Working from home

Many people have offered their thoughts on today’s London Underground (aka, The Tube) strike. Here’s my own look at this particular aspect of the world

Today it took about 4-1/2 hours to get from Oxford to Westminster which, by any productivity measure of 21st Century public transport, is a truly stunning performance.

Tomorrow, to mitigate against another journey of epic fail proportions, I shall be deploying that little-used, but oft-considered tool in my armoury: working at home. Just you watch my personal productivity bounce.

But for today, because of my late arrival in, and early departure from Westminster (even though the start and finish points in my journey times were the same as usual) I feel guilty at billing for a full day’s work.

So I’m going to book today as a half day and take the 50% pay-cut squarely on the chin.

I briefly wondered whether I could claim the missing 50% as a donation to the RMT union.

Dismissed the thought.

I wouldn’t be paranoid if they weren’t out to get me…

Someone somewhere is out to get me today.

There is a tube strike in London. Whilst I have a fleeting pang of compassion towards my fellow London-bound commuters it is swamped by an overwhelming feeling of regret because the traffic levels will, inevitably, be much higher.

Adding substantially to my already long commuting time.

Buggerit.

But there is an extra complication.

Last night on the M40 a tanker of some sort caught fire. Even though the Fire Brigade dealt with the incident quickly, the heat from the blaze was so severe that sections of the motorway surface have melted.

And that, inevitably, means an extended closure of the M40 whilst the surface is cleaned and repaired.

So, as I type this, my fellow passengers and I are nipping down various country lanes of Oxfordshire/Buckinghamshire trying to bypass the closed section of the M40.

Adding substantially to my already long and already added-to commuting time.

Buggerit.

Again.

Still, the music’s nice.

When I started writing this it was Foals and Heavy Water. Right now it’s Heather Sullivan and Cold Day in July.

The Hardest Part of This is Leaving You

The annoying little bastard boy in the seat behind wants to die.

Not a big deal as things go.

I believe we should all have the right to decide when and where we go and if he, at the ripe old age of, ummm, three, has come to the undoubtedly correct decision that his life is so unbearably futile that he’s going to end it by topping himself on this particular Oxford Tube by spinning wildly out of control down the aisle of the bus to smash in to the panelling at the end every time the driver touches the brakes, then that is his right.

However.

His mother, who is sitting on the opposite side of the aisle to him is clearly culpable in the act of his demise and that, I believe, makes her guilty of some offence or other.

Look people, the rules are simple – and were announced by the same, tired old announcement that this service makes every single day, and they were announced over the PA not fifteen of your earth-minutes ago.

Put your fucking seat belt on. It is the fucking law you idiot fucking imbecile child from hell.

Ah but no, my friends, this one knows better.

Seatbeltless, he rattles around in his chair and in the aisle as he passes a word-puzzle magazine to his equally mentally defective grandmother in front of him – she is sitting next to me.

Yes, the child’s mother and his grandmother clearly want the little spawn of Satan darling to die.

Isn’t that murder?

Look dears, why don’t you just fasten the seatbelt around the obnoxious little bastard’s throat waist and then granny can just face forward instead of spinning around in her seat like some kind of a bad extra from The Exorcist.

And then I can have some peace and quiet and stop bothering these lovely people on the internet with my bad language.

Thank you.

A woman gets on the bus

no, not an incredibly sexist joke

Victoria, the starting point of the homeward leg:
The woman got on the bus and, in heavily-accented Eastern-European English said to the driver, ‘A single to Oxford Street please.’

‘We don’t go to Oxford Street, we go to Oxford.’

‘Yes. A single please.’

‘Where to?’

‘Oxford Street.’

This had all of the hallmarks of turning in to an episode of comedy gold, but sadly some interfering old busybody kind soul who was already on the bus walked up to the woman and addressed her in her own language. I assume the conversation went something like this:

‘Look Tovarisch me old mucker, the driver wasn’t dealing you some bull, we really don’t go to Oxford Street in London. We go to the city of Oxford in Oxfordshire which is a fucking hugely long way outside of London. It’s so far outside London the place is surrounded by cows and fields and shit. If you want to go to Oxford Street you need to walk down there a bit and get a different bus. If you want to go to the city of Oxford and stare at the many magnificent bosoms that are on display on fine, sunny days, then just get on this one. OK?’

Evidently it was not OK because the Babushka got off.

But the ‘going home’ anecdote doesn’t end there.

Grosvenor Gardens, the second stop:
The woman got on the bus but the driver stopped her straight away.

‘You can’t bring hot food on the bus. You’ve got a McDonalds bag and that’s not allowed.’

‘But I want to bring my food on.’

‘You can’t. You either have to put it in the boot or catch the next bus.’

‘Can I put it in the bin?’

‘Yes’.

She made a move forwards.

‘You have to put it in the bin out there, not the bin on the bus.’

‘What?’

‘Put it in the bin out there or catch the next bus. It’s a company rule, no hot food allowed on the bus.’

The woman walked out to the bus stop and fumbled around then walked back.

‘You’re not getting on the bus. I saw you in my mirror; you’ve just put the bag of hot food in your handbag.’

‘I didn’t!’ she said with maximum indignation and outrage.

‘Right, well come here and I’ll have a look in your handbag when you get your purse out to pay me.’

‘Oh please. I’m starving. I haven’t eaten since 8 o’clock this morning.’

‘You’ll have to catch the next bus then’.

‘Eat my shit.’

And with that parting comment straight out of the Emily Post book of etiquette, our charming, would-be mobile food nosher stomped off the bus over to a wall against which she leant while she extracted the bag of illicit hot food from her handbag and bit, angrily, in to her burger which she chewed venomously.

And do you know what I say?

I say Well Done to the driver for holding his ground and for not letting her browbeat him in to submission. Well Done Mr Oxford Tube driver.

Mind you, this rather triumphant exchange took on a nasty flavour at Hillingdon where a passenger got on, paid and took their seat clutching a bag of hot food from Burger King.

I do wonder if the change in the driver’s attitude is anything to do with the difference in passengers.

The first person was short, female, black and in her 50s. The second person was tall, well-built, male, shaven-headed, broken-nosed and in his 20s.

Now who are you sneering at? Yeah, me too.

That was then, this is now

I am having the time of my life, and I should explain why I happen to be sitting here chuckling loudly whilst sharing secret glances of mirth with a couple of my fellow passengers.

Do you remember the passenger from hell I sat opposite one morning a few weeks/months/lifetimes ago?

Well things have moved on. It’s now 17.00 on Thursday 7th May 2009 and… she got on to this coach a few minutes ago!

But before she got on she had an argument with the driver over the stowage of her folding cycle in the luggage compartment (which is, naturally, accessed from the back – and outside – of the coach). It’s the place where folding bicycles are kept – she knows this – so I’m guessing the altercation was because the luggage space wasn’t to her liking today.

But the truth is I don’t really know what the cause of the argument was. I also don’t know what words were said. I only know that she flounced in to her seat (not opposite me thank fuck!) with all the grace and temperament of a four-year-old having a major temper tantrum.

This behavioural trait should come as no surprise, given the ‘I was here first’ comment that she snarled at me the last time we crossed swords.

Eeww, now I’m having a homosexual image which involves seeing her undressed and showing off her enormous cock. No Bren, snap out of it. She *is* a cock!

Anyway.

Once she’d flumped in to her seat she began unpacking her rucksack – firmly in Spoilt Brat mode.

She retrieved and banged down on to the table item after item. A red biro, a bright pink felt pen – she clearly likes writing in noticeable colours. I bet she underlines everything several times too! – a Dennis The Menace water bottle (I kid you not!), a reflective cycle vest, a pair of headphones…

Dennis The Menace, I should add for those who aren’t aware, is a character in a children’s comic called The Beano.

There was a brief pause in the unpacking and banging while she retrieved, with awful grace, her Dennis The Menace water bottle from the other side of the table – and the territorial waters(!) of the poor sap lucky man sitting opposite her. Her aggressive body language managed to convey that it was *his* fault her bottle had rolled towards him.

Our eyes caught – mine and his – and we sniggered.  Errant water bottle safely retrieved the unpacking and banging continued until the Holy Grail of All Rucksackdom was retrieved: a piece of scrap paper.

With a great deal of flourishing she uncapped the red biro, peered at her watch twice and wrote what I presume was the time of day on her scrap of paper.

Then she proceeded to glance over her shoulder and sent many Vulcan Death Glares at the driver. I wanted to ask her to desist – he was driving the bus after all – but her Vulcan Death Glares are obviously as defective as her sense of humour gene.

With what I presume was the date and time safely recorded, she retrieved a large sheaf of papers in a plastic display envelope before putting almost everything else away.

With some kind of mental balance restored she proceeded to scribble – with the pink felt pen – on various pages of paper. The bundle resembled how a pile of college assignments might look while they were awaiting a grumpy tutor to mark them. Except…

I managed to catch sight of a logo and a name and I think I know – or at least have a very good idea – who this childishly petulant adult works for. I could name that organisation but I think I’ll give Bluefrog a break. I mean, it can’t be easy working with this adult-child of far-too-frequent tantrums.

After a little while she paused in her scribbling and started to struggle out her zipped up top. Then she stopped her struggling, undid her seatbelt and tried again. She is more successful this time. We exchange a knowing glance, the guy opposite her and me.

I am stunned to see that the top part of her lycra cyclewear is a Beano (the children’s comic!) design with a larger-than-lifesized image of Dennis The Menace leering outwards in a slightly disturbing manner.

I stifled a smirk but not before I caught the eye of the poor unfortunate opposite her. He grinned back and we have formed, I believe, a conspiratorial partnership, the sole aim of which is to derive some joy from this little girl/adult woman.

I glanced outside for a while and when I tore my gaze away from the picturesque scenery that is the fucking awful hell of roadworks that Shepherd’s Bush offers the western quadrant of the United Kingdom’s capital city (nice work London), I noticed that she was alternating between making notes on the sheaf of papers with her red felt pen and highlighting text with… a bright pink highlighter.

Her short, manish hair and schoolteacher glasses are uncomfortably at odds with the view of Dennis The Menace leering out of her chest.

She paused in her literary work to retrieve an apple from the Rucksack of Doom. She bit at it and chewed in small, circular mastications that she somehow managed to make seem… mean.

A used paper tissue is retrieved; she wiped the excess apple juice from her lips and continued with her annotations.

As the journey progressed she appeared to become calmer. The pink highlighter and pink felt-tip pen did their work.

I am amazed that such a character (probably) works for an organisation that declares of itself: (we are) a group of people who come up with amazing ideas that result in a better world for all of us to live in.

The thought that perhaps it isn’t just charity that begins at home occurs.

I ache with longing to take a photograph of this 40-something woman to share with you, but there is no opportunity for such subterfuge.

Another day, perhaps?

Sorry I’m late, I needed a poo

A long commute can be very beneficial. I get free WiFi, a 13 amp socket, free breakfast, free copy of The Independent and sufficient space to crack on with some work.

It’s not all fun and games though.

Toilet activities.

I mean, although there’s a toilet and a basin to wash your hands afterwards, you really wouldn’t want to sit in there and lay a log, would you?

You really wouldn’t.

But because the travel time is lengthy, it’s important that one doesn’t start the journey when there might be something, ahem, in the pipeline.

On those occasions I stay at home longer than I would until business gets *cough* taken care of.

So boss, I’m sorry I was a little tardy this morning.

But believe me, I feel so much better for it.

I’m thinking about unusual clothes

A couple of hundred years ago I used to have a pair of flairs (or was it flares?).

Not the namby pamby flairs that the kids of today occasionally sport. These were serious flairs. Premier League flairs. These were the Liverpool Football Club or Manchester United Football Club of flairs.

These were flairs that had been unpicked on the side seam and had extra pieces of material sewn in to make them the uber-flairs that were so stylish (way back when dinosaurs walked the face of the world).

They were grey, these flairs. And pinstriped. But denim. And jeans.

What I used to wear with my King-of-all-Flairdom jeans was a pair of tan leather boots, a little like riding boots but not quite, a white, long-sleeved cheesecloth shirt and a very long, blue, patterned waistcoat, made out of cotton. With tassels on. A bit sort of Hendrix-ish. Or so I thought.

I was so cool.

Man, the chics loved me

And so did the ducks. And the hens. But that old cockerel, he had a suspicious look in his eye whenever he caught sight of me if I was dressed in my Saturday best. Or so I thought.

But the girls?

Nah, they thought I dressed like a freak, even if I did think I was the coolest thing in the known universe.

That’ll be why I didn’t lose my virginity until I was 35*.

The reason for this period of clothing recall is because the 20-something student-type who just tried to hop up on to the bus in an athletic manner, fell flat on his face. He tripped over his flairs.

It’s a good job he wasn’t wearing a pair of uber-flairs. He might have killed himself.

* Some or all of these statements may be true. Or untrue. The management reserves the right to rearrange the facts at will, at their leisure and in a way that is solely calculated to cause the maximum of confusion to anyone who attended any of the same schools that I did at the same time as me. Thank you.

I am apparently a real day starter

So the day begins with the usual run from Oxford in to London. And we have the customary table for four – two seats facing forward, two seats backwards with a table between.

There are two people seated at the table, at opposite ends of a diagonal. In the aisle seat – facing backwards – is person ‘A’ whilst person ‘B’ sits at the window seat facing forward.

As I walk down the aisle person ‘B’ comes across as a selfish cunt. Instead of using any of the normal luggage stowage places, person ‘B’ has put her rucksack (slightly smaller than the Isle of Wight) and cycle helmet on the seat next to her.

And woe betide you my boy if you dare ask her to move any of her belongings  so you can sit down because if you do she’s going to puff and faff and huff and generally not do anything at all until person ‘A’ graciously steps out in to the aisle so that you can sit in the window seat beside him.

She loves huffing and puffing does person ‘B’.

Then, because there are things to be done on the way in this morning, you get out your laptop. But alas, person ‘B’ has claimed ownership of the entire half of the table that is nearest the window. Unfortunately this declaration of UDI in the world of tableness includes the quarter of the table that I want to use. Correction. That I am going to use.

But not if person ‘B’ has her way, hatchet-faced, vinegar-expressioned hag that she is. But not old. Not in an absolutely ancient kind of way. Somewhere in her forties. Thin. Half-framed glasses. Short hair. A bit academic-ish in a schoolteacher kind of way.

Anyway, back to the battle of the laptops.

Person ‘A’ objects to me reclaiming the quarter of the table that goes with this seat, she holds her computing technology firmly on the table, occupying the entire space and says to me (are you ready for this) ‘I was here first’.

Fuck you love, that’s a mighty strange value system you’ve inherited from your screwed up family. Or perhaps you made it yourself.

Of course I don’t actually say these things, they merely course through my head towards the snarky bitch.

‘Why don’t we share the table, half and half?’ is what I actually say.

‘That’s not going to work is it.’ She says in what is definitely not an interrogative delivery.

‘You’ll break my laptop’, she adds as I open the lid of my Dell to 90 degrees.

‘Well, it works every other morning. Why should it not work this morning. Are you that special?’ I ask.

‘Ooh, you are a real day starter’, she said. As she retrieved her laptop back behind the halfway line – or where a halfway line would exist if one was drawn on the table.

The look on this woman’s face was pure venom; spite and hate which she punctuates with even more huffing and puffing. I put my iPod earbuds in and drown the cow out.

Oh dear. I’m so upset. :)

Like!

I am hating the passenger opposite me. I started to hate her even before I sat down.

She built her nest on one of those two seats facing forward/two seats facing backward/table in the middle arrangements.

How can one girl in her late 20s occupy all four seats and the entire surface of the table?

So I indicated I was going to sit opposite her and asked her to move her stuff. She did, but she tried to kill me with a look.

You failed love.

Then I set out my laptop on the table.

She tutted and started to move her stuff from underneath my laptop – which I graciously lifted to allow her to (begrudgingly) make some space. And then she tried to kill me with a look again.

You’re still in the failing category love.

Then she like made like a phone call like.

Imagine a really plummy – but affected – accent:

Oh hello Briony (I hated her for that too) it’s Jasmine here. [drones on in plummy voice for some minutes and then...]

Well I don’t like know where to get orf like. I imagine it’s like the High Street? No, I’ve never been to Oxford before. Yah. Could you send me like a text? With directions?

By this time my loathing is accelerating upwards through the gears quicker than a Lotus.

OK like. I’ll see you around eight. Yah, bye.

When she cleared the table she left on it what I can only describe as a large covered dinner plate (LCDP) – the covering is some kind of raffia affair tied with the Bluebird insignia that, to me, signifies… Toffee!

I’m telling you this because the LCDP is sliding around on the table as the coach navigates the highways and byways of London village.

There are many twists and turns on the highways and byways of London village.

If the LCDP slides in to my laptop just once – just ONCE – more I’m going to stand, pick the thing up, walk the length of the coach, dump it in the bog and flush it.

She keeps steadying it and then, because she has the attention span of a goldfish, removing her steadying hand.

And then it slides again.

Steadying hand.

Steadying hand removed.

Slide. Bang in to laptop.

Steadying hand.

Steadying hand removed.

Slide. Bang in to laptop.

FFS!!!!

And she’s chewing her nails.

Actually… no, that’s not accurate.

She’s dining on her nails. I think she’s on her third course by now.

Hey – nailbiters – do you know how singularly unattractive you look when you’re massaging the inside of your mouth with your fingers?

I hate her.

Have I said this already?

No, really. I loathe her.

Self-centred doesn’t even come close to describing this stuck-up little bitch. She’s so far up herself she could lick her tonsils from her arse.

Flick!

Oh-oh.

We’ve developed a new mannerism.

Flick!

The hair toss.

Slurp!

There go the fingers. Straight after the hair toss, the fingers head right for the mouth again.

Ooooh, she’s so scrummy!

And the thing is – because I’m a guy I’ve got a detector and I can tell these things – she absolutely LOVES herself.

I’m going to get my phone out and video her and put it up on YouTube so we can all have a laugh and a groan at her expense.

Damn.

It’s a bit too dark in here.

Bugger.

Flick!

Slurp.

Steadying hand.

Remove steadying hand.

Slide. Bang in to laptop.

Steadying hand.

Flick.

Slurp.

Slide. Bang in to laptop.

OMFG!

She’s removed the LCDP!

It’s now on her lap.

Flick.

Slurp.

Hand on the table.

Hand on the window-ledge.

Flick.

Slurp.

Do you know how many germs you’ve transferred in to your mouth?

Twenty-six billion zillion quadrillion.

Die bitch, die!

Have I mentioned that I hate people today?

Tit!

So the girl over there? She’s feeding her offspring.

I’m on the coach, a couple of minutes ago teen mummy got on with her two sprogs (one is about 18 months the other is maybe three months) and plonked them down.

I recall that when she got on she bought just one ticket. So the two offspring travel for free? What a con.

When I’m the Supreme Ruler of the Universe I’ll reverse that little earner. Those little gits will have to pay 10 times the adult fare, not travel free! We can’t have toxic little yobs (I don’t care how young they are!) screaming and yelling and puking and having tantrums in the company of peace and quiet-loving adults. Like me.

Anyway, teen mummy sorted out her sprogs and got out enough stuff to indicate she might have just bought out Mothercare. The whole chain not just one store.

And then she hoiked up her jumper, hoisted out one of her milk-engorged mamaries and slapped the leaking tit in the mouth of the younger of her two little brats.

Now look, there’s something wrong with this picture and I’m trying to work out what it might be. Can you help?

But while you’re pondering, let me give you another thing to consider.

If I whipped out my digicam and started snapping off photos of her breastfeeding the newer output of her too-active reproductive organs, am I doing something wrong?

Am I?

Because the next question is:

If I’m doing something wrong in taking a photo of her exposing her breast in a public place, why the hell is she exposing herself in a public place?

What’s the crime? Taking a photograph in a public place?

Because if your answer to the question is ‘yes, in taking a photograph of that woman exposing her breast in a public place is wrong’, then where’s the crime of ‘taking a photograph in a public place’ on the statute books?

I’ve got news for you, that crime doesn’t exist; it isn’t a crime.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not offended by teen mummy getting her tits out in public; I have no sense of indecency and therefore have no values of decency to get bent up about.

I was just wondering if teen mummy knows the situation she’s putting herself – and her younger offspring – in?

And is she perhaps aware that photos of her tits could be all over alt.binaries.pictures.erotica.breasts.sucking (or on facebook or on youtube) in the time it takes me to press the ‘send’ button?