Friday, April 30, 2010

The Truth by Peter James .

The back cover of this novel reads...

Susan and John Carter are crazy about each other and life is perfect but for one thing - they are on the brink of financial disaster. Surely being a surrogate mother to another man's child won't harm such a strong relationship? Especially when the mysterious Mr Sarotzini is offering to save their home and business - everything they've worked for.

What seems to be a perfect solution begins to feel like an impossible situation. Susan's pregnancy is disturbingly painful but no one will tell her why. It becomes apparent that Sarotzini wields immense power and Susan begins to doubt everything she knows. As she realises the terrifying origin of the dark forces Sarotzini controls she is in fear for herself and John but most of all for her unborn baby.

...Well, what can I say? The Truth has 501 pages and was published in 1997 but re-issued in 2007. I now know why this novel was re-issued, The Truth is simply an excellent book. I will happily give this book the top score of 5 stars on book army because this novel is so good, I can find no faults with the story. The Truth is a very good thriller and the quality of Peter's writing is simply top class. Peter has the gift of story telling and I enjoyed this book, big time.

This novel has a beautiful arrangement of characters who work so well that you feel for them and understand their dilemmas. This story explores the strong emotions not just of Susan becoming a surrogate mother but also of her progress through her pregnancy. As a reader, you live with Susan's pregnancy day by day as you read through this book and I developed a feeling for her foetus , who she affectionately named "bump". Susan is preparing for that last contact with her child as she gives it away to Emil Sarotzini. Susan buys a present for "bump", a present to say a final goodbye, that hit a raw nerve with me. I then began to fully understand Susan's feelings for her unborn child. I feel this novel will appeal to both men and women. The story switches between the viewpoints of Susan and her husband John. As her pregnancy progresses I started to understand how John feels about his wife carrying another man's child. It is not easy for John to come to terms with because Susan is just doing it for the money, yet the child will be half Susan and half the mysterious Emil Sarotzini. John has the same dilemmas that every husband faces when he takes on a step family, something I did in 1991. Slowly I began to understand the feelings and motivations of Stefan Kundz, an assistant to Emil Sarotzini, who is simply doing his job.

Now then, can Susan and John escape from their situation and return to a normal life after this child is born? Are what happens to the other characters in this story simply coincidences or are there some very dark forces at play? Susan and John have many doubts about Emil Sarotzini, he is a very private man. These doubts progress as events unfold and both Susan and John wonder exactly who is telling them the truth. There are suspicions that some characters may be in cahoots with Emil Sarotzini and that things could turn out very badly for Susan and John. What is really going on? Who can Susan and John trust and can they even trust each other?

Everything fits together neatly in this story, it has a very good structure to it. Everything adds up and makes sense in the end. The reader travels through a brilliant tour of hope for both Susan and John. The ending is priceless and you think WOW!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Living with a pensioner.

Oh, how the years roll on! It is so very easy to forget that we are all getting older. I still feel like a man in his twenties, I have a young outlook on life and I have no aches or pains. I am 51 years old but I do not feel like a middle-aged man. My wife Gail received a letter the other day from our government's pension service. The woman's retirement age in the UK is being increased from 60 to 65 and this increase is being staggered over a number of years. Because of this many women, including Gail will retire between 60 and 65 but not on their birthday. Gail will retire on the 6th September 2013, which is not so very far away. We have already talked about her 60th birthday and we have got used to thinking of her becoming sixty - just another milestone, one that is so easy to accept.

But since the arrival of this letter, I have been teasing her big time. "Hey Gail, what is going on? Will your "toy boy" husband soon be living with a pensioner? A pensioner, I ask you!"

It is difficult getting my head around the idea of sharing a home with a pensioner. Where have the years gone? It seems only a few years ago that John, who reads the blog, and I were rambling over Dartmoor with Susan Davidge. Those were the days, rambling over moorlands and mountains. Now I share a home with a woman who in three years time will become a pensioner. Gail has a walking disability and can't go rambling anywhere. I will be living with a pensioner but I will not be hanging up my walking trainers, I have a dog to walk. It is hard for Gail to watch as I walk briskly away with our little dog. But then, she did marry a man 7 years younger than her. She always marvels at my legs being so slim and knees that bend without a glitch and do not lock.

Still, I love Gail and I will not be going off with some younger woman who can ramble over moorland and mountains. Marriage is for life and that includes women who cannot walk and are of pensionable age. Gail cannot walk very far at all but boy, can she talk!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The face of Plaid Cymru.

What would you expect the face of Plaid Cymru to be? What would you think his name may be? Plaid Cymru - the Party of Wales, let me think, short - plump - middle aged - white - man, with a name like Dai Evans, Dai Jones or Dai Thomas. Oh, what is that I see walking down the Grand Avenue here in Ely, Cardiff. It is a Plaxton Pointer bodied Dennis Dart service bus, operated by the original cowboy of Abercynon, Clayton Jones - trading as St. David's Travel, as he cherry-picks the passengers off the 18 bus route into Cardiff City Centre. On the back of his rough bus is a poster for Plaid Cymru.

In the coming general election here in Cardiff West, we have a choice of candidates. As regular readers to this blog will be aware, my wife Gail and I shall be voting for the offical Labour candidate Kevin Brennan . Voters throughout South Wales have the choice of many candidates on their ballot papers. An old workmate of mine is tempted to switch his vote from super-posh David Cameron's Tory Blood Sport Party to Plaid Cymru. But although he may like to dip his willy into darker flesh, would he really like to vote for the Cardiff West Plaid Cymru candidate? Mohammed Sarul Islam was born in Moulvibazar , Bangladesh , in 1971.

Of course, if my old workmate had a vote in Cardiff West rather than the Vale of Glamorgan, then maybe he would be sorely tempted to vote for Mohammed, because Bangladeshi's drive on the left! As we all know, any thinking person should both drive on the left and vote on the left! So then Tory boy, who would you rather vote for? Some blood sport loving, super-rich, public school boy, Conservative candidate, a brown skinned immigrant or a local man who shares your working class roots?

Okay, enough teasing of an old workmate, I was however genuinely surprised at the Plaid Cymru poster of Mohammed. I will not vote Plaid Cymru because I do not believe that they offer the best representation of the working man within our country as a whole. I think that the best vote for all working men in Britain is with the Labour Party. I do not think that regional parties like Plaid Cymru and the Scottish National Party offer a way forward in the government of our country. I think their vision is narrow and they have no pull in England. We should all pull together in our national problems rather than fight regional battles. I have lived in Cardiff since 1991 but I do not think of myself as Welsh. Look at my passport and I do not think of myself as English either. Look at my driving licence and I do not think of myself as a "monkey-hanger" either! I do not buy this identity thing - I will not wear the badge of a Northern Englishman. I am just another voter, nothing more and nothing less. What I do like about Plaid Cymru is that they as a party have actively encouraged diversity within our country and although their banner is - the Party of Wales - have put forward a candidate in Cardiff West who simply shows what a lovely diverse and multi-cultural city I am very proud to be a part of.

I would like to thank Mohammed Sarul Islam for standing as a candidate in the Cardiff West national elections, he does not get my vote but I am genuinely pleased that he has given the voters within Cardiff West a greater choice of candidate. Peace be with you.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Fart and Ride with Delme Bowen .

And the front page of today's South Wales Echo reveals...

A FLAGSHIP park and ride scheme, part of Cardiff’s carbon-busting travel scheme, is losing £50,000 a month, the Echo can reveal. The Pentwyn facility in the east of the city costs five times as much to run as it brings in from commuters in an average month. Cardiff council created the £4m purpose-built park and ride last year as part of the city’s attempt to beat congestion and promote public transport. The council today said it had only been open for six months and it would take time for car drivers to change their habits.

Delme Bowen, Cardiff council’s executive member for transport , added Pentwyn was not intended as a money-making scheme but as a means of reducing congestion and bring down the city’s carbon footprint. Its costs are covered by income from pay and display parking in the city centre. The park and ride figures, obtained by the Echo under the Freedom of Information Act, show the Pentwyn scheme costs £56,894 to provide buses, maintenance and staffing over a four-week period. But the site’s monthly income has fluctuated between £4,532 and £21,556 in the peak Christmas shopping period, although most months the average is around £10,000. In total, over the past five months – 22 weeks – the site has cost almost £313,000 to run but has taken in just £63,400 – a loss of £250,000, or £50,000 a month. The 320-parking space site has been busiest on Saturdays and Sundays with shoppers. Cardiff council is planning to expand it to 700 spaces to cater for its popularity.

...What were you thinking Delme? Are you living in the real world? I think NOT. As regular readers of this blog will know, I have worked with buses and coaches for over 30 years. Once people get the use of a private motor car they are extremely reluctant to use public transport. The private motor car offers such convenience and independence that it cannot be beaten by public transport. Delme Bowen has this pipe dream, in the comfort of his office, that people will be happy to abandon their car on the outskirts of our city and queue up in the cold for a 15 minute frequency bus service. Then they will have a 20 minute bus journey with complete strangers to the edge of our shopping district in Dumfries Place. This maybe the wrong side of our City Centre for them and they can look forward to a trek across town to their destination. When they have finished their business in our city they can look forward to the trek back to Dumfries Place, a wait at a bus stop for a 15 minute frequency service and hop back onto a bus for another 20 minute journey with more strangers. This is assuming that they are happy to return before 20.30 Monday to Friday, 19.00 on a Saturday and 17.30 on a Sunday. Yeah right!

In the real world people do not want a park and ride service. People want the convenience, independence and fast journey times that private motor cars offer. Once people have invested in a car they do not want to trade down to public transport. If public transport was so wonderful they would never have bought a car in the first place. Car users quickly go to exactly where they want to go, park up and enjoy. That is the real world and that is why this park and ride project has failed. It was a big surprise to me when the Pentwyn Park and Ride started. I never thought it would be successful because of the demographics of our city and the convenience of the car. Once people get the use of a car, they never go back to the bus.

Monday, April 26, 2010


Coming out of London driving my coach, I saw a new billboard that attracted my attention. It was an advertisement with a simple message "SAVE ME", the face of a fox and a website address. This advertisement provoked an instant reaction from me and I wanted to find out more. The website URL was dead easy to say it me dot org dot uk...easy me the fox...must remember the me dot org dot hyphen me dot org dot it.

So I drove back to Cardiff in my lovely coach and at the back of my mind was the face of that fox.

Then I remembered a comment on my blog from my friend Tim...

Cleo is ready! I too am surprised at Cameron saying something that makes sense. I will not however vote for him as he supports foxhunting and this will cost him votes. A vote for the conservatives is a vote for animal cruelty. Tim
# posted by Anonymous : 1 February 2010 21:28

...and now I have looked up the website on my home computer. This advertisement is the first billboard of the SAVE ME campaign and is located on the Cromwell Road opposite the huge Tesco Extra supermarket. The current Tory party leadership has vowed, if they win this coming election, to try to repeal the Hunting Act – a law which it took animal-lovers 80 years, and 700 hours of parliamentary debate to bring into effect, by democratic process, in accordance with the will of at least 75 per cent of the population. IF this law were repealed, it would become legal to hunt to the death, with brutalised packs of dogs, not only foxes, but stags, hares, and other wild creatures in Britain’s countryside. The Tory party leadership has also confirmed that it will immediately dismantle the current 5-year plan for vaccinating badgers against Bovine TB, and instigate a cull instead; in effect, nothing less than the eventual extermination of our native badgers.

So then, I simply urge you to vote with your conscience. The fox does not have a vote and it will not attack you. Can you condone fox hunting and other blood sports? What value do you put on life? Is it a sport to kill another animal just for your own leisure? How would you feel if you were brutalised by a pack of dogs only to find it was not a bad dream but your limbs were being pulled apart as your blood was being drained away? Vote for change? No thank you Tory boy, I want to live in a civilised society. I maybe top of the food chain but I do not want to go back to the stone age.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Lenore writes about Plagiarism in Book Blogs.

Just catching up on reading some of my favourite blogs today and I turn to Presenting Lenore , a blog written by a book lover. On the 16th April Lenore writes a post about Plagiarism is So Not Cool . Lenore is complaining about “cobbling together a book review by stealing parts of others’ reviews.” in your own blog. Oh yes, this is indeed plagiarism and she is rightly annoyed by the tiny minority of lazy bloggers who have committed this offence. Her post attracted some 52 comments and plagiarism it is clearly a concern to many bloggers.

I agree with the tone of her post and like many of the commentators I was also surprised that some bloggers were actually so lazy as to steal the work of other bloggers. Writing a blog is a labour of love and you will want to have your own stamp on it, not the stamp of another blogger. It is bad that some bloggers have stooped so low and have passed off other bloggers work as their own. I have nothing against bloggers who republish the work of other bloggers when they give credit to them. I know of one woman who does this a lot and she always gives credit to the author.

The best part of Lenore's post is about how to avoid plagiarism. She suggests that you "Find your voice". Develop a style and tone that you are comfortable with that differentiates your reviews from others’. Certainly, your style might vary slightly depending on the type of book you are reviewing, but you should still aim to be recognizably you. That will make your work easy to spot if another blogger tries to pass it off as their own!

Everybody has their own voice, it is only natural. Take as an example a comment on this blog I received to my post entitled "What is happening, dude?" . The comment displayed as ...

steve my friend you know who I am. We have spoken on many occasions about the company in question and you never seemed to believe me!!!

The management HAVE known for some time that things were going pear shaped but have not told the drivers..... All I can say my friend is that come June there will be no job for you at your current place of employment. I know this to be FACT and so does the management.........


Dan Brown and John Grisham fan
# posted by Anonymous : 5 April 2010 22:22 then, I did not need the clue of "Dan Brown and John Grisham fan" to understand who the Anonymous commentator was. The "voice" of the comment was enough for me to recognize without doubt who this Anonymous person is in real life. By coincidence Gail and I were chatting over breakfast this morning about what would happen if either of us lost our voice and the other one had to speak for them. I then mimicked her and rattled off a stream of sentences that Gail could say. This was very easy for me to do after 18 years of marriage and she thought it was very funny at how I poked fun at her. I can also mimic her droning on the telephone and it always amazes me how women chat on the telephone to each other.

Friday, April 23, 2010

South Wales Police bring chaos to Cardiff and the surrounding areas when they close the M4 motorway westbound from Junctions 33 to 35.

The press statement from the South Wales Police states "South Wales Police is currently in attendance at a serious road traffic collision on the M4 westbound between junctions 34 and 35 that occurred just before 10am. A lorry has rolled down the motorway embankment and a van has overturned on the carriageway. Emergency services are in attendance. The M4 westbound between junctions 34 and 35 has been closed and police believe that it will be shut for the whole of the afternoon and during the rush hour later in the day and possibly into tonight.

BBC News ran with this story, including a 1 minute 11 second video from the scene. The M4 westbound near Cardiff will remain closed until later on Friday evening, after a fatal crash involving a lorry and a transit van. Motorists were facing delays of up to three hours and the M4 westbound between Cardiff West and Pencoed will stay shut until at least 2000 BST. The lorry rolled down an embankment off the motorway, and a van was left on its side on the carriageway at 1000 BST.
One person was killed and two people were treated for minor injuries. The Welsh Ambulance Service said one person was confirmed dead at the scene and the two injured people were taken to the Princess of Wales Hospital, Bridgend.
Drivers heading west along the M4 towards Bridgend are being advised to take a diversion - however delays of up to three hours have been reported by motorists attempting to travel to the suggested diversion at junction 33 from junction 32 at Coryton.

Wales Online describes the traffic delays in and around Cardiff resulting from this motorway closure. Relatively short journeys were turned into ones of several hours, with knock-on effects across large parts of South Wales. The A48 was particularly badly affected. In Cardiff, cars were backed up along almost the entire length of the A4232 dual carriageway to the city centre after South Wales Police advised motorists to use the link road.

Ex traffic officer Adrian Llewellyn-Jones, who was stuck in traffic in Cardiff for hours after travelling into the city centre for a business meeting, said: “In an hour and a half I have travelled five miles. I won’t get home until six o’clock at this rate, in another hour and a half. It’s just mad that they continually shut the road with no regard for other motorists. Once the casualties are gone then there is no reason why they should not clear the road within 30 minutes. As an ex-traffic officer there is no excuse for it.”

Speaking from his Toyota estate he added: “The police are more intent on turning it into a crime scene and spending up to 24 hours closing the motorway, which is madness.”

Mark Eldridge, of Canton, Cardiff, was also trapped in the chaos. The 29-year-old said: : “I was travelling back to work in Culverhouse Cross after attending a meeting in Taffs Well. After exiting Junction 32 I noticed a tailback of traffic, switched on the traffic report on my car radio and found out that the M4 was closed between junction 33 and 35. A nine-mile journey took me one hour and 40 minutes.”

Cardiff council said: “Our guys are incredibly busy looking at the CCTV. Traffic at the moment is currently all the way to the Butetown tunnel.”

...So there you have it, yet again. There is an accident and the Police close the road for as long as they damn well like, regardless of the opinions of the taxpayers who pay their damn wages. This happens all around our country, it is not just a Welsh thing. This tragic fatal accident happened at 10 o'clock this morning and I agree with ex traffic officer Adrian Llewellyn-Jones that once the casualties are gone then there is no reason why they should not clear the road within 30 minutes. Closing the road for hours on end will never bring back the dead. Sadly accidents do happen but by closing a road it will not make the accident "undone".

We must look at the cost-benefit of the Police closing our roads where there has been an accident. Why assume that all accidents are a crime scene? The cost of these avoidable delays from the Police closing our roads is borne by everyone. Everyone driving at work will take longer to do their job and at the end of the day, you, the customer has to pay. I finished work 60 minutes later than my scheduled finishing time, time that must be paid for! Then in my own time, a journey of 10 miles home that usually takes 20 to 25 minutes, took me 60 minutes - only because I know this area well. If I had taken my normal tea-time route home, I do not know when I would have got back because a friend who lives on the Rhydlafr Estate said she had cancelled going out tonight because she could not drive off her estate, the traffic along the Llantrisant Road had gridlocked.

There is no need for the Police to close our roads for so long. This is not in the public interest and I hope the Welsh Assembly sorts the South Wales Police out. Twice the Police have annoyed me today, the first time was in London this morning. The Police have a helicopter, a bloody noisy thing. Did this wretched Police resource fly swiftly to the scene of a crime or followed a pursuit? No, it just hovered, clackeredy clack, clackeredy clack, just south of London Victoria Coach Station. You try reading a book sat on a bench in the small park behind the coach station. Clatter, clatter, clatter went the rotors - what a dreadful racket this noise was and it spoilt my rest break. How long did the residents have to suffer this awful noise from the Police helicopter hovering above their homes? The constant racket from the rotors got the better of me and not having a surface to air missile at hand, I returned to my coach just to minimize the noise.

The Police wonder why they no longer have the support of the public who pay them. I can give you 2 sample reasons why without thinking very hard!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The National Express book club.

Oh what a buzz in the newspapers this video and story has provoked! Gail shook her copy of the Sun newspaper at me, look she said, a National Express bus driver reading a book whilst driving. Oh, I replied looking at the photograph, that's strange as the driver is not wearing a grey National Express uniform shirt that you are so familiar with ironing. That made my alarm bells start ringing because National Express are very hot on all their drivers wearing the official and current uniform across the group.

I then went online and found the video and story . It does seem rather odd that no complaint was made directly to the bus company and the passenger was more interested in uploading his video footage onto You Tube. The driver has been suspended and will now face disciplinary action. This story was covered on Asylum UK which generated a lot of user comments including...

Wednesday 21 April
by Blogger

That wasn't a book, it's the 'Route' pamphlet all drivers are issued with which shows the route each bus takes. I'm not saying the driver should have been reading it, but the headline and script makes it seem the driver was engrossed in a paperback when he quite clearly wasn't. Been there, done it etc etc.

Wednesday 21 April
by Wayne

the point is he is looking over his route so he doesnt go the wrong way, bus drivers are under massive pressure to get to complete a route in a very short time (ask any bus driver). we all do things we shouldnt or could get in trouble for at work, fortunately for us there isnt some little grass filming us on the sly.
did the sh*tbag with the camera feel in danger? then why not complain to the driver? no! he felt safe enough to film the driver for his youtube channel. so the man made an error of judgement and because of some sly little dipsh*t he'll be soon unemployed. i wouldnt be proud of myself had i got a man sacked, much better to have the balls to raise your objection there and then. this little nugget with the phone would have filmed anything entertaining ie.. a mugging, a beating, as long as he doesnt need to get involved that is

...Over on News Arse they do a nice satire entitled "Poorly paid bus drivers forced to read ‘books’ when on duty". Dave Simms, a bus driver from Coventry, said, “Yes, I’ll admit that seeing this type of behaviour on film is quite embarrassing.”
“But you have to remember that bus drivers don’t earn very much, so often a ‘book’ is the only thing we can afford to read when we’re on duty and bored witless.”
“Sure, we’d all like to be looking at an iPhone, but until we’re paid what we genuinely believe we deserve, that will remain nothing more than a pipe dream.”

The incident is set to lead to further calls for pay rises throughout the transport industry, in the hope that reading materials can be brought up to date across the board. A representative of the Transport and General Workers Union said, “It is shameful that a worker providing such an essential service for the public must resort to entertaining themselves in such a demeaning manner.”
“In case you hadn’t noticed, the year is 2010, not 1970.”
“We now have eBooks, the Kindle, smart phones, and even the iPad, and yet still our members must entertain themselves on monotonous journeys using a series of printed pages bound together in chronological order to form a coherent story.”
“It’s the election issue that nobody wants to talk about, and so I would remind the main parties that the bus driver vote is there for the taking - by anyone offering an iPhone.”

...So, I wonder how this story will pan out in the days to come? It does seem rather odd to me. This driver was not wearing the National Express uniform so he must be very new to the company indeed. Maybe he is one of the many East Europeans that bus companies are so keen to employ, rather than give British drivers a pay rise. I am reluctant to believe that he was actually reading a paperback. I think he was probably glancing at the "bus company documentation" as he worked through his duty, information that he needed immediately to perform his job. If he kept this documentation open with his fingers, then he would not need to turn through the pages when he needed to glance at it again. There is a big difference from glancing at a page to reading a book. Everyday bus and coach drivers have to glance away from the road to read things, things that are necessary to the job, like the dashboard with all those gauges and the speedometer, plus all those road signs with lots of words written on them. You never know what is going through the mind of a bus and coach driver as he drives along the road. Okay, he will not be reading a book but maybe he is reading every advertising billboard or mentally undressing every pedestrian? Bus and coach drivers do not have tunnel vision, we look around at different things, that is how we avoid cars pulling in front of us from side turnings and across lanes. Oh no! The bus is going forwards and the driver is looking behind in his mirror!

It will be interesting to know how his disciplinary interview goes but I will be surprised if it becomes public knowledge. What is nice about book reading at National Express is the quiet room in the new Birmingham Coach Station. This quiet room is just right for me to read a book during my rest breaks in Birmingham. There are 3 comfy chairs to sit on with a reading light above each seat. What a surprise I got yesterday afternoon when I went in and there was a woman driver talking on her mobile telephone! I sat there reading my book with my temper slowly rising as this woman continued talking in the quiet room. Thankfully she finished her telephone call, got up and left the quiet room leaving me in peace to read my book! I did not have to challenge her over her disgraceful behaviour in the quiet room but it was getting close, very close, less than a minute in it. Oh yes, drivers within National Express do indeed enjoy reading books, whether they drive buses or coaches. I wonder if there is a link on the company website to the National Express Book Club or if it will be featured in the next edition of Drivers' Update?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Yawn! - The election is coming.

I cannot stand apathy and I think that all adults should vote in the coming general election. It is not much to ask everyone to vote and the choice of representative is rather easy for everyone. You could look at every party's manifesto if you are still unsure who to vote for, or you could go to this website and fill in the simple quiz that takes under 5 minutes. Who Should You Vote For? will then give you the results. These results show you which party to vote for and how many points each party scored. It will be of no surprise to my regular readers to see my recommendation was to vote Labour! Now look at the scores for the other parties...

Labour 18
Liberal Democrat 15
UK Independence 3
Green -2
Conservative -10

...That was not a narrow recommendation. Vote for change - no thank you, Tory boy!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Hot or cold milk on cereals?

I was chatting with my father the other day and he was telling me that all he did in the kitchen was to use the microwave to warm up the milk for his cereal.

"You big poof!" I exclaimed in astonishment.

"What did you call me?" my dad replied.

"A big poof!" I answered.

After the initial shock of being called a big poof by his son, we had a discussion not about sexuality but milk on cereals. Dad heats up the milk in the microwave because he says that cold milk on his cereal is a shock to him. He does not like the shock that cold milk gives him and heating up the milk takes away the nasty shock. I think that heating up milk to put on any cereal is girly. Milk is a good, simple food that does not need to be heated. To be surprised at the taste of cold fresh milk is to act like a big girl's blouse. I think that warm milk on cereals is just for girls, not 77 year old men!

Place your vote in the comment box below.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Stickle Pike from Jennings of Cockermouth, Cumbria.

I had a pint of Stickle Pike, a beer brewed by Jennings of Cockermouth, the other day. What a lovely surprise it was to drink, it tasted so very different to other beers. I enjoy all real ales but sometimes you stumble across a beer that is so very different from all the others, that you are convinced that it is unique. Stickle Pike is very refreshing and is so full of flavour, it brought an instant sparkle to my eyes. It was so nice, I ignored the Marston's Pedigree and had a second pint of Stickle Pike. Only when I got home and switched on the internet did I discover that Stickle Pike is only 3.8% ABV! How Jennings have developed such a tasty brew at only 3.8% ABV is a big wonder to me. Generally speaking all beers brewed below 4.0% ABV are simply not worth having. These weak beers can be very bland, tasteless and quite frankly I would prefer a pot of tea. Jennings however have demonstrated that you can have a quality real ale with a low alcohol volume. Jennings have raised the bar with Stickle Pike and it shows they have the true craft of a brewer rather than an industrial chemist.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

2 for 1 on drains?

We are all accustomed to seeing banners outside pubs advertising 2 for 1 meals. We all know that these offers are not genuine and the menu price of these meals are inflated, so that at the end of the day you get 2 meals for a fair price. Yesterday afternoon I went into the staff gents toilets at the flagship Birmingham Coach Station of the nationwide company. There are 2 urinals to choose from and the right hand urinal has been out of order for a very long time. So there I stood using the left hand urinal and wondering just when the right hand urinal would be fixed. Maybe the polythene cover would be removed in time for the 2012 Olympics? I glanced down and noticed that my urine had not drained from the left hand urinal. What has it come to, I wondered?

This morning I went again into the staff gents toilets at the flagship Birmingham Coach Station. What a surprise I got! The polythene cover from the right hand urinal had gone, indicating that it was fit for service. There was no urine in the left hand urinal, so I used that bowl to check it was fit for service! My urine drained away, so clearly yesterday's blockage had been removed.

What has been going on here? The nationwide company had a defective toilet for a long time and they did nothing. Then they had 2 defective urinals and suddenly both urinals were fixed. Don't tell me the plumbers had a 2 for 1 offer. Have you ever heard of a 2 for 1 offer on drains? They are rather slow to put their own house in order but I have got used to this attitude from management during my 30 years of experience within the bus and coach industry. Nothing seems to change and all reported defects are generally met with the response "Oh, we know about that."

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sweet Heart by Peter James .

This novel has 335 pages and was written in 1990. The story is a spooky thriller about a woman called Charley who moves from London to an old house in the Sussex countryside. It is a lovely dream home for her but she keeps having feelings of deja vu. These feelings are very strong and disturbing for Charley. Her workmate persuades Charley to experience regression under hypnosis.

This book explores the concept of past lives, are they real or are they simply superstition and mumbo jumbo? The story moves on and after the regression under hypnosis, Charley sees her doctor. On page 253 Dr Tony Ross explains...

'Not these days, I don't want to worry you, Charley. All your symptoms are consistent with stress and that's by far the most likely cause, but I have to eliminate other possibilities. You've always suffered from stress and moving house is bound to have made that worse. I think that's almost certainly all that's wrong with you, but some of your symptoms are also consistent with a very mild form of epilepsy - temporal lobe epilepsy. Temperature changes in the body, sensory delusions, olfactorial illusions - the perfume, the burning - deja vu, your feelings of fear, depression, sleepwalking. Temporal lobe epileptics often carry out functions unconsiously, either sleepwalking or doing things when they are awake without realising it.'

...So, is Dr Tony Ross correct in his diagnosis? Charley has experienced all the above symptoms, is it due to the stress of moving, is she a temporal lobe epileptic or does she actually have a past life? Well, I will not spoil it for you and this book has a well written ending.

I enjoyed Sweet Heart, it is a good book and I will give it 4 stars on Book Army . Peter James is a good author and I really like his novels. He has a wonderful writing style, a style that just flows. Peter tells a good story giving the reader a broad experience. All the chapters are full of information and scope, this is not a narrow, focused story. There are many books to choose from in the shops by authors from all around the world. What you get from Peter James is a novel that is simply "awfully British" and it is a joy to read, plus all the words are spelt the British way!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

And it's back to Bradford!

WOW! it's been a confusing week for me at work. I have just now got my head around the changes at Treforest. Big changes have happened this week with the work my employer does under contract for the nationwide company. As a driver I do not have access to the full and true story of exactly what happened. I do not know how much money my employer gets for each journey it does for the nationwide company. What I do know is that my employer has lost 1 journey to Liverpool and 6 journeys to London every day. My guess is that this represents a staggering loss of around 40% of it's revenue from the nationwide company. To suddenly loose 40% of this contract is a huge shock to all the drivers.

Last year we had at Treforest a 28 line rolling roster, this has now been reduced to a 17 line rolling roster with the loss of 11 jobs. There have been no redundancies and no driver is standing spare. Word of the reduced workings had leaked out and some drivers have decided to jump ship and gain employment with other operators, some of them doing the actual journeys that our depot has lost.

I do enjoy reading thriller novels and this week has reminded me of Body of Lies by David Ignatius . In the book everything made sense until I got to page 378 and then I thought - WOW! what the hell is going on? I do not understand, this does not add-up. I am confused and I do not know what to think.

Body of Lies is a good way to describe exactly what has gone on recently at Treforest. Many rumours are going around the network about our future, there is tremendous speculation about what will happen and exactly why this huge 40% loss of work has occurred. Conspiracy theories about which dark forces are at play bother us and we all wonder who is onside and who is against us.

So, I decided not to jump ship and gain employment with another operator. I will stay at Treforest until the bitter end. My future at Treforest is uncertain and I do not know how long this new 17 line rolling roster will last. Things could stay the same, things could even get better or our whole contract with the nationwide company could be withdrawn without a moment's notice.

Putting all the rumours, speculation and conspiracy theories that I have heard this week together with my 30 years experience of working with buses and coaches, I think that the days of operating services for the nationwide company from Treforest are coming to an end. How quickly our depot ceases to operate these remaining journeys to Bradford and London I do not know. The end could be very near indeed, I may go on holiday in June thinking I have a job to come back to, only to find on my return that it has gone. Whatever happens, I will cross that bridge when I come to it.

What joys does this new 17 line rolling roster offer? Drivers will stay overnight in Bradford 14 nights over 17 weeks. Our earliest start at Treforest will be at 05.40 and our latest finish will be at 23.05 although it is at 01.50 on Friday's and Sunday's. This is rather different to the old 28 line rolling roster where the earliest starts were 01.55 and the latest finishes were 03.00 every day! We will now have more sociable working hours but we simply do not know how long our jobs will last. I really enjoy reading thriller and conspiracy novels but when it happens in your day job, it is no fun at all.

If and when my job comes to an end, one of three things will happen. I will do the same work as I do now but for another employer from another depot, I will do local bus work from Treforest or I will be made redundant. Until that day comes, I do not know which way things will pan out and neither do the other 16 drivers at Treforest.

Monday, April 05, 2010

"What is happening, dude?"

You tell me because I do not know, yesterday you said change of shift, go to Bradford on Tuesday, then today you said go to London tomorrow. Do you want me to start at 07.50 or 14.15 - or maybe you have known for 3 weeks that things were about to go pear shaped? Could you get a coach out of the depot within 45 minutes or is it a myth like the ability of your neighbour to launch battlefield weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes as claimed in the September dossier? Is this all a load of bullshit?

Lurkers to this blog, please leave your comments below!

Sunday, April 04, 2010

10 hot tips for a pimpin' book blog.

Over on Presenting Lenore , she writes "10 hot tips for a pimpin' book blog" - this blog post was written on the 1st April and is very tongue in cheek! I don't think it was meant as an April Fools Joke but she certainly pokes some very valid fun at book blogs. I particularly like hot tips numbers 1 and 2. Number 1 is for lazy bloggers who like every book they read, it creates a template so you only have to fill in the spaces! It does annoy me when bloggers gush widely about every book they read and only offer praise, when the book could be poor. Number 2 is about "snarksters", where bloggers try to out-do each other about how bad a particular book is. It seems odd to want to review a book just because other bloggers have slated it!

Lenore's post may have been tongue-in-cheek but look at the sheer volume of comments her post has received, magic!

Saturday, April 03, 2010


Looking at the sidebar on the right of this blog you will notice links to 8 other blogs that I find interesting. Unfortuneately Health and Safety News keeps coming up as "The blog you were looking for was not found.". It appears that this blog has not only stopped but it has also been deleted. So, what blog will fill the gap on my sidebar?

I have now added Wabby to my sidebar. Wabby is a topical blog written by a guy in London. His writing style is distinctive and this is his personal blog where he writes about a variety of things that gain his interest.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Good Friday eh?

So the Christians declare today to be Good Friday do they? Not only do they declare today to be Good Friday but they also move this day around the calendar. Non-Christians are left to wonder, when is Easter this year? Is this an early or a late Easter? What happened last year? To me, Friday is just another working day. So, on Friday I would expect Friday pay for Friday's work. But no, the nationwide company has decided that Good Friday is just like a Saturday. The nationwide company has declared that today is a Saturday service and as such I will be paid 30 minutes less for my shift.

Oh, thank you Christians, not only have you engaged in many wars against other faiths, mainly the Muslims but you have robbed me of 30 minutes pay today because you want to call today "Good Friday". Well, you might call it Good Friday but I have lost 30 minutes pay over your day of remembrance. This is not a Good Friday for me but a day of being paid 30 minutes less for bringing the same goddamn income to the nationwide company and my employer.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Sadly, another life has been lost through not wearing a seat belt.

A teenage schoolgirl who died when a coach carrying pupils to a theme park crashed during a blizzard was described as a "popular, fun loving and caring" young woman.

Natasha Paton, 17, was killed when she was thrown from the bus and trapped underneath the vehicle in a small river. She was only found after a head count revealed that she was missing. The bus was taking 39 pupils and five teachers from Lanark Grammar School to the Alton Towers theme park when it careered off a stone bridge in "horrendous" weather conditions. The bus was carrying sixth year students on an annual pre-Easter break and had travelled just 12 miles on snow-covered roads when the accident happened in the village of Wiston on the A73 south of Biggar, Lanarkshire.

It is understood that the driver of the bus was trapped and suffered a broken leg. Photoflash Coaches , the operator, said the roads had snow on them but "were not that bad" and the crash was caused by black ice. Police said the bus fell 10ft into a small river after crashing through the bridge parapet. Firemen rescued passengers through a skylight on the vehicle.

I am not sure but this may be a photograph of the coach before the crash as the window behind the driver appears to belong to a Plaxton rather than a Van Hool coach body.

For Natasha Paton to have been thrown out of the coach, she must not have been wearing her seat belt. This really saddens me when passengers ignore instructions and their legal responsibilities to wear a seat belt. Natasha has sadly lost her life through her own ignorance and the other 43 passengers have found that wearing their seat belt is not "Elf and Safety gone mad" but simply "best practice".

Every day throughout the UK, coach passengers ignore the instructions and their own legal responsibilities to wear their seat belts. It annoys me and most other coach drivers when passengers blatantly choose not to wear their seat belts. The driver has no authority to enforce the wearing of seat belts and all the coach operators want in the case of fatalities is to confirm that warnings have been given to passengers before the accident occurred. How many more avoidable deaths have there to be, before the coach passengers take the message on board, that seat belts save lives?

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]