July 5th, 2007


he is not tony

I've been battling a thumping cold for the past few days, and yesterday the cold won and I spent the day in bed, alternately dozing and staring in wide-eyed horror at the nightmare that is daytime television, but I did get to watch Gordon Brown's first Prime Ministers' Questions live from the Commons.
It wasn't quite what I - or, I suspect, anyone else - expected. If Gordon thought he was going to get an easy ride he was mistaken. David Cameron came out swinging, and so did Menzies Campbell, and somewhat to my surprise Gordon faltered. If anyone's interested, there's more
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The company which runs the trains I commute on is run by a bunch of clowns. Not the good clowns, but the bad ones. In the past six months I don't think I've had more than twenty or twenty-five days of completely trouble-free commuting. It really saps your spirit when you leave work at just gone five to embark on a journey which at best should take about fifty minutes, and don't get home for two hours. Or when you drag yourself off a train in the morning with your face rearranged after being crushed against the doors by the sheer number of passengers crammed on.
In order to run more services, they've been taking the odd carriage or two off other services, I suppose the theory being that by taking two carriages off two six-carriage trains they can put together a whole four-carriage train and the passengers will be stupidly grateful. They are extremely keen, though, on ticket inspectors. We have lots more ticket inspectors since they took over the franchise, oh yes.
Anyway, last weekend the ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces came into effect in England, and the train companies decided to push the envelope of the ban by outlawing smoking anywhere on any of their stations. Now, the station I commute from is not enclosed. Apart from a couple of garden shed-sized shelters, it's a howling expanse of open asphalt. The only place on Earth I can imagine being less enclosed is the North Polar icecap. And yet smoking has been banned there. Which annoys me.
But what really annoyed me was going home on Tuesday night and hearing over the public address a recorded message telling us that `for your comfort and safety' smoking was not allowed anywhere on any of the company's stations.
This information was relayed to us just as a six-carriage train (formerly an eight-carriage service) pulled in, packed solid with people because the previous train had been cancelled due to `a fault' and I wondered, just idly, whether the evil clowns who run our trains ever think about the `comfort and safety' of the people who're forced to  travel like this or if it's just all some cosmic joke.
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