Sunday, June 21, 2009

Bus Drivers

Well, who'd have thought? Within the last couple of weeks I have twice found myself running for a bus just as it was about to pull away. Guess what happened...On both of these occasions the bus driver stopped, opened the doors and actually let me on! This is First Bus! In Leeds!

Maybe they've had a training course or had rear view mirrors fitted. Perhaps I was just lucky. Maybe we'll reach a point when this will not be worthy of note. Anyway, good news for once.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Car Clock

Apologies if this has been posted before, I can't remember and I can't be bothered to check...

On our old car you changed the clock by grabbing a sticky - out bit and twiddling it until the clock showed the right time. It even had little buttons for making fine adjustment. Easy, intuitive, mechanical (even though it was electric – you know what I mean) – and no problem. Now we have a new car. It is not possible to change the time on the clock! Not possible. The manual even admits it might not be possible. The car does all kind of stuff automatically (to the extent that if it breaks down a mechanic is the last person you want around) but you cannot set the clock to the right time!

The person or people who dreamt this up are probably still working in the motor industry. Why is there not a rebellion? We also have a spare tyre that only goes at 60km or something. Oh, and all the useful boot / back space has been neatly walled in with plastic so the car is much bigger but doesn’t have actual usable room – presumably we’re only allowed to use the small square space because we’re not qualified to stick things into nooks and crannies. I’ll be wanting to just open the door with a ‘key’ or wanting to wind the window down myself at this rate. Too late, sorry! And yet it takes the manual 15 pages to explain all this convenient simplicity!

I found out after writing this that with 20 minutes reading, a copy of the manual and half a dozen people you can actually set the clock to the right time! You can feel very proud of yourself - until you turn the ignition off when the clock sets itself to the wrong time again! Hurray!

Hand-washing Hand-wringing and the BNP

People keep sending me links to the 'not in my name' petition about the BNP. What a horrible whinging liberal thing this is - 'oh, like I'm terribly sorry but like, I didn't, like vote for them'. Yeah, you sign to say 'I didn't vote for them'. Great, that'll show Nick and the lads eh?

Maybe you didn't vote for them, but do you think signing a hand-wringing hand-washing petition will make any difference? We all know that most BNP supporters are those grey, pinched ugly people with no dress sense who smell a bit looking for someone else to blame for their unhappiness and lack of success in life. However, due to the fact that there is a lot of social injustice about (thanks New Labour for widening that class and income gap!) there are more of these people and they're fucking ignorant. So, you have to actually talk to people and learn stuff and put it about - and if you actually put some effort in rather than whining to your Guardian reading friends you might just prevent some people with legitimate concerns about political correctness and equality etc voting for the BNP.

Incidentally, the BNP are wide open on what they probably see as their home turf - patriotism. There's no more fun to be had than chatting to a potential BNP supporter quoting stuff about our glorious boys sticking it to the Nazis and quoting Winston Churchill's proud defence of the English as a 'mongrel race'.

Having said all that there's a great bit in a Woody Allen film where someone is talking about taking on Nazis via a great letter to the New York Times, while Woody is more inclined to actually get down there with baseball bats.

Finally, it is difficult to convince anyone that the BNP are Nazis when they're not allowed to give the salute openly and be overtly racist and the rest. This means that they should either be allowed to be publically racist so people can see them for what they really are or you need to have arguements ready that concede that they may not all actually be racist at all - there's plently of madness to go at, you just have to find the right bits. In the end not that many people are really so stupid you can't talk to them.

So...uncle John says jaw jaw not bleat bleat - and have that baseball bat to hand if its needed. Mind how you go now...

Oh how I lurve Firstbus!

I got on a bendy bus in Leeds recently. Someone has decided that since we can’t have trams they can sell us buses that ‘look a bit like trams’ and we’ll all be happy. However, I got on just as the doors were closing and was told off by the conductor (conductress? – can you say that these days?) for getting on the ‘wrong door’.

It has ‘exit only’ printed on it in small letters apparently. For some reason I’d neglected to search for door signage when getting on the bus. She said that some drivers make you get off again and get on at the other door. She may have been joking but since I’d spoiled the Firstbus drivers’ favourite game of shutting the door in passengers faces and driving off perhaps they do get cross enough to do this. Oddly, when the bus stopped it was OK to get off at the entrance door. I did explain that I thought it worked like a tram and I nearly asked her for an explanation of what anyone gained by only allowing you to get on at one set of doors. I didn’t. This is probably best. I decide to murder all those that stopped us getting trams instead. At his rate that film with Micheal Douglas getting more and more wound up and more and more violent due to frustration at idiots and their ways will soon by my favourite thing ('Falling Down' I think its called).

Oh Lordy, its the Council again

I go swimming most Sunday mornings at a Leeds City Council Pool. I naively thought that a) they’d want people to actually use the pool and b) they were providing some kind of service (paid for by my Council Tax and income tax). However, they’ve come up with the perfect wheeze to keep people away, cause them maximum inconvenience, generally annoy them and presumably prepare the case for closing pools down. What they do on a Sunday is this – they open up in the morning for an hour and a half. Then they kick everyone out and close the place for half an hour. Then they open again for an hour and a half and then close again for half an hour kicking everyone out - and so on throughout the day!

So, realistically you can only get in to swim during a small number of periods of about ½ an hour (maybe 45 minutes) during the day. If you get this timing wrong the pool will either be closed or about to close before you’ve had chance to actually swim. Presumably staff are paid when there’s no-one in the pool to pay their wages – and everyone gets to the showers and changing rooms at the same time.

The only hint as to what twisted logic they’ve used to come up with this system was a comment by the receptionist about swimming being made free for children – I think it may be do with ‘managing demand’ (of which in real life there is precious little) by making sure people don’t turn up and swim for hours (like they do, obviously).

Basically the only people who can go are the organized compliant types who don’t mind being pushed around by Leeds City Council for its own convenience and who can get themselves and the kids up and out on a Sunday morning without any time slipping by in any nonsense ‘let’s try and relax its Sunday morning’ kind of way. The toilets still stink by the way.

Can you imagine Tescos pulling this sort of stunt? Presumably they could do with some catch-up time and shelf stocking time if they got busy, but would they just close the shop for random half hours during the day? Actually no, I guess not. Mind you they probably don’t close their cafes at 3.30 on a Sunday afternoon when everyone wants a cup of tea either – that’s the Council again. To be fair, it’s a bit later in the summer – ‘bout 9 o’clock any good for you? Nah, 4 I think. Everyone’s back home 7 hours before it gets dark in June obviously.

It has occurred to me that I could and should write letters and phone councilors and whatnot. Unfortunately I have stuff to do so won’t get round to it. I shall just continue to harbour hate and contempt for the Council and Firstbus and the rest of them.


I ordered something off ebay recently and its delivery was delayed. I got a note of apology from the seller. It said:

"Hi, I went to the post office today to post the cd and unfortunately they had a power cut and were unable to accept any parcels. Please accept my apologies for this..."

Now in what kind of a world can a post office not accept a CD in an envelope because of a power cut? Do they only have android counter staff who all shut off when there's no power? Do they not have a 'non electric space' where they can put stuff down? Do they not have stamps and weighing scales? What would they do in a real emergency? Actually because they're all so swish and modern these days they don't have stamps (they print out labels) and the scales are all digital - presumably because the old ones could be used and understood by customers. So when the power goes off the whole thing stops - not exactly the spirit of the blitz.

Mind you there's virtually nothing these days that doesn't need a computer and electricity to work (except it doesn't actually work very well of course). I say bring back hand cranking and scales with weights and clockwork, erm, clocks and cars that will start with a handle and all the rest of it. We could even have back up card index systems. One big bang or disease or weird computer bug and everone will starve to death for no good reason because nothing works. Doors won't open and cars won't move and all the rest. We are so totally dependent on this stuff that we would have no idea what to do if anything big went wrong. Everyone would be bleating for the 'emergency services' or 'the government' to come and sort everything out for them and we'd all starve for want of a battery for our digital tin openers.

Bus stop paranoia

There used to be a bus shelter in the middle of the Headrow in Leeds where you can get the 49 and 50 buses. It disappeared. At about the same time the massive new Argos 'Extra' opened just where the shelter used to be. As a miserable amateur conspiracy buff I started to convince myself that Argos probably had the power to object to bus shelters and get them removed due to them covering up Argos logos and their wonderful shop front. Then I saw a sticker on the bus stop saying that there would soon be a new shelter - what a silly paranoid little man I am eh?

However, this was weeks ago now and still no bus shelter. Maybe I am not mad. If it were Tescos I could be sure...I'll wait and see.