. A station just one stop from mine and clearly of not enough interest for any tube train to actually terminate there in my lifetime.

Slightly pissed off but unsurprised, I schlepped a mile on the lonely road of a windswept platform before being deposited at the Hammersmith and City line complete with funky new electronic information boards. Heading West it told me a train would be along in nine minutes which was somewhat superseded by the physical manistification of said tube turning up 30 seconds later. Not so much luck heading the other way with the cheerful LCD announcing “more information soon“.

Not soon enough, after five more minutes I’ll never get back, I engaged the only reliable form of transport – Shank’s Pony – and strode back past the train I’d left some twenty minutes earlier in a quest to find some transport that might take me to work. This proved to be down about a thousand slippy steps – lift broken for about the past epoch if the fading and careworn sign was any judge – finally transporting me to a destination for which I’d left some five and a half hours before.

On the way home, things went well up to the point where Edgeware road inserted itself unhappily into my travel plans. For a while anyway, certainly enough time for me to miss my train by a good twenty seconds. There is really no other feeling quite like running up a platform as the train ruthlessly steams out of the station. I particularly enjoyed the passengers waving and grinning as they flashed past.

So today I’ve been abandoned, randomly shunted, delayed and sent in every decreasing circles by smug signage and lies to the power of marketing. A Brit like myself can only be pushed so far so – in a moment of vibrating fury – I decided to complain. In writing. The response from various bored looking officials can be summarised thus: “Go bark at the moon, it’ll be about as effective and save on stamps and administration

Instead I’ve decided to conduct my own survey which can be found below:

1. Was your train:
a) on time
b) a few minutes late
c) apologetically wheezing into the station some 45 minutes past the scheduled arrival time

2. If you answered a) or b), how was this delay communicated to you:
a) Frequent updates and apologies on both platform and train
b) Apologies when boarding the train
c) Staff apparently either asleep or laughing behind their hands.

3. Was the weather:
a) Balmy and dry
b) A tad damp
c) Biblical characterised by a man with a beard looking for some cheap wood and a second giraffe.

4. If the train was not on time, was it able to make some up on the journey:
a) Yes, arrived early to London
b) No, but it didn’t get any worse
c) Not even close, over an hour late most of which was spent resting at Worcester Shrub Hill

5. Now on the train, was quiet carriage:
a) Quiet
b) Occasionally interrupted by pointless and desperate pleadings to use the travelling chef
c) In a state of barely contained violence as two brummies debated the finer points of the Villa front 2.

6) Was the quality of the Chef on Board food:
a) Excellent. Like a five star restaurant
b) Adequate, it’s only a little kitchen after all
c) Non existent after the oven apparently exploded while tackling a difficult bacon sandwich.

7) Was the Tube Journey:
a) Seamless, efficient, clean, well signed and quick
b) Slightly less unpleasent that being shot from a canon
c) Entirely useless with only the outside chance that random electrocution might visit IPOD’d passengers to cheer me up.

8) And finally,how would you describe your journey today as:
a) Excellent. Why would anyone choose a different form of transport?
b) Average, better than driving I suppose
c) Unflinchingly sh!t and depressing.

If you answered mainly c), you are clearly travelling First Great Western and London Underground. Our focus groups suggest investing in a time share donkey or training to become a ultra runner. Both of these experiences are likely to be cheaper, quicker and significantly more pleasant than continuing with the delusion thatΒ£150 and four hours should be enough to get one man to London for 9am.

If you answered b), then your trip is on one of the UK’s franchises not currently massively in debt, or having an accident.

If you answered all a), you are in Switzerland.

I can’t believe I’m saying this but BRING BACK CHILTERN RAILWAYS. No really, and a fully licensed bar on the 05:52 from Ledbury.


I need to file and Health and Safety report from my trip this morning.

Location: Quiet Carriage located on a train travelling between Hereford and London
Time: 07:47

Situation: Two vacuous women of Black Country descent have spent the last 90 minutes variously discussing shoes, useless employees, how clever their children are, and are now debating the finer points of when it’s okay to lose your knickers in public.

Event: Kindly gent with upright aristocratic bearing seated opposite was riled beyond breaking point. Being English nothing more than raised eyebrows, almost imperceptible shaking of a well groomed head and the odd angry rustling of The Times had so far signalled his displeasure.

I think it was the knickers. A man of a certain age and standing probably has a genetic trigger that cannot be stayed when dippy women gush in not very hushed whispers, and indulge in verbal water torture. It’s been a while since I’ve seen someone mentally explode, so it’s worth reporting the full conversation.

Kindly Gent: “Madam, would you mind please keeping silent, as you have obviously failed to notice this is the quiet carriage. And you are not”
Vacuous Brummie: “Oooooh well it says Quiet, not silent and we’re speaking very quietly and I don’t think we’re disturbing anyone
(30 papers shake vigorously signalling the communal rustle of disagreement with that last statement)
KG: “Madam, you are. And you have been for over an hour”
VB: “Well I don’t know. You should have mentioned it earlier
KG: “I was hoping I wouldn’t have too”
(Beginners mistake here, those of us who live in the real world know that manners and politeness rarely break out on this train. That’s why I won’t sit in the cock’s carriage which does allow mobile phones and ego to ply their nefarious trade)
VB: “Well I suppose we can try and be a bit quieter”
KG: “Or you could move to another carriage where I’m sure others would enjoy your conversations as much as I haven’t
(not sure I got this quite right, but it was an rapier thin insult that punctured the air of the tense calm so far enveloping this conversation. Sharp intakes of breaths and supportive “Yes, Get in there” from the non-bloody-annoying side of the carriage)
VB: “Well there is no need to be insulting
(Oh I dunno, I think there is more than just cause but KG ignored the comment)
KG: “I hope I have got my point across, really your crass behaviour is totally unacceptable”

And then before the Midlands Super-Gob could respond or strike him down with her terrifying pointy handbag, he stood up, modestly acknowledged the almost silent – yet heartfelt – thanks from all of us, and de-trained* at Reading.

Leaving us with that kind of shocked silence that is gradually filled by people needing to examine some papers very closely and for a long time STARTING RIGHT NOW.

We’ve been here before. Thankfully it wasn’t me today. I was very, very tempted but had inadvertantly left the Heavy Shovel Of Righteousness at home. And obviously, if we’d been in America, someone would have been shot. Ying and Yang, struggling to see the downside of that one.

* Scorpion Pit Alert. Find the man who felt the urge to add this to the Train Manager’s script. Assume he’s the same bloke who talks about us being “re-platformed”. Dunno what this is, but sounds painful.

Not My World

NWM(hm)* encompasses that every increasing slice of life’s pie chart entitled “what the fuck?“. This vast swathe of nonsense starts at politicians, ends at people who confuse wealth with entitlement and pinpoints swaggery, arrogance, stupidity and downright lunacy at all points in between.

It’s quite a big slice. Give us representative examples I hear you ask. How long have you got I would reply except I have a real corker burning hot right here, right now. I’ve been extremely fortunate this year spending only a few days away from home thereby avoiding the cockmunchery of business class, business dinners and business hotels all wrapped in self importance and toe curling obsequiousness.

Last week that my world stopped while this started. One night in our dirty Capital starting out well with too many beers with too few old friends**, and ended meandering in a slightly inebriated peramble back to a new hotel shadowed by the magnificence of St. Pauls.

A nice man with a top hat and eastern European accent clearly felt I was in not state to operate a door and wafted me into reception. Where three more of a similar geographic landscape fell upon me and my luggage offering all sorts of services and smiles, somewhere in the middle of which might have been a room for the night.

Dignity is something I’ve long been separated from. And I have some history here both in a deficient self control gland and a hatred for contemporary hotels. But even with all that and headful of rubbish beer, I still delivered sufficient upright bearing to refuse assistance in carrying a very small bag and a very tired body up a single flight of stairs.

Nodding vigorously at the retention of my working class credentials, I dodged two more hotel-borg on the extended stroll to my room – the hotel being quite large and me failing to decipher the oh-so-arty hieroglyphics masquerading as room numbers. A lucky break and a repeated key stabbing action gained me access to a space both clearly brand new and evidently decorated by a man who was so NWM he probably arrived in a designer spaceship.

Of the many terrors this “hybrid third place delivering joy on many different soul levels” holds for the common man, the second most scary was represented by the bed. Or more precisely what was on the bed – to whit 12 cushions. And there were two beds . TWENTY-FUCKING-FOUR cushions? What is going on here? Clearly some kind of haberdashery arms race between competing hotels “Yes Gervase, they may have tassles spun from the testicle fur of a Arabian camel ,but who has covered the entire room with 70s wallpaper stuffed with foam? Hmm Hmm?

Unless you are a giraffe such plump accouterments are nothing more than pointless garnish, which may go some way to explaining how only 11 pence remained for the lighting system. Some not very bright spark configured the many and varied side lights, over hanging bulbs, desk illuminations and searing mirror lights in such a way they could only be extinguished by a master switch by the door.

I’ll let you think about that while I stumble about in a doomed navigational voyage to the bed. I successfully avoided various modern edgy edges before being felled by one of the very cushions I’d tossed to the floor some minutes earlier. Only mildly winded and lightly bruised, I climbed into bed where it became apparent no expense had been spared on the heating system either.

No because they’d captured a small sun and installed it directly under my room. Three more fraught journeys to the air conditioning panel*** made little difference other than adding to the all body bruising. Eventually I gave up, adding a duvet sail to the sea of pointless cushions and spent the next six hours not sleeping much.

The alarm call had all the charm that an electronic beep can offer before being followed up by one of the reception zombies enquiring if I required anything else? A proper night’s sleep? A room that’s not heated by the earth’s core? A lighting system not designed by the bloke from the Crystal Maze? “I’ll send up a suggestion card shall I sir?”

So hungover, tired and hungry I felt my day could only improve by a nice relaxing shower. Obviously, being me, I could never get that fucking lucky. The whole bathroom was a riot of light, mirrors, angles and everything carefully designed to make a fragile head feel slightly worse. But this merely was a curtain raiser for the shower; what a statement this was – huge tiled area, multiple outlets, mirrored casings and three shiny, chromed knobs with absolutely no notation on them whatsoever.

Being a proper engineer, I twiddled with the knobs**** for a while before an ill advised full bore rotation of a random knob fired out water at a pressure speaking directly of a conduit mined to the Mariana trench. Cold water at that, although cold isn’t really a good describing word as my kids would say. They probably wouldn’t say “FUUUUUCKKKK SHIIIIT WHAT THE TWATING HELL IS GOING ON HERE?” because they’d have been too busy drowning.

The sheer volume of icy liquid left me with no option but to salmon swim back up the cubicle in order to beat the stupid controls with a bloody fist. Finally I achieved some kind of water karma, but frankly I’d rather have fallen into the Thames than spend one bloody minute in that hotel. On checking out, many shiny teeth asked me if I’d enjoyed my brief stay.

And because I’m English I said “Yes, it was lovely” and “Do you have a doctor on site because I think I may have broken your shower with my testicles. Terribly sorry“.

And yet, and yet London is a hard place to hate on an autumnal morning draped in blue sky under a warming yellow sun. I popped into St. Pauls and wished the hotel designers had spent one minute in here because – even to a dedicated atheist such as me – it has an undoubted presence and almost endless beauty. And on my short walk to the office, I ducked off the main drag and wandered happily through narrow streets peopled with every size, shape and colour you could every want to meet.

I like that. And I liked the boggling choice of places for a NWM man to get a breakfast that doesn’t cost twenty five quid and come with worryingly attentive waiters. I chose one at random, ordered up pig inna bun accompanied by a vat of tea and all was well with the world.

Until the bill came and with it a demand for the best part of ten pounds.

Not My World. Not even close.

* Hedgehog Mark. Like a trademark only spikier.

** Up to the point when I – un-Yorkshirelike – I got a round in. How much for a beer? At least serve it bloody warm.

*** I considered ringing reception for some string but could not face the bright smiles of 300 or so employees turning up at my door.

**** Which kept me entertained for a while but realistically wasn’t going to get me clean and corporate.

Bridge Works.

Well it doesn’t really. There is a famous* motorway bridge that fords the mighty River Severn and is occasionally open for traffic. When they finished it back in the late 60’s, the mechanical plant was so fucked they just buried in the soft clay. Which makes a fantastic jape if you’re ever asked by the metal detector nerds for a good spot to go electronic lawn-mowing**

Last year they closed it for twenty dark weeks to break the world record for the longest continuous smoke of a dog-eared roll up. Honestly, on re-opening the only difference appeared to be a nine foot length of Armco and a sign informing us of how our council tax had funded a few thousand hours of chain smoking slackery. This year they’re straining the boundaries of sanity by offering up 24 weeks of low speed slinky cones under the auspices of generic “Bridge Works

.No idea what this means. Unless it’s a group noun for thirty orange hatted stationary vehicles acting as a leaning post for shoulder shrugging hi viz jackets. I had much time to muse on the exact purpose of closing this arterial masterpiece today, while some desultory clearing of a large accident took place.

For one hour I sat with the radio merrily informing me I’d be better off leaving at the junction some 100 yards behind me unless my travel plans included staring out of the window and swearing. Since the crack of dawn had cracked me out of my happily duvet’d bed, and my destination still felt many days away, I couldn’t help but gird the grumpy gland and wonder why the fuck this always happens to me

And some others obviously, but it’s not like they’re important. At this time I really wanted to be in one of the many emergency vehicles speeding down the hard should, or the inventor of a teleporting machine, or – and to be honest this was about the limit of my aspiration – back in bed dreaming of excuses why I don’t need to be here.

Anyway sufficient time passed for me to consider a second shave before a slow rubber-necked crawl past the remains of what was clearly a fairly impressive stack with three cars still on their side and all sorts of industrial equipment sawing away at bodywork that was unlikely to buff out.

And then I noticed something fantastic. Not the mirrored queue on the other side created entirely by ghoulish commuters with nothing better to do that stop and stare, or exchanging a respectful, manly nod with a policeman who waved we through. No it was the mere fact that two of the destroyed vehicles were BMW’s. And the other one was an Audi.

That’ll learn you tailgating and testosterone don’t mix won’t it cock-boys eh? One of the drivers of cockmobile-1 was still staggering about jabbering into his mobile phone. I didn’t just smile, I thought “hey two BMW’s AND an Audi – that’s worth an hour of my time

Still gloating will always come back and poke one up the behind, as was perfectly observed when some five miles down the road I noticed a happy sign declaiming “Road Works here for 28 weeks, Delays possible

Possible? Possible? People will die and mothers will give birth in these queues. At this rate I’ll have to ride through the winter and get the train. Imagine how grumpy I’ll be then.

* well famous in Herefordshire, but then that’s a short list including a cow that looks a bit like Jesus.

** I refuse to call them “detectorists” in the same way that “Railway Enthusiasts” are Train Spotters in dirty anoraks and “Aeromodelling Pilots” are sad old geeks who would cherish the kudos of being as cool as a train spotter.


That’s me. Not physically, but hold that thought while I mentally prepare my list of people who should be. This week I have mainly been firing up the motivational chainsaw, while adopting a coping mechanism built around edged weapons.

Things have not been going well.

I’ve missed out on riding, and almost everything else other than sitting in front of a phone and shouting. The phone is carefully placed so to leave me room to beat my head repeatedly against the desk. Again, I categorise such action as “coping”.

This morning, the light finally filtered into my train journey at Reading. I am sure you can imagine how disappointing that is. Whooshing through the Cotswolds – identified by the smell of twee – in the inky blackness of the pre-dawn, only for light to illuminate the architectural disaster area that is London West.

I do not expect my day to improve. Although tonight I am separated from the hedgy burrow by an evening in London. I expect most of tomorrow to involve some form of hangover cure. Possibly hacking my own head off with that chainsaw.

Until then, I must away. Things to do, people to see, desks to damage through the management tool of hysterical headbutting.

Hitting the wall

This is not, as it may first seem, the beginnings of my burial chamber. However, the way things have been going lately, the prospect of a long lie down in a cool, shaded spot is rather becoming. As opposed to what I am becoming which is bloody irritable.

My fully synchronised electronic diary failed to interface with its’ analogue sibling on hosted the kitchen wall, so curtailing my long looked forward to weekend of riding in the Peaks. A duplicitous plan, built on the need to fix my Mum’s home PC, was revealed for the web of receipt everyone knew it was, after said parent arrived at our house late last week.

Diaries you see, I have several but Carol has “the one that counts“. And I have not time to bore you with rambling whinges on house progress (not enough), budget situation (not enough), fantastic days of riding (not enough) and work (far too much).

In fact, I am being dispatched today to actually go and talk to some real clients. It’s been over three years since I had to go and earn a proper living. I’m quite looking forward to it, which is probably more than both those who have asked and those who are to receive my wise words and flailing hand motions.

I have just enough time to notice that Mountain Mayhem this year appears to be set fair. This I find slightly troubling as the entire world weather systems seems finely balanced on the predication that MM is ALWAYS piss wet through. Maybe the CLIC this year has drained the clouds of all their water.

Anyway I shall return in the manner of Arnie, although with more words and less shooting people. Unless London gets the better of me again.

Buckle up

The old busy working excuse must again be trotted out, as the primary reason why the hedgehog has resisted any signs of springing out of hibernation since last week.

This ongoing ‘having to work for a living‘ issue has also had to fit around Random contracting Chicken Pox (the day after we brought the chickens home – coincidence? I think not), increasingly frantic activity around heating systems, frustration over floor heights, mental gurning trying to sort difficult electrics, and the imminent prospect of great big sodding trenches being dug.

Fear not, electronic therapy shall be rolled out as early as tomorrow with six hours of train time to fill. I’m very excited about the workshop/office/re-homing of the beer fridge which is currently being machined out of solid, er, woody stuff in a big shed in Hereford. And I know you’ll be almost as excited to hear some more about that πŸ˜‰

In the meantime, let me leave you with this: slipping on the corporate disguise after riding in this morning, was an unusually uplifting experience. As I’ve had to tighten my belt another notch to stop my trousers falling down*. Okay my knee is pretty well buggered, and commuting at this time of year is fraught with issues around “thermal shrinkage”, but ANOTHER NOTCH and one that has never been used before.

This cheered me up so much, I immediately dispatched an enormous bacon sandwich to celebrate πŸ™‚

* Still frowned upon in our offices. Seems a little old fashioned to me.


I’m not sure what is more stupid, racing against yourself or being unhappy when you lose. Commuting in London was also about targets – but only because you were one, and my idea of a result was arriving at work with the same number of limbs as I’d started out with.

Commuting here is different for many reasons. It’s hillier, safer and longer. Finishing via the Ledbury cycleway takes it to a tad under eleven miles, with 570 feet of vertical to get over. On the roadrat, it was a 50 minute pootle through pleasantly deserted roads, dispatched without getting too much of a sweat on.

The Jake is different, it may be from an older generation of race bikes, but a race bike it still is. It seems to falter and lose speed so quickly when you coast – becoming turgid and heavy. But crank it up and it flies, stiff and fast, needing just a nudge to change direction and super composed sweeping through bends.

Throw a GPS into the mix which shows your pace against a previous best time, and beepily nags at you to try harder. And try you do, staying on the drops, refusing to drop a gear and going for the gurn. I used to hate drop bars, but now they make sense – cutting through the wind and providing a stable platform so you can just pedal and go faster.

It’s not enjoyable cycling. There is no time to watch the rising sun slant stunningly through the orchards, you don’t wonder at the joy of being out of the car and into the rural air. At no point does your mind wander to great thoughts or pointless introspection. Because the bastard GPS is beeping out your weakness, and you’re more interested in looking for ten seconds than looking at the view.

Maybe you coasted a bit here last time, did I get off the drops, was it a gear down? No time to remember, just get the hammer down, accept it’s going to hurt, let rasping lungs and burning thighs fight over who gives up first. Chase buses, chafe at traffic, swear at wandering pedestrians – don’t they know I’m on for my BEST TIME?

It’s idiocy. And you can’t win. You can die by a thousand cuts. Weighted down tomorrow by drizzle, tired legs and excuses, I’ll get bested by my virtual self. And it’ll bother me.

Somewhere in this world of lunacy, I might be getting a little bit fit. More likely it’s a tailwind πŸ˜‰

What kind of lunatic designs a building like that?

Daytime TV has a lot to bloody well answer for, but before the throw stuff at the tv freak shows masquerading as public service broadcasting, we had Lloyd Grossman stretching every vowel for a few minutes while we voyeurisly nosed around long forgotten celebrity’s houses. And with his sign off line, some unemployable z list wanabees would ask vacuous questions to the vain owner, while audiences clapped and cheered for no obvious reason.

It almost makes me greatful for Jeremy Kyle. Note the careful use of the word ‘almost‘. There are so many channels chasing so little content, I’m petitioning to bring back the test card. It offers far more intellectual stimulation than some twenty stone chubb-a-lubb decrying a loveless marriage as an excuse to why she has stapled cats to her ears.

Right, wrong rant but that’s understandable since my cerebral compost has been vigorously stirred by an experience that continues to shape a strong belief there are people of other worlds amongst us. And because you shall need help to identify them before their insidious industry causes more confusion, terror and even death, I shall come to your aid right now.

They can be found in expensive jackets over blue jeans, shirts will be colourful or for the uber cool alien at large, possibly a niche designer t-shirt. Their facial expression can best be described as “I will try and explain this to you insignificant person, but my brain is so large and you are so stupid“. If you – as I do – feel the urge to hunt them down with spears and axes, you can find them hiding in their shadowy cabals under the name of “architects”

Beware these outer-worlders, because they think nothing of designing buildings in the most expensive real estate in the world with great big sodding holes in the middle. This chasm “instructs brightness and light, delivers the outside inside, juxtaposes the ethics of work and play and” – let me use some earth words here “creates a great big bloody suicide pit right in the centre of the restaurant”

Now having created this gladiatorial Colosseum, are they done? Of course not, each floor has a vertigous walkway spanning the terrifying void, with only a tiny handrail between you and a splattery death some fifty feet below. To spice up life a litle more, who do you think they dispatch to the third floor with no way of entry except over the Death Bridge?

IT people that’s who – yes that notoriously stable group of well balanced individuals who spend most of their day shouting “twatty little bastard, start working RIGHT NOW or, by God ,I am coming in there to EAT YOU” at complex – but blameless – electronic equipment. Honestly a week of that and you’ll have them queuing up for a quick exit over the suicide rail.

Exposure and me don’t go well together, and I am not talking about baring my arse in Sainsbury’s here. But edges* close to or over bone breaking drops get me reaching for a set of blinkers and a strong drink. And my faith in even the handrail was shaken when a work colleague did exactly that while I watched in horror as it flexed and vibrated like a good-time latex girl. Now he’d shown what a shonky structure it was on the way in, I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to get back out again.

Eventually I came up with an approach that, while it worked for me, worried all the other staff on the floor who have a panoramic view of each suicide attempt. I took on the mantle of a American police detective, and slapped the door hard, then rushing in back against the wall, fingers pointing gunwards at the criminal rail. If it tried anything like taking the floor with it, I was ready. I crouched low and shuffled towards safety whispering “Cover me Dan, if that rail so much as twtiches, blast the perp and ask questions later”.

Half way across I did a full 180 degree double take, and beckoned a frightened work mate across. At which point my knees gave way and – to my horror – I fell face forward towards the evil rail and it’s henchman the dodgy perspex. Deciding I preferred the view from floor level, I made a fast crawl for the exit door and, on reaching it, punched the air with a “yeah, yeah, OH YEAH, never in doubt NEVER IN SODDING DOUBT”.

At no point do I feel this damaged my professional credibility. As I attempted to smarten myself up a man with a proper sounding job looked me up and down before asking “Work in IT do you?

No idea what could have given him that impression.

* this honestly is a true story. My first proper** girlfriend firmly believed I was scared of hedges. My strange Northern accent made her extremely solicitous whenever we passed some aggressive topiary “you’ll be alright, just don’t look”. I assumed she was mental for going out with me in the first place, so didn’t really worry about it.

** one you’ve slept with. Holding hands or wanking doesn’t count. Your dad should have explained this to you.

You shouldn’t be allowed…

Taken by phone while removing pedal from my ear.

Somewhere in my DNA is a corrupted genetic strand, triggered when some self-important cock ends announces how their view of the world is somehow much more important than yours. This chemical imbalance invariably leads to a spittle-flecked sweary invective, and a fight or fight a bit more response desperate to put the fat* oaf on his lardy arse.

I am thinking of this as my “Yorkshire Gene

The situation manifested itself again on Monday from a starting position of already quite irritated. I had been herded into the furthest nook of a train carriage significantly encumbered by bicycle, and was now sat hard on the floor with a pedal in my ear. Exhibit A – pompous arse – declares “Bicycles aren’t allowed on this train” aiming a pudgy digit in my direction.

I tried – I really did – to be reasonable pointing out that the physical evidence was clearly not in favour of his argument. He attempted to wriggle mentally sideways** suggesting my bike took space that would be better made available for humans. I parried that it was hardly my bloody fault London Midland had gone all Chilten-esque and lost half of their rolling stock.

A side bar here. How the fuck can you lose two entire train carriages? What kind of conversation preceeds that? “Bob, have you seen 120 feet of metal, kind of square, wheels on the bottom, windows in the side?” / “Nah, Bill had it last, he’s probably left it at home“. I am finding things like this increasingly disturbing as if someone “up there” is stroking a cat and laughing at me.

Anyway fat boy stupid refuses to let it lie and tediously rambles on at a volume pitched to annoy just about everybody. Eventually – and predictably – I snap. “Look fucknugget, I am sat in possibly the most uncomfortable space ever***, it is pissing down with rain outside, my decent waterproof is at home and I have ten miles of wind, cold and dark to look forward to. So how fucking much do you think I care about whether there is sufficient room for your fat arse? And on that point, my bike and I would barely cast a shadow on your huge behind, so if you want more space I suggest you lay off the fucking pies”

That’s not verbatim. I’ve taken out some of the swearing. The silence which followed was quite shocked. I am sure there would have been some uncomfortable wriggling and shuffling of feet had their been any room. Which of course there wasn’t.

I spent the rest of the journey ex-communicated, and moodily staring out into a darkening sky. At each station, I’d wearily wheel the bike off into the gloom – and while waiting for the stream of grumpy humanity to disembark – measure the weight of the rain and the depth of the cold before shivering on back inside.

By the time Ledbury railed into view, I was properly miserable. But the now almost empty train still hadn’t finished with me. A gentlemen of some antiquity accused me of deliberately oiling his trousers with my grubby chainset. No sniggering at the back, there isn’t a hidden meaning in there, however much you want there to be.

Within thirty seconds of his complaint, he must have been feeling that a slightly raffish stain on his pensioner slacks was not at the top of his list of problems. Which now included an angry middle aged man explaining shoutily that he would find the form to claim back his dry cleaning bill UP HIS ARSE. Which shouldn’t be hard to find AS HIS HEAD WAS ALREADY UP THERE.

This isn’t the first time it has happened. Or the second. And probably unlikely to be the last either. One day someone is just going to lamp me, and it will make me think twice. Right now I’d settle for thinking just once.

* Not always, but mostly. There is something about very fat people that makes them either extremely jolly or bloody annoying. Sometimes both.

** Absolutely no room to actually move any limb whatsoever. They tried to add more people at the next station leading to an impromotu entire all-carriage rendition of Scotty and “She’ll na take any more Capt’n”

*** Not quite true. I had forgotten the brutal torture that is Ryan Air’s 5mm inter-seat policy.