Friday, December 30, 2011

A Week in December by Sebastian Faulks .

The rear cover of this books states...

London, the week before Christmas, 2007. Seven wintry days to track the lives of seven characters: a hedge fund manager trying to bring off the biggest trade of his career; a professional footballer recently arrived from Poland; a young lawyer with little work and too much time to speculate; a student who has been led astray by Islamist theory; a hack book-reviewer; a schoolboy hooked on skunk and reality TV; and a Tube driver whose Circle Line train joins these and countless other lives together in a daily loop. With daring skill, the novel pieces together the complex patterns and crossings of modern urban life, and the group is forced, one by one, to confront the true nature of the world they inhabit.

...This all sounds so very good but sadly it is NOT. Sebastian is not good at telling a story. The plot is shallow. You hope it will pick up or be different but it just continues to disappoint. Sebastian tries and teases by suggesting a plot where everything joins up in a climax that may involve a mystery cyclist but those are just distractions in this shallow and badly told story. A Week in December leads you to think there would be an explosive ending - it does not, it peters out into a sob.

I disliked the structure of this novel as it kept moving between the seven central characters. This switching loses the focus of this novel. I did however like the depth of each character, with their extensive thoughts and life experiences. But the workings of the hedge fund manager and financial systems may be out of scope to the average reader. The contributions of the book-reviewer in this book were good and entertaining. Overall I had little empathy for the characters. A Week in December is not a thriller or a drama. It is a social study that does not shock or excite the reader. Sebastian's writing is clear and polished, with a lot of class. There is some satire that is mildly amusing. For example on page 31...

John and his colleagues, with whom she was occasionally obliged to dine, didn't even look at the menu. They'd summon the waiter and tell him what they wanted.
'Right, we'll start with a plate of ribs in the middle of the table here. Then I want carpaccio of beef with a thin mustard sauce. What? No, I'm not interested in that. I want it very thin, with Dijon mustard in the sauce and a few green leaves, maybe rocket. Then I want roast chicken. No, I don't want coq au vin. I want plain roast chicken, lots of salt on the skin, roast potatoes, not small ones, proper size and cauliflower cheese. That's it. OK? And some gravy. No, not fucking jus. Gravy. And my friend will have a cheeseburger.'
'Sir, we do not have-'
'Yes, you do. You have filet mignon. Mince it up. Get a bun. You have a cheeseboard here. Look. It says here, £5 supplement! Get a slice off it. You can do it. It's what you do.'
It was worse when the heads of American banks were with him. Even when one of them had been persuaded to try something that was actually on the menu he would change his mind after it had been delivered and send it away again. 'Just bring me some clams.' 'Sorry, sir, we have no-' 'Here's £50. Go and buy some.'

...Another example really made me smile, it was on page 34...

In April 2006, he fired his head of Compliance, a Scot called William Murray. In theory, such a person was meant to ensure that every deal made by the fund 'complied' strictly with the rules laid down by the regulators. The word, however, lent itself to jokes; Steve Godley suggested that Murray had been fired for not being 'compliant' enough. In the push-pull dealings with Veals, Murray had pulled too hard: he seemed to have forgotten that it was Veals and not the FSA who paid his salary. The purpose of a compliance officer, in Veals's view, was to facilitate and to warn, in that order. If necessary, the third duty was to look the other way.

...Laughing out loud! This should ring a loud bell with all drivers of buses, coaches and lorries here in the UK.

A Week in December does not describe current day urban life in Britain very well at all. That award should go to Cross Dressed to Kill by Andrew Lucas , a far, far better book about British society today. A Week in December was written in 2009 and has 390 pages. This novel is a disappointment, I think it is poor and fails as a book. I shall vote it only two stars on Good Reads as I do not think other people should bother to buy a copy.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A glance in the supermarket .

It was like a scene from the movies this morning. I was shopping with my wife Gail in Morrisons down at Cardiff Bay. We were discussing the merits of buying a trifle, was it worth the extra and should we go for the sherry or the strawberry. I looked closely at the refrigerator and turned back to offer my wife an opinion. I leaned towards her to whisper that I thought the extra 50p was worth it and that we should go for the sherry.

Only problem was that Gail had moved away with her trolley to be replaced by another woman. My mind was focused on the trifles and I was not aware of Gail's departure. Our faces got closer when I suddenly realised that the woman I was going to whisper to was not Gail but some stranger innocently doing her shopping in the store. The woman laughed and quickly realised my mistake. She took this in good heart and joked to Gail that I was blushing because she thought I was going to kiss her. I was amazed at the swift change of position by these 2 women.

After this mystery shopper was out of earshot I explained to Gail that she was lucky because quite often in supermarkets I pat Gail on her bottom. Along another aisle Gail and I met this mystery woman again and we got chatting about biscuits. We had a nice friendly chat, compared notes, smiled and continued our shopping.

Back at home we had a laugh about the incident as we discussed it with Mam and Dad. Gail thought the woman was in her 40's but I claimed she was in her 50's and was clearly flirting with me. Gail spotted she was not wearing a wedding ring and I admitted she was rather chatty for a fellow shopper. I felt like a star in a romantic comedy. Of course, if I had have patted her on the bottom things may have turned out differently.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Off duty Gloucestershire police officer in kebab shop salad rage.

I am not making this up but people do get angry when they do not get a full portion. An off-duty policeman assaulted two kebab-shop workers following a row over salad on his late night snack. The 32-year-old, of St Swithins Road, Oldcroft, Lydney, who has since resigned his post with Gloucestershire Police, pushed a worker at the takeaway as he stormed behind the counter. And the officer then punched the manager, knocking him to the floor, leaving him with a cut to his head as he struck the counter on the way down. "He was questioning the absence of salad on his kebab: what a banal thing to start this. Initially they thought he was joking about the lack of salad."

People can feel cheated when they do not get the full portion. It is the principle rather than the quantity. You always get salad with a kebab, it is part of the meal. To skimp on the salad is simply mean and I can understand the customer's rage. It was wrong for the customer to go behind the counter and attack the staff but I can understand his feelings at the missing salad.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The rush to the sales .

Following the season of giving many people are rushing to the sales. Sometimes there is a siege mentality with shoppers as they surge forward to grab the goods.

Of course shopping in America is even more aggressive as crowds who had queued for hours rushed into stores to get their hands on a pair of Air Jordan 11 Retro Concords. Such was the competition for the black and white footwear, some shopping centres saw fights and stampedes. In Tukwila, a suburb of Seattle, officers had to use pepper spray to stop brawls breaking out in a crowd of up to 2,000 people. A police spokesman said the Westfield South Centre mall had entrance doors ripped off and 25 officers were needed to restore order.

This is all rather sad and shows how strong consumer demand can be, even for a pair of over-priced trainers.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

“It is not a question of whether the structure will collapse, it is a matter of when.” a source close to the Hammersmith Flyover project said last week.

There was gridlock in London yesterday when the Hammersmith Flyover was closed until further notice. Transport for London (TfL) has been carrying out temporary repair work in the 50-year-old four-lane stretch since October. A source close to the project told the Chronicle last week that the flyover, which links Talgarth Road and Great West Road, was not safe and 'could collapse at any point'. They said: “The severe level of deterioration isn't just bad, it's the worst kind of bad. The post tensioned strands are severely corroded and in some cases completely severed. “It is not a question of whether the structure will collapse, it is a matter of when.”

Garrett Emmerson, TfL chief operating officer surface transport, said: “Safety is our top priority so we've taken the decision to keep the flyover closed until at least early January while we undertake a full detailed assessment of the structure.

BBC presenter Chris Evans tweeted: "London is totally grid locked. Avoid West London at all costs. Never seen it like that."

One driver said it had taken four hours to get from Brixton to Hammersmith, while another said she had done six miles in three hours. The flyover - which normally handles about 90,000 vehicles a day - has been closed as internal cables which help to hold the concrete structure in place need urgent repairs.

So this will be a very interesting time with many coach drivers exceeding their 4 hour 30 minutes driving blocks due to the delays. I did not do too badly last night going into London via the A40 - I did just under 4 hours 25 minutes. Traffic coming out along the A40 was severely congested though. Coming out of London at 21.00 I took a chance and went through Kensington and past Olympia to Hammersmith with surprisingly no delays. I do not know how long the queue was stacked up along the Cromwell Road as you can't see past the building boards. It makes you wonder just how many unsafe flyovers there are around our country now this whistle blower has spoken.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Cowboys driving taxis in South Wales .

I have noticed for a long time now bad driving by taxi drivers in Cardiff. These taxi drivers are driving like cowboys, pulling out in front of traffic, making U turns, pulling in anywhere and blocking traffic and junctions. These cowboys are a disgrace to our city. I have often wondered with such poor driving standards, if the same cowboy attitude applies to their vehicles.

Well, South Wales Police Commercial Vehicle Unit, in conjunction with local authority Taxi Licensing Officers, have been conducting safety checks on taxis during the last fortnight to ensure vehicles are fit to escort passengers over the busy festive season. They stopped over 130 taxis and Chief Superintendent Cliff Filer, the Force Head of Specialist Operations said: “It is a cause for concern that 16 out of the 28 taxis stop-checked in Swansea city centre were issued with immediate prohibitions for having defective vehicles. These prohibitions ranged from defective lights, to defective tyres where cord and ply were exposed, and tread well below the legal limit." The checks in the Welsh cities included lights, tyres, first aid kits and fire extinguishers, and the drivers authenticated by checking their licence badges.

In Cardiff, 23 drivers were issued with deferred suspensions, requiring them to make prompt repairs to defects on their vehicles. 22 verbal warnings were also issued, including warnings for drivers who failed to appropriately display their identification.

So this just shows what a bunch of cowboys some taxi drivers are in South Wales. Their attitude to driving is reflected in their lack of concern over safety and vehicle maintenance.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Plead guilty and get just 2 years.

Beatrice Mawamba (Right) and Shamirah Grant Photo: ROSS PARRY

I was really shocked today when I read about the tragic death of 9 year old Shamirah Grant. Beatrice Mawamba, 34, was driving a green Vauxhall car when she careered down a narrow alleyway into a grassed children’s play area and crushed Shamirah Grant and injured two other girls, one seriously.

Michael Smith, prosecuting, said: “When challenged by the police, she was unable to say which pedal was the brake.”

In passing sentence, Mr Justice Openshaw said Mawamba was “profoundly ignorant’’ of the most basic driving skills. “She did not know how to apply the brake pedal; she could not find the brake pedal; she did not know where it was or what purpose it served.’’ The judge said that setting off driving when “so lacking the most basic driving skills’’ amounted to a “thoughtless disregard for the safety of others’’.

Mawamba, a mother-of-three from Chapeltown, Leeds, admitted causing death by dangerous driving. She was jailed for two years and banned from driving for five years and must take an extended test when her ban ends.

I am really shocked at the leniency of this custodial sentence, just 2 years for causing death by dangerous driving. Even Jacko's doctor got 4 years. Okay, there should be a reduction in sentencing when the defendant pleads guilty but 2 years for causing death by dangerous driving seems very lenient.

Following yesterday’s sentencing, Gary and Jennifer Grant, the victim’s parents, said in a statement that “Shamirah’s death has left a heart-rending gap within our family’s lives”. But they said they had “forgiven those present in the vehicle”, adding: “We appreciate that such a terrible event was not intentional.”

I do not think I could have forgiven Beatrice if it had been my daughter and sentencing her to just 2 years would have increased my grief.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The mess that people leave.

I am appalled every day at the mess that some people leave on our coaches. There is no need whatsoever for this mess and this shows what sort of passengers we carry. These people are so inconsiderate and lazy, they just drop anything on the floor that they no longer want. Chatting to drivers working for South Gloucestershire Bus and Coach, they really hate operating a relief coach on the Cardiff to London service simply because of the vast quantity of litter they have to pick up when the passengers get off. They have never experienced such a volume of rubbish left on their coaches on any other route.

It is really a demoralizing chore picking up the litter from these uncivilized passengers. However, some people can be really gross as this sign posted on the Nothing To Do With Arbroath blog shows.

Thankfully, our passengers are not that bad, although some disgusting mothers throw used nappies on the floor. But what is it with toilet tissue? Why do some passengers leave used toilet tissue in the sink rather than the toilet bowl? These stupid muppets are too thick to see that all our coaches have air flow hand dryers. Even if they are so daft as to try and dry their hands on toilet tissue, the place for the spent tissue is the toilet bowl and not the sink as a surprise for the next passenger or the driver to dispose of. Are their homes as dirty and litter strewn as their coach journey? Maybe...and I have my suspicions which are the dirtiest of all.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Is that right Paddy, you will fit that door when it comes in for a service?

Ah, that's right Paddy, the boys at Wrightbus in Northern Ireland could fit that door onto to New Bus for London at a later date! It is not just the Portuguese who can build funny bus and coach bodies which makes you wonder which planet they are on.

Enter the New Bus for London, with it's open rear platform. This has the support of Boris Johnson who said "Do bendy bus lovers want a British bus that is cleaner, greener, or a German-made bus unsuitable for British streets?".

No one else would buy a bus with an open platform, it was suggested, due to EU regulations. Johnson replied: "I believe the approach we have taken will be copied. This is not a hop-on, hop-off you Frogs, two fingers to Europe, just a simple commensensical approach to London's needs."

Eight of the prototypes will come into service early next year, with the first running on route 38 from Victoria to Clapton from 20 February. Officially it is the New Bus for London but, like London's Barclays bikes, it is eventually likely to be christened the Boris Bus.

Bus transport in London is a unique market and I can see why a different type of bus may be commissioned. Unlike the rest of Britain, London's bus routes are regulated, it is not a free market and open to competition. Transport for London run all the bus routes and the work is put out to tender. The passenger should never be aware of different operating companies and only see it as a "London Bus".

The rate at which passengers board and alight is different from all other parts of our country. London passengers get on and off at many different stops like an army of ants. In the rest of Britain buses tend to get most passengers getting on towards the city or town centre and alighting at just a couple of stops. The reverse is true in the outbound direction where most passengers board in the centre and they alight in ones and twos as the bus travels towards it's destination. A single door bus works well in the rest of Britain because of the one direction flow of passengers. In London with people criss-crossing the city, the need for a multi door bus is obvious.

As ever the only fly in the ointment, is the worry of lost revenue from passengers sneaking on for a free ride. And there are a lot of "them" in London remember!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I always said things are good. 

Walking our dog yesterday, I stood on the path whilst Barney was busy in the bushes. I was minding my own business when I was approached by an elderly couple. I have seen this elderly couple strolling around Ely before and their dress sense screams out God Botherers' to me.

Sure enough, the elderly woman offered me a leaflet which I declined and I advised her that I was an Atheist. She accepted this and declared that she was a Jehovah's Witness . We then had a brief chat about things and she claimed that things were bad and getting worse. I countered that I believed things were good, have never been better and living standards across Britain are at an all time high. She did not challenge my opinion and went onto another of the standard fayre that God Botherers' employ.

And I was right because today in the Daily Telegraph is news that UK living standards are the second highest in Europe in 2010. Living standards were 21pc higher in the UK compared with the average in the EU, the statistics office Eurostat said. In Luxembourg standards were 50pc higher. Germany took third place, followed by the Netherlands and Austria.

Individual consumption was used as the measure, often cited because it includes all goods and services that a household consumes, regardless of whether they pay for them. That way Britain's rating is boosted by public services such as health and education, which are largely government funded. Bulgaria was judged to have the lowest standard of living, 58pc below that of the EU average.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The end of an era 

Today marks the end of an era for National Express in Cardiff. Up until today, passengers had to present their ticket to a guy in the National Express office to obtain a boarding pass before attempting to board their coach. The passenger would then hand that boarding pass to the coach driver, give him their luggage and board the coach. When all the passengers had boarded, the coach driver would then return the boarding passes to the guy in the National Express office. The driver would then be handed a loading chart and he would walk back to his coach and drive away.

However, a lot of passengers ignored the writing on their ticket to "check in 10 minutes before departure" and had walked passed large signs written in English and Welsh instructing them to obtain a boarding pass before travel. These passengers would present their ticket to the driver who would tell them to go to the National Express office like naughty children being sent to the headmaster. This really annoyed the passengers because nowhere else on the National Express network must passengers check in to obtain a boarding pass. This procedure got their journey off to a bad start and left a nasty taste in their mouth.

All drivers like to get on well with the passengers but this boarding pass and check in procedure caused a lot of aggression, especially from passengers who were first in the queue but denied boarding because they had not checked in.

Thankfully from today the boarding pass and check in procedures have been abolished! Common sense has finally prevailed. Drivers will be issued with a loading chart in the same manner as at all other manned National Express sites. The driver will then be left alone to read tickets and load luggage, just like at any other National Express stop on the network. Everybody will be happy, nobody will be cheesed off at having to loose their place in the queue to obtain a bright plastic card. The same efficient boarding of passengers will now take place in Cardiff.

I have asked for the abolition of the boarding pass and check in procedure in Cardiff since 1997. It was always a waste of time in my opinion and I witnessed every day just how much it frustrated passengers. Thankfully today saw the end to the Cardiff Boarding Pass. The last laugh has to go to the guy who wrote the notice to staff. The reason he gave for the abolition of the Boarding Pass was...

Health and Safety issues.

There were too many passengers expected to check in at the relatively small office, that lack of space made health and safety an issue.

...No, I think the space is better used to sell tickets rather than play the boarding pass game. Tickets make revenue and checking passengers in creates not a penny to the bottom line.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Damaged Goods by Helen Black .

Accused of murdering her junkie mother and abandoned to a children’s home, 14 year old Kelsey Brand is running out of allies. Until childcare lawyer Lilly Valentine enters the picture…

Abandoned by her mother and placed in care, 14-year-old Kelsey - along with her younger sisters - is just another forgotten child of the state. Unable to cope with the care home's harsh regimes, Kelsey attempts to take her own life, leaving her horrifically scarred - and mute. Days later, the body of Kelsey's mother Grace - a known prostitute and heroin addict - is found butchered on a notorious Luton council estate. And Kelsey becomes a suspect.

Enter Lilly Valentine. A tough-talking Yorkshire lawyer with a heart of gold and a will of iron, Lilly has forsaken a glittering career to move south and help vulnerable kids escape the system. Determined to prove Kelsey's innocence, Lilly ventures into the heart of a dark city with as many secrets as problems. Prostitution, paedophilia, drugs and blackmail: Lily must put her own life at risk to save a silent, terrified child and find the real killer.

Damaged Goods is a crime thriller and was Helen Black's first novel. This book was written in 2008 and I purchased the Kindle edition of 520 KB.

Damaged Goods is a gritty novel, for example at location 188...

He removed her grubby underwear, fumbling on the frayed lace, and turned her around to front the camera. He stroked the pale contours of her torso, starting at the hip and snaking upwards. Her breasts were not yet developed, just tiny buds.

...and at location 4602...

A few seconds went by, maybe four, maybe five. Enough time for Miriam to check the room and leave. Enough time to be forced down onto the bed and bled like a halal goat.

...but is very easy to read. There is plenty of drama and this story is very entertaining. The pace is good and you develop doubts about 2 suspects. You wonder if Kelsey is actually guilty or if it is the work of a paedophile. Both characters have motive and circumstantial evidence makes them look guilty to the reader. Lilly meets a wide range of people as this tale develops and you keep guessing which way the story is going. But the search for Grace's killer is hard and Lilly has to cover a lot of ground. Lilly finds out important pieces of information that do not always lead to the killer but you will think for a while that they do. This big trail of discovery and the gaining of intelligence adds great substance to this novel, it is not a padded out story.

There are many plot lines running and it is not just about finding the killer of Grace Brand. There is great social commentary about single mothers, education and the care system, for example at location 5330...

Lilly glowered. ‘They’re not pets, you know. These kids have problems. They set fires, wet themselves and nick anything that’s not nailed down. I’ve one client who likes to masturbate at the dinner table with her chicken nuggets and another who keeps his shit in a shoebox under his bed. A few cuddles and a bedtime story won’t make it all go away.’

...The lead character is Lilly Valentine and the book is centred around her. Lilly leads a full life, she is a busy solicitor and a single mother. Lilly has great humour - for example at location 3714...

Lilly watched the smoke stream out of Candy’s nostrils and wondered if she had ever seen such an unattractive woman.

 , a good attitude and a strong work ethic. She is lonely though and there is a little romance in this book. If Lilly can't get a man then she falls back on chocolate from the fridge! Lilly is a likeable character and I warmed to her very quickly.

Helen's writing style is good and I particularly liked how British it is. Helen includes many local phrases and descriptions , for example at location 3963...

She raced to the bathroom, abandoning her clothes en route. The bath looked smooth and cool but she needed to be on a train in fifteen minutes and the Ferrari was in the garage. She made do with a Glasgow shower and squirted toothpaste onto her tongue.

...and at location 4957...

Lilly disliked his theatrics. As her mum had always said, ‘If a bird shits on your head you don’t stand under the nest and shout.’

...that simply bring this book alive.

The ending is a surprise and does not finish this book off very well. You then look back over the book and realize how many lines of enquiry were wrong and how the Police can be led astray. You then wonder just why the killer murdered Grace in such a brutal way. These questions are not resolved in print and you are left to make your own judgement as to why Grace was killed.

Damaged Goods is a good crime thriller and I shall vote it 4 stars on Good Reads .

I enjoyed reading Damaged Goods and I thought it was very good for a first novel. Helen dedicated this book to her husband Andrew and in the acknowledgements at the end Helen wrote ...

"Then there’s Andrew. Husband, best friend. When I mentioned I might like to write a book you didn’t laugh. You bought me a laptop."

...Well Andrew, I am very pleased you bought Helen that laptop!

Friday, December 09, 2011

Just get on with it, will you.

Spurred on by Matthew's jibe and my response about positive discrimination, here is a little post about getting on with life. Passengers travelling on our coaches love the front kerbside seats. These seats are in high demand because you get the best view out of the coach. You do not get the back of anybody's head, including the driver, you have the prime seat. Unfortunately the nationwide company panders to the disabled and all it takes is a telephone call and they have a front seat reserved for them. All the passenger has to do is claim disability, they do not have to jump through hoops. Passengers have cottoned on to this and are abusing the help offered by the company. They are claiming disability and the telephone help centre is printing a notice on the driver's loading chart declaring the front kerbside seat is to be reserved for this passenger. Never do you get a driver's note requesting the front offside seat, always the front kerbside seat. This is because the passenger claiming disability wants the best view in the coach and not to see the back of someone's head, including the driver.

There are genuine disabled passengers who have severe mobility problems. That is what the telephone call centre and front seat reservation is for. It really annoys drivers that the situation is routinely abused. I am not aware of ANY disability that physically requires the front kerbside seat. The front kerbside seat only has the PRIME view and nothing else. Leg room is actually less in the front kerbside seat.

On the Caetano Levante the front kerbside seat is actually the COLDEST seat on the coach because the radiator does not stretch that far forward!

So the passenger claiming disability then grabs the front kerbside seat and quite often tells the driver so that other passengers can overhear, it is for their reduced mobility. Shortly after sitting down they are up like a two year old confidently walking all the way to the back of a moving coach to use the toilet. Ah! thinks the driver, so much for reduced mobility.

I like it in cold weather when that person moans about the lack of heat, which is pre-set and thermostatically controlled and I can tell them about the lack of radiator provision but THEY chose that seat!

Of course genuine disabled people get on with their lives in the same fashion as this piglet in China. Born July 2011 to the household of Ge Xinping, who lives in Mengcheng County, Anhui Province, China, this piglet came to this world with only two front legs. It now weights more than 30 kg, and is hailed by local villagers as "Piggy the Strong".

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Ever wondered what those Chinese symbols mean.

Many women have tattoos on their lower backs, which have earned the nickname of tramp stamps. Quite often you see British girls sporting tattoos of Chinese symbols and you often wonder if they know what they really mean. They may have been tricked and their tattoo could really raise a smile to people who know! I wonder if one drunken lady had this tattooed on her lower back as an endorsement. That could so easily become an Urban Legend.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

I wasn't born yesterday.

Back to work tomorrow and the job is regular. Passengers present their tickets, I read them, say okay and the passenger boards my coach. The tickets for the nationwide company are easy to understand and are not a challenge. What made me laugh recently was what happened at the Cardiff University stop on Sunday. 

A male passenger presents me with his mobile telephone. It displays a message but not a regular mobile phone coach ticket. The message quotes a ticket number plus the departure time of 17.35 and arrival time of 20.50 - I  look at my loading chart and that ticket number is not featured. The passenger then declares that it was bought by credit card the previous night. 

I telephone Service Support and quote the ticket number. That ticket number is on the system but was a ticket for the 18.30 from London to Cardiff on the 4th November. The passenger then claims that he must have put the wrong date on the website when he bought his ticket and can I use my discretion and let him travel.

I hand him back his telephone and tell him that you can't book a journey on the system after departure time and that I know what he has done. He then asks to buy a ticket but sadly my coach was fully booked. What a silly man he was by not reading an old ticket properly and discovering that all journeys have a unique four character code. Writing a simple message with an old ticket number but the correct departure and arrival times does not fool anyone. To claim that he had made a mistake whilst booking was wasting his time and he may have well said "Sorry mate, I was trying to steal a free ride" and ran off in embarrassment.

I was not born yesterday, I can read tickets and I know how to spot a fraudulent ticket, it is my day job remember! Of course as you stood on the platform of my coach, the other passengers understood what was going on. They learned that you were a thief and where trying to steal a free ride. These fare paying passengers would have formed an opinion of you and this may affect their judgement when they meet another black skinned young man. This incident does not affect my judgement as I simply read the ticket and do not look at the passenger's skin colour, age or gender. Fraud is a problem on the coaches and we never know how great it is but this guy was so dumb it was very easy to spot. Now the passengers who witnessed this incident will view all black skinned young men with suspicion.

Hey dude, you have not done your brothers any favours by your silly scam!

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

The nuisance of jaywalkers.

Here in Britain we have the problem of jaywalkers. These stupid people just walk across the road in front of moving traffic and expect drivers to avoid them. In America it is a criminal offence to jaywalk and you can only cross the road at recognised crossing points. Sadly ignorance in Britain sees people crossing just where they like, often a couple of metres from a recognised crossing point. It is one of my pet hates, the ignorance and laziness of the jaywalker.

Refreshingly stray dogs in Bucharest, Romania show up the jaywalker by using recognised crossing points as they go about their daily doggy business.


Monday, December 05, 2011

I do like those low slung jeans on women...

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Workplace decorations.

What a shock I got yesterday when I went down the farm. I walked into the traffic office as usual and stopped in my tracks. What the devil is going on, I thought. The whole traffic office was decked out in Christmas decorations. There were streamers, ribbons, tinsel, lights and a tree. I thought I had walked into Santa's Grotto not a traffic office.

I said to Andy "Is there another office for Atheists to sign on?"

"No Butt, this is to get you into the Christmas spirit, don't you like it?" Andy replied.

I then told Andy what I thought about the commercialism of Christmas, that I thought all Christmas decorations were junk and that I do not believe in God or the baby Jesus.

I think these Christmas decorations have spoilt our traffic office and are a load of junk. It does not make the farm look professional but rather amateur. Thank goodness the nationwide company does not allow Christmas decorations on the coaches it hires to run the services. Christmas decorations may look nice in a children's nursery but they look stupid in the traffic office of the leading Welsh coach operator. I am afraid to sit down in the traffic office in case some joker comes in and sits on my lap thinking I am Santa because of my white beard.

I do not think there is a place for Christmas decorations in the workplace. They make any workplace look  untidy and unprofessional.

Comments as always are welcome in the box below.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Are you thinking what I'm thinking?

Tug, tug, tug, WHOOSH!

You don't get an invite like that very often.

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