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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.
Three weeks of winter mayhem they promised us. We do tend to get wintery weather second hand from the States, albeit weakened by its long journey across the Atlantic, and the news reports of deep snowdrifts over there certainly seemed to confirm our impending doom. So what happened? We've barely had a cold day and it's end of December. No white Christmas then. And now the weather warnings are telling us to expect more winter mayhem. In fairness it does seem that some of us are being stopped by snow. Is there any other country in the world so completely unable to cope with a few flakes and icy conditions? License To Kringe Someone at work said you can always tell it's Christmas when a James Bond movie gets aired on television. That might have been the case ten years ago, but high definition digital tv has pretty much destroyed the significance of MI5 and their loveable assassins in our xmas celebrtations. I'm suprised there isn't a James Bond channel by now. Or perhaps there is. I've got so many channels on freeview now that finding something I want to see is turning into anything between a desperate search for the lost entertainment and a nail biting agonising decision over which program is the one to watch. I never knew being a couch potato was so stressfull. Now I come to think about it, Christmas seemed to be a bit muted this year. Even my local supermarket didn't start their annual assault on the nerves with Christmas Hits Of The Last Century until they had two weeks to go. Just enough time to fit them in on a never ending loop interminably then. Not that I'm complaining mind you - one of their shop assistants said hello to me for the first time since I started shopping there twelve years ago. Just another step on my ladder to fame and fortune I guess. I don't know about James Bond movies any more, but certainly at Christmas there's a sudden outbreak of singing and busking. Sure enough this hapened just recently. A smiling rastafarian making the worst racket you've ever heard on some badly tuned tin drums, a small choir in the town centre who hadn't realised that singing in tune sounds better, and a down and out guitar player who repeats the same song over and over just to pass the time of day. It wasn't all bad. There was an amusing puppet mandolin player (the actual player was in an oversized backpack). Funnily enough there were none of these people around when a police car idled by along the pedestrian way. No Deal Of The Week According to the letter from the Department of Work and Pensions, they can't pay me the benefits I claimed from November. Cute. So I exceeded the terms of my Jobseekers Agreement by an order of magnitude, conducted a consistent jobsearch record even when I wasn't being paid for it, and accepted an offer of paid employment way below my level of skill, education, and experience. Worse, I suffered accusations of fraud, defamation of character, and found myself financially coerced into a deal that pretty much amounted to enslavement. Sorryy Eva, but you should have been honest. You reneged on the deal, not me. Lord Rail is back.
Bah! Humbug! it's that time of year when supermarkets try to get us to buy more stuff by playing Christmas Hits Of The Last Fifty Years over the tannoy. I asked a member of staff if the sound could be turned down - she walked away! I'm sorry, do you like Christmas? My Struggle With Earthy Girls Can't be bothered with all this Christmas rubbish. A young lady once told me that Christmas and New Year were the time of year when people are most likely to end it all. I didn't go out with her. But then, trying to go out with a woman is one of those things that very few of us are any good at but try anway out of some primeval urge to spawn more hapless generations that can't get off with a woman either. Here's a funny thing. People often sneer at sports car drivers and their apparent need to flaunt it because they've got it - I should know, I heard all the same comments back when I indulged in the cheaper end of the fast car market. Yet I found that women were attracted by the sight of my bright blue curvaceous and low slung speed machine. Not because of any extension of my physique (that's an unfortunate part of the male psyche), but because it suggested I was wealthy and successful (that's the unfortunate side of the female psyche - as much as hormones, pesonality, and physical attractiveness can spark our emotions, women do instinctively prefer a caveman to fill her larder, spawn her young, protect her from harm, and emable her deep rooted instinct to spend, spend, spend. Face it girls, you know I'm right) But flying aeroplanes? The kiss of death where girlfriends are concerned. Unless she happens to be one of the minority that actually like flying, most girls regard being in an aeroplane as a means either to be thrilled by adventure or to arrive somewhere interesting. Sitting in a grotty old Cessna for an hour, squeezed into a narrow cabin with a guy she hardly knows, subjected to the loud monotonous rasp and roar of a small aero-engine, feeling uninvolved in the entire process of getting from one place to another by air - she is quickly bored and can't escape. So unless you have access to a business jet and the money to reach a warm Mediterranean coast, the experience of flying won't make her think you're good in bed. Also, she will quickly realise that going out with you means she'll be sharing her bed with aviation magazines. What a great day to be flying. Isn't this fun? "Umm, Caldrail, we need to talk" Yes you're right. Hang on a moment Babe... "Eastwich, this is Romeo Juliet, overhead , routing south of London for Little Wimpton, over.... "Caldrail, I've been doing some thinking" Yeah? "I don't think you and I are going anywhere." No no, really, it looks slow because we're so high. Look, we're doing 90 knots. That's over a hundred miles an hour. "So is anything going to happen?" Nah, you're okay, flying is the safest form of travel..... What? Drunkard Of The Week It was all quiet in the early hours last night Drunkards don't like quietness, it disturbs them, and normally at some point there's a singing contest, football chants, threats of physical violence, appeals to lost girlfriends, or sometimes incoherent yelling. However, this time we got a treat. A drunk singing that old English favourite... I'm forever blowing bubbles Pretty bubbles in the air They fly so high Nearly reach the sky .... At which point he either fell over, bumped into a lampost, got squished by a passing car, found a friendly policeman, or considering how much alcohol was in him, did something extremely dangerous like try to light a cigarette. The residents sighed, pulled their blankets and duvets over themselves, and went back to sleep.