Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A blizzard remembered

A year ago I was writing about the big freeze. It had been uncommonly cold since the end of November. On 18th of December a blizzard shut the UK's airports. A couple of days later the ice was still thick on the platforms at Neasden where I was forced to detrain. Ah, but that was a year ago. Today we bask in temperatures close to double figures (Celsius). It promises to be a sunny warm Christmas.  Manufacturers of thermal underwear are gloomily contemplating the long drop from their top floor windows. Drivers of ice-cream vans are whistling while they polish up the giant plastic cones with which they are adorned (the vans, the vans, ok?). Thomas Cook closes high street branches because, let's face it, why go abroad for winter sunshine when you can swelter in beautiful Ruislip without the risk of earthquake/ferry disaster/tsunami/wildfires/collapse of local economy/violent overthrow of dictator/insert your choice of calamity here, there's been plenty to choose from in 2011.

They've brought in a new timetable for the Metropolitan Line. As far as I can tell this now means having clusters of Uxbridges and then Watfords, with fast Cheshams in between. The changes have produced much debate on the District Dave site but this commuter has yet to see much difference. There are rumours that the introduction of the new "S" stock trains has slowed. This could mean that the dear old "A" stock continues to provide much of the service well into 2012. In which year I will mark a full 50 years of travelling on them, because, dear reader, I started regular train travel in September 1962 as a bare-kneed, cap-wearing schoolboy shuttling between Preston Road and Northwood Hills. There cannot be many forms of transport that have provided a half-century of continuous service. Or indeed people who have used them over that period. Maybe I shall receive some sort of long-service award [I expect something can be arranged: Ed]

Friday, December 02, 2011

Nothing up my nose, officer

Wonderful quote in this morning's Guardian. As I don't commute on Fridays any more (or most days, come to that) I feel I have the time to share it with you. The story is that some 11% of British banknotes have traces of cocaine and a drugs expert from the Kent Police, PC Adrian Parsons explained how the fuzz go to work when they think they've found a white-powder merchant in a crowded pub.

"You can spot people in the queue who when they get to me its 'game on' that they will provide a positive sample," said Parsons. "They are louder than normal people. They are non-stop talkers. They are arrogant and feel invincible. They are happy to ridicule bystanders who are not part of their group, particularly police officers. They are jaw-clenching, sweaty, with clammy skin. They are extremely paranoid, especially if you try to look up their nose, and have eyes the size of saucers. These are the symptoms we teach police officers to look for."
It was lucky I was not drinking tea as I read that deathless line about looking up people's noses. It would have spattered all over the paper. Anyway, the scene is a crowded pub in Kent and a loud, talkative. sweaty jaw-clencher is at the bar whilst a gent with a raincoat and notebook crouches at his knees. The lines just write themselves.

Jaw-clencher: "Eight pints of triple X love and have a double vodka yourself. And pass me that napkin, I'm drenched here"
Plainclothesman: "Sorry sir would you mind just flaring your nostrils a little"
Jaw-clencher "What the hell are you doing? And wearing that stupid coat in here, you look like a nonce, you pathetic little worm"
Plainclothesman "Please don't ridicule me sir, I'm only doing my duty. It's bad enough you staring at me with those huge saucer-like eyes."
Jaw-clencher "You're out to get me! All of you. You're all out to get me!!"
Plainclothesman whispers into microphone sewed into lapel "I think I've got one, Super."
Jaw-clencher "Do your worst, copper, you'll never pin one on me, Captain Superbo, the toughest man in the galaxy"
Plainclothesman "That'll do nicely sunshine, you're nicked"

with grateful thanks to Michael Frayn in whose satirical footsteps I am not worthy to follow