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Almost Christmas. I say that with a distinct sense of freedom and joy, not because it’s the festive season – Bah! Humbug! I say this because this year fate has spared me the usual barrage of Christmas songs. You know the ones I mean. All those songs that radio stations, supermarkets, and those not blessed with a sense of music play at this time every year ad nauseum. Hardly heard any of them this time around. Makes you feel good to be alive. A Noble Deed It’s going to be ten years since I became Lord Rail. All in all, it hasn’t impacted much on events, other than making a few people rather critical of me, including a couple of claims advisors, one of whom actually swore at me in public when I politely made him aware of my new found status. Another claims advisor attempted to crush my title out of significance with rather less rude language. They both failed. What next for the Caldrail autobiography? What can I do to offend conformity, advance the cause of individualistic idiocy, and generally make life a bit more interesting than visiting supermarkets at Christmas? Hmmm… Let me think…. Adopting Nature May I introduce you to Ronald? He’s a robin, the red breasted variety (although they do seem a bit orange rather than actually red), and has taken up residence at my workplace. Haven’t a clue what he finds to eat, probably subsisting on leftover sweeties when things are quiet. No food on the shop floor please… Okay, the boss is gone. But this is a bumper time for Ronald, because rules go out the door at Christmas as the boss brings in boxes of chocolates to reward us for a year of dedicated hard work and constant gripes. Seeing as this was the festive season, I suggested the company adopt Ronald as a mascot. I have no idea what Ronald thinks of this honour. He flew away. How Not To Get Home My last shift before xmas is done! Yahoo! Can’t be bothered to walk home in the rain so I opt for a bus. As much as I detest buses, even I have to confess they do come in handy occaisionally, like going home after the last shift before xmas. You could tell it was the festive season. Whilst I normaly have to wait ages for a bus to arrive, I had no sooner gotten to the bus stop when my ride arrived. I’ve long since learned to take my backpack off before getting on, but this not being a patient driver, I stepped aboard, pad the fare, got the ticket, and found myself entangled in the straps as I struggled manfully to fit into the seats. Slipping on the wet floor, cursing at the lack of movement, the bus accelerating and braking like an entry at Le Mans, boy oh boy, that was a test of manhood. I;m pleased to say no-one made any sarky comment at all. They must have seen me struggle before. What? Last Christmas? Oh heck, please let this not become an annual ritual…. Mammalian Connection of the Week A little while ago I finished a late shift and as I often do, I stopped at a lonely bus stop to rest for ten minutes before walking four miles home. The bus schedule finished hours ago you see. So I was there, guzzling my energy drink which I keep handy for such occaisions, when movement down on the pavement caught my eye. A fox! Not really that unusual, certainly not in that area with plenty of supermarket refuse bins to forage for food. This one hadn’t seen me, trotting happily along the pavement, looking in good health and really picture postcard perfect condition. Then it noticed my surprise. When you surprise a fox like that, some scarper immediately. Others freeze until they decide to scarper. This one froze. But it was odd. I was looking straight into that foxes eyes and expected the usual look of startled horror at encountering a shabby tired out human being. I saw something else. Although alert and poised to move as instinct demanded, for just a brief moment it looked as the fox was wondering if it could approach in a friendly manner. Scrounger behaviour rather than genuine friendliness, I’ve seen squirrels adopt the same begging action, but the sensation of empathy however misinterpreted is genuinely a deeply rewarding experience. Instinct got the better of it and the fox scarpered. Happy Christmas, Mr Fox.
"You've had a wonderful life" My claims advisor had told me, having gleaned that pearl of wisdom fom my CV. Of course like all CV's it merely accentuated the positive. All those disasters and mistakes over the years never made it to the final draft, never mind the interminable hassles that life forces us to endure. She was of course trying to win my approval for her state sponsored rebuild of my appearance, character, and history, in the vain hope I might actually become employable. Little did she know that my lucky rabbit's foot would strike again and I'd get a job by my own efforts, unemployable or not. Is my life wonderful? That's an interesting question. It is true I've done things many people never will, but then again, the price was high. I've lost out on many aspects of life that those same people take for granted. Okay, the decade of being an aspiring musician gave me some purpose in life. And the following decade of fast cars and flying aeroplanes was very enjoyable, thank you very much. The following decade of unemployable mediocrity and occaisional disaster hasn't been quite so fun, no matter what Eva believes. Is my life wionderful right now? Erm, no. I'm doing a job that is the most physically demanding I've ever undertaken, at a relatively unfit and unhealthy fifty plus. Not well paid or secure, either, not to mention being forced to use a bus to get to and from my home, which for me is tantamount to raising a white flag. Truth is I'm just not used to going home barely able to walk. On the bright side, I can of course thumb my nose at Eva, my domineering and ignorant claims advisor. Maybe life ain't that bad after all. Pallet Man Having to cope with my persistent cold means I've taken to imbibing some much needed Lemsip during my lunchbreak. I hate the stuff. True, it helps me get through the day, but the taste is foul. They say medecine only works if you can barely swallow it. Hard Hat, my afro-carribean colleague who believs NASA overlooked him in the race to land on the moon, noticed I was getting abit drowsy. He generously offered me a can of some energy drink or other. I don't usually have much time for the stories of how these drinks affect people, but ye gods, that on top of Lemsip did the trick. I feel myself changing... Growing stronger... Stand back mortals. I am now Pallet Man, superhero and defender of the oppressed warehouseman. Up up and stack 'em! Wonderful Life Of The Week Right now I'm sat at a computer cubicle at my local library. Next to me is the same guy I always seem to be sat next to, irrespective of when I actually sit down for a couple of hours. He looks sort of like Bilbo Baggins evil twin brother. I wouldn't ordinarily take any notice but he talks to himself all the time. I get a running commentary of his internet activity. Almost as annoying as BFL, and the last time she sat down beside me (obviously losing a struggle with Gibbering Baggins for that accolade), she very loudly proclaimed what she was doing and moaned when she couldn't. It's been several years and she still hasn't got the message that I'm not interested in being her best friend. That lady who moans about my presence at the library moaned at me again today. And last night, a lady on the bus demanded to know where I got my travel pass from. Why, the bus fairy, of course. All I have to do is lay down a large sum of cash on a particular desk and it magically appears in my hand. Easy.