Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Never knowing quite what to say.

Conversation is a strange dynamic between people. Conversation either flows or it stalls. Some people are chatter-boxes but even they are sometimes lost for words when the conversation stalls.

When people have an agenda to discuss, the conversation is a breeze and never stalls. But when people are simply hanging out with each other, the conversation can so easily stall. The risk of conversation stalling is increased when you do not know the other person very well.

Bob, a plumber who has just installed a pump for the shower in our home, was a very easy guy to talk to about plumbing. Bob decided to open the conversation out and I thought "bugger, what the hell can I say?" - I felt a little lost until Gail starting talking about people he knew from years ago. This illustrates the problem of never knowing quite what to say when a conversation stalls.

Even when you know people really well, the conversation can stall. My mother and father spent time with us this afternoon. Conversation in the supermarket is easy because it is about shopping. Conversation in the pub is easy because it is about the food and drink. But conversation at home is different, what can we talk about? I have known them all my life and they know me extremely well. There is not much more to say and will we be watching the clock until it is time to take them home? So there we all are, Dad with his newspaper on his lap, Mother with her magazine on her lap, Gail with her tablet computer on her lap. I thought it would be rather rude to start reading my Kindle so I put a sudoku puzzle on my lap. We then all had light conversations whilst doing something else on our laps, a kind of multi-tasking. This is not quality time in my view but is how the afternoon went. Even though we have known each other for donkey's years, the conversation can still stall and it is nobody's fault because conversation can go like that. That is the dynamics of conversation between mature adults.

What could you say to a one year old on his birthday tomorrow? "Happy Birthday Leo" would be a start but then what could you say? Sometimes I do not know what to say and I am no different from anyone else. Conversations can spark off so easily but they can just as easily stall. Anthony down the farm challenged me one day about why I had nothing to say to him. That was an easy question to answer, "I read the board, find the vehicle allocation and do my job. There is nothing to say and I did not want to bother you". He then realised that I was not off with him but did not talk just for the sake of it. Now I know he wants me to say "Hello Anthony, I'm okay". Thankfully he does not want me to debate with him about football, a subject I know bugger all about!

Sometimes bloggers get writer's block and do not know what to post but the above does not illustrate this. Oh and I read that Fabrice Muamba will risk a £5 million payout if he decides to pursue his playing career. Muamba insures himself to play football and his policy covers the rest of his current £35,000-a-week deal which runs for three more years. Now Muamba, who wants to play again, will have to give up on the payment if anything goes wrong as the insurance company reviews the terms of his cover.

So if Anthony is behind the counter at the farm shop tomorrow morning I know what to say to him and our conversation should not stall. However, if I bump into Matthew I should not mention Fabrice for obvious reasons!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Not Ken Again

I had a message on Facebook the other day, from my mate Matthew who works down the farm and also comments on this blog.

"please look at the there's also a fb page on him. give me yur thoughts please"

So, rather than send Matthew a personal reply and have an audience of one, I thought I would post my thoughts on natural yogurt for the whole world to read.

I first saw the Not Ken Again advertising poster a while ago whilst I was sat at traffic lights going into London. My gut reaction was to remember the URL and have a browse on the internet when I got home. I also wondered if there was a rival Not Boris Again website. Having looked at the issues involved, I kept them up my sleeve in case I wished to blog about them later.

There is no "Not Boris Again" website, only a Not Ken Again campaign.

I think that the Not Ken Again campaign is wrong, it does nothing for Boris. This type of negative campaigning is very American and is not the British way. Boris and his supporters have scooped the bottom of the barrel with their campaign to discredit Ken. Telling the voters what may be wrong with a candidate does not push the choice forward and is only playing dirty. The Not Ken Again campaign does not declare what Boris can offer Londoners. Campaigning in the negative will only increase voter apathy that will produce a lower election turnout.

Now I read that the RMT has started legal action against Boris Johnson over a poster allegedly portraying leader Bob Crow as "corrupt, venal and scandalous".

So the mud slinging has started and Boris started it first!

I think that both candidates would make a very good London Mayor. They have both served London really well in the past and if re-elected would lead London forward in these challenging times. There is little to chose between them, they both have good and bad policies depending on your income status. For the majority of Londoners, I believe that Ken is the best choice for them. For a very few, highly paid lucky individuals, Boris is their man.

If I was a London voter, then Ken would get my vote without a doubt. He is a good bloke with sound policies and a good political history when he was not afraid to speak up against the Labour leadership. Ken has not been involved in a dirty campaign to discredit Boris, he has simply gone around listening and answering questions. Ken has won the moral high ground from the Hooray Henry's.

Boris has done himself no favours by his negative campaigning and has shot himself in the foot on his way out of office. The next job for Boris will be presenting another episode of Have I Got News For You on BBC1 television which can highlight his 3 door New Bus for London.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

John Griffin has a point

The head of London’s largest minicab company says cyclists should think more about their own safety before “throwing themselves on to some of the most congested spaces in the world”. John Griffin, the founder and chairman of Addison Lee, blames the rising popularity of cycling for the increase in accidents and says cyclists should pay road tax. “Should a motorist fail to observe a granny wobbling to avoid a pothole or a rain drain, then he is guilty of failing to anticipate that this was somebody on her maiden voyage into the abyss,” he said.

This is fair comment and I would like to add my own. There are a group of cyclists in London who clearly throw caution to the wind. They charge around without any concern for their own safety and expect everyone else to take avoiding action. They pull in front of other vehicles and wear their vulnerability as a badge. "Don't hit me, I'm a vulnerable cyclist and if I fall off it is your fault". These aggressive cycling morons stampede around London with no sense of fair play or consideration for other road users. This problem appears worse in the late afternoon peak traffic flow along the Chelsea Embankment. We British have a tradition of queueing for anything but these cyclists are a race to themselves, like a herd of buffalo.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Trouble at the cash point.

I use a cash point once a week. I have done for years. Very simple, push the card in, follow the prompts, enter your PIN number, press a few buttons and bingo, out comes your cash.

It is such a routine task that you can almost do it in your sleep. You don't pay that much attention as you do it week after week.

So there I was the other day, half day dreaming as I put my card in and pressed the buttons.

"Oh bugger" I thought "what the hell is this?"

In error I had pressed the Dragon button rather than the Union Jack button and the display appeared in Welsh. I am English but have lived in Cardiff since 1991. I can't speak or read Welsh and there is no need to in Cardiff. None of my friends or family can speak, read or write Welsh. It would be pointless asking a passer-by if they could read Welsh as I doubt if anyone could. If the display was written in Hindi it would not have been a problem.

"Oh dear Stephen", I thought "if I get this wrong the machine may swallow my card".

"Take your time", I thought "pretend it is a game of Who Wants to be a Millionaire with a choice of multiple answers to choose from".

So I looked at these Welsh phrases and by a process of deduction decided which button to make my gamble on.

Chug, chug, chug and hey! bingo! out came my card, my card and a receipt written in Welsh. Result and a big sigh of relief.

Watch out, do not press the Dragon button as she will speak to you in a language you can't understand.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Don't Blame the Dog .

We watched the second episode of Don't Blame the Dog on BBC Three television last night. It is a documentary about British dog owners who have problems with their pets. Last night's episode saw 2 owners going to the Lost Dogs Home at Melbourne in Australia.

The programme was good and was just what you expected from the BBC. Not all dogs can be re-homed for various reasons. Some dogs are in such a poor condition that they have to be put down. We saw one little white haired terrier dog who had bad skin and hair problems. It's back end was dragging and the dog was clearly in distress. The staff at the Lost Dogs Home had tried their level best but this little dog had not recovered. It looked and behaved like a lovely family pet, giving love and moving around as it played on the floor. But the time had come and it was decision day.

The best thing to do was to end this dog's distress and low quality of life by putting it down. So our British dog owner had to pick the little dog up and carry it on it's last journey. She comforted the little dog as the vet administered the lethal chemicals and then checked it's lack of breathing.

As viewers, Gail and I had only watched this little dog for a matter of seconds in this television documentary. The vet did his job professionally and the little dog suffered no trauma. However we both shed tears as this dog was put down because this dog gave such trust to the staff at the Lost Dogs Home. It seemed such a betrayal of trust for this dog to be put down. We knew it was the best thing to do but it still felt as thought this dog was lied to and tricked.

We only watched this on television and it brought us to tears. The staff at the Lost Dogs Home have to make these life or death decisions every day. Yes, the dogs are put down with no trauma but you still have them on the table as they take that last breath. The dog did not ask for it but you the worker put the dog on the table for that last time. It can never be easy as that dog looks you in the eye and blinks for the last time.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Blood That Bonds (The II AM Trilogy) by Christopher Buecheler .

Two Ashley Majors is the central character in this novel. Two a heroin addict, she works as a prostitute and is living in a brothel. The Blood That Bonds gets off to a really good start as it describes Two's life and what it means to be a heroin addict. I was impressed by how well it describes her feelings using heroin and the darkness surrounding her existence in the brothel. Her work as a prostitute is sharply described, for example...

She and Molly were popular, as individuals and as a group. Two, with her large eyes, upturned nose, and small breasts, could pass for much younger than she really was. She received the clients who wanted to fuck a twelve-year-old, but who still retained some sort of conscience, some semblance of a soul. Molly’s clients, as far as Two could gather, had no soul at all.

...One night Two has a new client called Theroen and he wants Two to dress a certain way...

“Black panties, black socks, black pants, black shirt. Tie your hair back in a ponytail. Wear a gold chain. Make your pale-ass little white-girl face even paler. Black lipstick, dark eye-shadow, lots of liner. Shower first, and clean yourself well. One gold chain, no other jewelry. No deodorant, no perfume. He says it ‘disagrees with him.’ Don’t look at me like that, I’m just quoting him.”

 ...The Blood That Bonds is a modern vampire tale. It is a fun story that is escapism. There is nothing in this book to make you feel uncomfortable. The big surprise is the diversity among the vampires. They are not all the same, there are many different types of vampire, the equivalent to dog breeds. All vampires will bite but some are cute and loving, while others can be nasty pieces of work.

There is a humour in this book, dark but funny, for example...

“Naomi has never given blood to a man, Theroen. Would you like to drink from her?”
Theroen considered this. “I’m afraid I might kill her. I have never left prey alive.” Naomi’s eyes widened.
Lisette laughed. “You will do no such thing. Naomi is not your prey. She is my attendant. Or perhaps my soubrette. Sit down, Theroen.”

 ...The Blood That Bonds was written in 2009 and is available as a 497 KB Kindle eBook. This story has a nice ending and I shall be voting it 4 stars on Good Reads because it is a good book. I enjoyed reading this entertaining novel which poses a good distraction as you read this fantasy, although it does draw you in. Driving back from London late at night, I noticed a man, on his own, moving in the darkness past the pillars supporting the M4 motorway. My first thought was vampire! Don't be silly Stephen, I thought - but you never know as they may be out there...

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Review A Day

So, now that Wabby  has stopped blogging, I have been looking for a replacement blog to take his place on my right hand links sidebar. There are many blogs to choose from and now I have decided which blog to fit the vacancy.

I have gone for A Review A Day, which is a personal blog by Dan Bishop who has a mission to review something every day. He has a very varied range of reviews and is simply what rocks his boat on that day. He plunges in, pulls no punches and writes just what he feels about the product or service. I like his style and his blog makes me smile. There is something for everyone and his blog is certainly worth a look. You know how it is at work when one of your mates passes on good or bad points about something they had at the weekend - well, A Review A Day is just like that. Check out his review of a bouncy castle and the Tuck Shop Ice Cream Cake .

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Matt Lucas Awards

I watched The Matt Lucas Awards on BBC1 television the other day. What a load of rubbish this programme was, I shall not watch another episode. This programme was childish, tiresome and very shallow. It had no attitude and no style of it's own. It was like a watered down version of Room 101 but without the humour.

What this programme did show was the talent behind Little Britain must have been David Walliams as Matt Lucas is as about as creative as a bingo caller in The Matt Lucas Awards.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Another one bites the dust.

Sadly I read that Another one bites the dust. and it was not a April Fools joke. On the right hand side of this blog there is a sidebar linking to other blogs.

One of the blogs I link to is Wabby , a blog that features quirky stories from around the world. I have always liked his blog as it celebrates the joy of diversity and brings a smile to the internet surfer. It was a labour of love and whatever he found amusing, he posted on his blog. It was always entertaining and worth a view. But Wabby has now posted...

SUNDAY, APRIL 01, 2012

So long, bitches!

Sorry for not posting anything of late. To be honest, I can no longer find anything amusing in the media which I haven't already seen. Nothing surprises me any more! So this is me, signing out. I hope you have enjoyed the crap on this blog.


...So no more blogging from Wabby. It is a shame that many bloggers are giving up. Some have lost interest, others have become bored with the internet. Friends have migrated to social media websites like Facebook and Twitter where the trend is small but often. Bloggers tend to write lengthy posts and have a good old rant. Facebook users tend to limit themselves to a brief paragraph and Twitter has a strict 140 character limit.

This is a shame as I like the depth of content that bloggers publish rather than those small sound bites that Tweeters are content to publish.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Rotten Apple

This story simply stinks. The truth is out and the late Steve Jobs, a key figure behind Apple. maker of over-priced electronic consumer goods, was conspiring with publishers in fixing prices of eBooks. This nasty cartel was against the public interest and a free market. Now the public knows for sure how nasty Steve Jobs was with his greed for profit is trying to fix prices.

I am totally against the thought of fixing prices behind the scenes and this shows how big business takes the public for gullible mugs. Shame that Apple has such a loyal following but perhaps his customers have more money than sense.

So beware, that brand might be respectable but behind the scenes they will so gladly rip you off. It is bad that main stream publishers jumped into bed with Steve Jobs too. Hopefully the new breed of independent publishers can lead the way forward and leave this greedy, profit hungry publishers with unsold stock.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Tuckshop Ice Cream Cake

Gail and I went out to dinner yesterday to the Heron Marsh at St. Mellons on the eastern side of Cardiff. The Heron Marsh is part of the Flaming Grill Pub Co. chain. We have been there many times before but yesterday was the first time with the new menu.

The main courses are similar to what was on offer before but the surprise was the enhanced range of Puddings on offer.

I studied the menu and decided to go for the Tuckshop Ice Cream Cake . This is described as "Chocolate brownie base with layers of chocolate flavour mousse and clotted cream flavoured ice cream. Topped with mini chocolate rolls, fingers and chocolate orange sponge cake. Served with cream and chocolate flavour sauce." Oh, I thought, thanks sounds nice.

Well, the old adage is "the proof is in the pudding". My pudding arrived and my face broke into a smile, this baby is the one I wanted! Oh boy, what a pudding. This Tuckshop Ice Cream Cake was simply delicious. It has to be considered as a hybrid pudding, a kind of cross between a cheese cake, a gateau and an ice cream special. It is very different to other puddings on the market and is well worth the money. And the taste was faultless, everything I want out of a pudding. I have not had such a good pudding since our last holiday in Egypt last year, the quality of this Tuckshop Ice Cream Cake was just so good. The Flaming Grill Pub Co. have certainly raised the bar with this pudding.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

Occasionally mobile telephones are faulty and the owner will send their phone back to the supplier. They either get the phone repaired and returned to them or the supplier gives them a new phone. Sometimes things go a little wrong along the way as one Virgin Media customer found out...

I returned my mobile phone handset to Virgin for repair. When it came back it contained an MP3 download of a nine-minute extract from the Qur'an.

...But this story in the Observer has a happy ending...

One possibility is that it sent you back the wrong handset. Virgin has started an investigation with its contracted repair company but, without waiting for the outcome, sent you a new phone and six months' credit, worth £153, as a goodwill gesture.

...So it all worked out okay in the end and gives me an opportunity to post an alternative Easter Sunday message on my blog. Other alternative Easter messages can be read over on Bumpy Highway , a blog from a fellow PCV licence holder. He writes about the Walk of Witness and being a Christian but working on an Easter Sunday.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Twenty Twelve

Siobhan Sharpe is Head of Brand at the Olympic Deliverance Commission on the BBC television comedy Twenty Twelve .

The second series of Twenty Twelve has been running now for 2 episodes. I really enjoy this television programme as it really makes me laugh. This second series is just as good as the first, although it is rather short at only 4 episodes. There is little that I can add to my review on series one and again Siobhan Sharpe as Head of Brand has some great lines. Twenty Twelve is more of the same but in business, employees throughout the country get more of the same every month from management. Everywhere "the brand" is being refocused and polished. "The brand" is dreadfully important to management as a tool to brainwash both it's employees and the public. Siobhan acts this role really well and Ian Fletcher, the Head of Deliverance always gives those lovely sound-bites that make the Olympic Deliverance Commission appear on-target for a very successful London 2012 Olympics.

No matter how much spin is put out by management, things on the ground are not so good. Twenty Twelve is a comedy but it does highlight the bullshit that is put out for everyone to believe. The real 2012 deliverance team for the London 2012 Olympics could have real problems because of the 7.5 tonne weight restriction on the M4 motorway between junctions 3 and 2 eastbound and junctions 1 and 3 westbound.  The Highways Agency have now erected the correct signs, a white circle with a red border and the message "7.5T m.g.w" - so all buses and coaches have to leave the motorway and follow a lengthy and time consuming diversion in both directions. Above these weight restriction signs is the reason sign declaring "Weak Bridge".

These signs send out 2 messages. In Britain we have a class system, the higher class can use the motorway but the lower class must divert to an inferior route. Our motorway system is so badly built and maintained that the flyovers are falling down and can't even cope with twin axle buses and coaches.

Driving along the A4 in my coach, I quite often look up at the flyover and it's supports. This structure does look rather rough and I wonder what impression this gives visitors, especially those from overseas.  Our security forces are assessing a risk of terrorism at the London 2012 Olympics and before the M4 weight restriction I thought this was referring to the stadiums in East London. I may be very wrong and the real terrorism risk is actually not suicide bombers in a packed stadium but a couple of lads with a pneumatic drill having a chip at a bridge support along the A4.

Will Siobhan be able to rescue the public's confidence in getting to the events on time? Of course she can because Siobhan is Head of Brand and she has a Customer Charter, This wonderful booklet claims to be "Putting customers at the heart of our business". There are 12 parts to this Customer Charter and the magic is the wording within section 2. "Our aim is for all services to arrive on time - and never more than 30 minutes after they are due."

Well Siobhan, with this diversion away from the M4 motorway, all services are arriving more than 30 minutes after they are due. You may have published a smart glossy Customer Charter but it will not make the coaches run on time. Still the Customer Charter made me laugh but I do not think the passengers will find it funny.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

One amazing story .

Okay, I have nothing to do with drugs but I do enjoy a good story.

This is the story of Lucy Wright, a pregnant British drug mule who made an amazing escape from prison by swimming for 4 hours across a river. This is one great story of a very lucky escape indeed. She was arrested at Buenos Aires airport on 14 March 2007 after customs officers sawed open her suitcases and found packs of cocaine inside the metal frames. After being strip-searched, Wright was taken to a holding jail. "I was the only woman there. I was put in a cell with no door, just a man sitting in the door. There was no toilet; he watched me go on the cell floor." WOW!

The next day, she was bailed by a controversial new judge who believed foreign drug smugglers should pay their own way while awaiting trial. He may have regretted the ruling. She then set off on the 7,000-mile journey home, heading first to Argentina's northern border with Braziland reasoning that because Brazilians do not speak Spanish, they might not get wind of her escape. After catching local buses from town to town – a circuitous route from Córdoba to Mendoza to Salta – she eventually arrived in the frontier town of Puerto Iguazu. With no hope of catching a bus over the river Iguazu into Brazil without being arrested, Wright says her "fight instinct kicked in". Looking over the bridge, she says she noticed a big stretch of the riverbank on the Brazilian side that appeared unpatrolled. That night, wearing jeans, a top and flip-flops and with no luggage, she set off on the most treacherous leg of her escape – a four-hour crossing. "I waited until it got dark and waded in in my jeans and flip-flops. The river didn't look too fast-flowing, but it was silty and muddy. I came out covered in mud, but no one saw me. When I made it, I remember just standing there thinking: 'What do I do now?'

Read the full story in the Guardian , it is one great story indeed.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

The Penal Colony by Richard Herley.

Anthony Routledge awakes on Sert, a small island off the north Cornwall coast. He is a Category Z prisoner and has been sent to live the rest of his natural life on the penal colony. There is no escape from Sert and the prisoners are left to govern themselves, with no prison service staff on hand. Sert has developed into 4 very different communities. The most comfortable is the village and acceptance is strictly upon approval. The Old Town is inhabited by the roughest element of Category Z prisoner, whilst the lighthouse holds their rivals. The real outsiders are the wild men who live strictly on their own and roam about the island but keep away from all other prisoners living in the village, the Old Town or the lighthouse.

Anthony Routledge is the central character in this novel and he has been told the rules of how to become a member of the village...

“The rules of the Community are these. You will work as directed by the Father. You will not intentionally injure any member of the Community or damage Community property. You will not lie, steal, cheat, or engage in deviant sexual practices. As there are no women here, that means you are allowed to do nothing to anyone or anything but yourself. Do you understand the rules?”

...However, outside the village, prisoners are free and do enjoy gay sex.

The Penal Colony was written in 1987 but it is not dated. It is a modern day story and does not show it's age. I enjoyed reading The Penal Colony and it is a thriller. The story builds up and you gain the very real sense of isolation that Anthony feels. He has no hope in his future and is very worried about what is to come. I developed an empathy for Anthony who is stuck for ever to die on an island, where any one of the Category Z prisoners could kill him before his time.

The Penal Colony has an all male cast and much of this story is about male bonding. This book explores at great length how all societies work, how people gain and develop respect for each other and how the class system works. The reader, like the Category Z prisoners, is forced to put aside their prejudices and give each man a fresh start with a clean sheet and ignore the crimes of his past. This novel covers a lot of psychology and digs deep into what makes men tick, how values are adopted, what morality actually means and how communities really work. The Penal Colony is a social commentary that addresses a lot of problems that exist on mainland life.

When The Penal Colony was written in 1987, recycling was not a big issue and most of our rubbish was buried in land fill sites. The Penal Colony is a blue print for recycling and I have never read so much about recycling in a novel before. Everything on Sert was recycled, no matter how small, even if you thought the item was end-of-life. All this recycling was ingenious and added great colour to the story.

Richard Herley writes with a very wide vocabulary which included many medieval English words that I had to move my Kindle cursor onto to confirm the meaning. This added great character to the novel because the Category Z prisoners were living day to day like people did in the middle ages.

The Penal Colony is available as a 473 KB Amazon Kindle eBook, which is now selling for £1.98 although I downloaded it for free a while ago. It would have been worth the money as it is a good book and I will vote it 4 stars on Good Reads .  The Penal Colony has a good ending and the saddest part for me was when Ojukwu had his final words...

He heard Ojukwu speaking, using his name.
“What was that, Ojukwu? I didn’t hear.”
Ojukwu’s voice sounded feeble and very odd.
“I said, it was you, wasn’t it? It was you put that note in my pocket.”
Routledge was on the verge of lying. “Yes,” he said. “It was me.”
“We appreciated that, Routledge.”
“Ojukwu? What’s wrong?”
Ojukwu did not answer.
“You’ve torn your suit, haven’t you?”
When Ojukwu again failed to reply, Routledge knew that the attempt would have to be abandoned. The cockpit hatch would have to be opened, the lading changed: and for that to happen the ketch would have to rise and make itself known to the Magic Circle.
“Answer me, Ojukwu! Thaine! Thaine! Ojukwu’s torn his suit! We’ve got to get him on board!”
“Did you hear that inside?” Thaine said.
“Yes,” Appleton said. “I’m shutting the inlet valve now. Try to get him out of the water. We’ll break the hatch seals just as soon as we can.”
The handgrips were so spaced that the swimmers were set far enough apart not to interfere with one another’s movements. Ojukwu’s handgrip was about two metres along from Routledge’s.
“Can you help me, Blackshaw?” Routledge called out. He checked his safety line and began groping his way forward along the hull. Even before he reached Ojukwu’s empty handgrip he had guessed the truth. Ojukwu, the dying Ojukwu, had cast himself adrift.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Weighwatchers has finished!

On Friday Weightwatchers has finished because the weight restriction on vehicles using the M4 motorway between junction 3 and junction 2 eastbound and junction 1 and junction 3 westbound was been reduced to 7.5 tonnes. No longer do I have to guess whether my coach is running a shade under 17 tonnes, I simply have to follow the diversion along the A312 and A4.

This does add a lot to the journey time and there is the continual problem of exceeding driving hours. Because of the severe congestion this diversion causes, traffic was extremely slow coming out of London on Friday afternoon. The traffic was so bad that I could not continue even as far as Chepstow within my 4' 30" driving limit. I had to have a 45 minute rest break at Leigh Delamare services, near Chippenham, 1 mile past junction 17. When I finally finished my shift, I added up my driving time for that day and it came to an amazing 10' 12" - the legal limit is 10 hours, twice a week. My coach was due into Cardiff at 20.05 but arrived at 22.35 -  some 2 hours 30 minutes later than advertised.

Yesterday I drove for 4 hours 37 minutes to get to London - the legal limit is 4 hours 30 minutes without a rest break.

So on 2 consecutive days I have exceeded drivers hours regulations because of this weight restriction and diversions. These delays are not UNFORESEEN - I could have forecast these delays before I started work that day.

This is a big problem for the industry and a small minority of coach drivers are ignoring the signs because MMS - "my mate says" - that because the signs show a goods vehicle, the weight restriction does not apply to buses and coaches. Ignorance is no defence in the eyes of the law and these drivers risk being prosecuted for being overweight. There are no signs on the motorway showing that goods vehicles, buses, coaches and vehicles pulling trailers CAN NOT use the outside lane where there a 3 or more lanes. Any driver caught using the outside lane will and have been prosecuted.

So, now the onus is on bus and coach operators NOT to schedule duties where, due to the longer journey times undertaken because of this diversion, driving time does NOT exceed 4' 30" without a break and the daily driving limit of 10' 00" twice a week. Drivers have done their bit by reporting exceeded driving hours to their employers, now the employers MUST act rather than saying the driver is wrong, like they usually do.

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