Thursday, December 06, 2018

On the Face of it

You have to be careful when speed reading on the internet. I was glancing over the news headlines on The Guardian website and saw the following:

That's really good, I thought, basing my snap judgement entirely on the headline and ignoring the bit below. Yes, once upon a time chefs were indeed acne-ridden and spotty. The stresses of the job and the easy temptation to pick at leftovers caused all sorts of facial eruptions. But now a generation used to healthier eating and mindfulness has conquered the pustules and cysts; they can march proudly past the Clearasil on the chemist's shelves and casually scratch their chins without a care.

I even had time to ponder the thoroughness of the Michelin inspectors. Not only do they chomp through banquets of the finest food, swill down the best wines and select the most succulent of the petit-fours in case they feel a bit peckish on the way home, they actually go into the kitchens with a notebook and inspect the visages of the chefs for unsightly warts, boils and pimples. A job for a person with a strong stomach in both senses of the phrase.

Alas, no sooner had I constructed this fascinating image than I realised my mistake, reread the headline and noticed the space after "black". Back to reality.

Monday, December 03, 2018

Dr. Commuter advises ... Boris Becker

Dr. Commuter writes:   This is a sad case. Boris Becker, the teen-age golden boy of tennis back in the 1980s, has not enjoyed similar success with the management of his finances and has been contesting a bankruptcy petition in the English courts. Unusually, his defence had constituted a claim that he had diplomatic accreditation from the Central African Republic and hence immunity from the court action but he has now dropped the claim.

This is not the fighting spirit that won young Becker three Wimbledon titles. The CAR may be a strange refuge for a famous German but there are plenty of other countries to try. Why not declare yourself to be a ship and register in Panama? You can feel free to break any laws you like as you move effortlessly round the world, informing Customs and Coastguards that they can't touch you without creating a serious diplomatic incident. Of course the downside is having to live in a dock.

Or, if you feel you'd like to get chummy with an Australian, team up with wikileaker Julian Assange. I'm told there's plenty of room in the Ecuadorian embassy broom cupboard and you can spend many happy hours arguing about whether Goolagong would have whopped Graf and how to make bratwurst out of wallabies.

Leaving your clothes on a beach and turning up somewhere else in the world has worked for some but may be a bit overworked these days. Perhaps the tried and trusty Saunders defence is the answer - drool a bit, let your hair grow unkempt and forget everybody's name. The court is bound to accept that you have irreversible dementia and let you off. As soon as you are free you can carry on just as you were before and they can't lay a finger on you.

Anyway, whichever strategy you use, do keep in touch. If things turn out nasty here at Commuter Towers, I may be joining you in that cupboard.


If you have any questions for Dr.Commuter do please write to us at the usual address. Ambassadors are welcome as long as they bring an unfeasibly large tray of chocolates with them. Representatives from the Holy Roman Empire have left it too late, sorry. Terms and conditions will be waived upon receipt of a suitable emolument conveyed in a diplomatic bag.

Monday, November 26, 2018

We Have Been Here Before

Some things change and some same exactly as they were. Some fourteen years ago this very column was established with a principal aim of documenting the daily irritations of commuting. At the time my normal journey was on the Piccadilly from beautiful Ruislip into West London. Typical pieces like "New fares, old problems""Communications and Stupidity" and "Not a good morning", to select just three examples from the many penned up to late 2006, expressed the frustration of coping with cancelled trains, trains that were supposed to go to one destination but which were rerouted to another, utterly inadequate information and blatant lies about there being a "Good service" or only "Minor" delays.

This evening a fellow commuter let rip with precisely the same complaints on precisely the same line, indeed at the same station (Acton Town) where many of my pieces were born.

This tweet was one of about ten fired off  by "Lofty" this evening but the picture says it all. A crowd of weary commuters standing on a cold platform waiting for a train when they should by now have been well on their way home.  His invective includes the staff, although to be fair they are as often in the dark about what is going on as the passengers. I went through exactly what Lofty went through one grim evening back in October 2005 and you can read all about it in "Having a Laugh"

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Dr. Commuter helps ... Justin Bieber

The following snippet in today's paper has inevitably been drawn to my attention.

Dr. Commuter writes: -

Young idealistic people often wish to emulate the charismatic 1st century preacher but it is harder than they may think. Firstly, young Justin, you need to spend a huge amount of time studying the Torah and its many commentaries, such as the Talmud.  Fluency in biblical Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek is essential. At least ten years in a theological college should get you started. You will know you are on the first step when you have sufficient knowledge to leave eminent rabbis, who may have spent an entire lifetime on such studies, gasping with your wisdom and deep understanding. But this is merely the beginning.

It is time to start your ministry. Go out into the world and preach the basics of Judaism, just as Jesus did. Gather some disciples who will revere you for your teachings rather than your ability to wear a baseball hat back to front, impressive though this surely is. The occasional miracle may help convince the waverers but be sure to have several independent camera operators on hand to silence the sceptics.

Long robes and sandals are, I think, optional these days and riding an ass into town will be awkward - there are so few suitable parking spaces available - so a low powered motor scooter is acceptable. Oh, and give away all your worldly wealth. Sorry, I should have mentioned this at the beginning. This means all the cash, the houses, the jewellery, the shares in Apple, the Bitcoin stash and the rights to all your musical recordings and writings. Everything, my son, everything. Call me back when you have done this and we can continue your education.


If you have any questions for Dr. Commuter, religious or otherwise, do please contact us at the usual address. Dr. Commuter does not claim to be infallible but does come pretty damn close. Terms and Conditions apply, especially concerning the fate of your immortal soul.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Tube English - 6 Serving

Well, I never. I've been forced to resurrect a sequence from ten years ago, back in the days when I travelled daily on the Tube. I cannot claim any credit for spotting this one, it was delivered to me wrapped in brown paper and ribbons on Twitter, but it is worth logging here where it will be stored somewhat more permanently.

I don't recall the use of the word "serving" in this context before. They used to say things like "there is no service", which refers directly to the trains or "services are suspended" which is the same thing but somehow more elegant. How a train service can serve a station is hard to fathom. You can serve a meal (to a person). You can serve at tennis. A server, in computer terms, can supply data to a client computer that requests it. Service, in the context of the Tube, is supplied to the passengers. What I think the hapless tweeter meant to write was "Piccadilly trains are terminating at Rayners Lane, passengers wishing to continue toward Uxbridge should change there for the Metropolitan", as the BBC Travel tweeter nearly managed to say.

Anyway, as I don't commute any more I shall go on serving up vituperation and contumely from the comfort of my office at home, whilst wondering if dear old Milton was a commuter and whether he might have penned the following

They also serve who only stand and wait
For a non-running service that, if it ran, would be late