Archive for November, 2009

Episode 114. In which First Capital Connect are rubbish.

Posted in rant, trains with tags , , , , , , on November 14, 2009 by diabetses

Firstly, let me clarify that First Capital Connect, or FCC, or Effin’CC as I now call them, are rubbish at all times.  Almost constantly, fairly consistently, possibly to the death, you can rely on FCC to be rubbish.

Recently, though, they’ve outdone themselves.  I live in Brighton and work in the City of London, I rely heavily on FCC.  I don’t feel that’s unreasonable, I am only relying on them to do what it is they are paid to do, what they have a contract to do, what they, as an organisation, exist to do.

About three weeks ago they started mysteriously cancelling trains due to staff shortages.  Maybe it’s swine flu, I thought, or just bad management, too many people off on holiday.

Over the course of weeks and weeks of unreliable and overcrowded services, it finally became clear what was going on, and I was astounded at the stupidity.  It wasn’t a strike per se, but a lot of drivers were refusing to work overtime and days off.

Surely that shouldn’t be a big deal.  Oh, but it is.  Because FCC do not have enough drivers on the payroll to run its trains, unless they all volunteer to work overtime and days off.

Now that’s just ridiciulous.  It’s anyone’s right not to work more than their contracted hours, building your entire company on everyone always working extra time is idiotic.  Also, do I like the idea that my train is being driven by a guy on his fourth overtime shift of the week?  Not so much!

On Thursday 12th and Friday 13th November it all kicked off.  As I understand it, on Thursday basically everyone refused to do extra shifts, and by Friday it was an official strike action.  I saw notices about this on Wednesday night, so like the smart cookie I am, I prepared for it.  I checked what was going on online, made sure I knew what was and wasn’t running.  On Wednesday night I was asleep by 9pm, and awake by 5am on Thursday morning.  I made the sandwiches, got all dolled up, suited and booted, because I had a job interview.  I checked online what the latest situation was and decided that as my usual train was cancelled I’d go for the one before it, which was definitely running.

In the time between me checking one last time as I left the flat, and reaching the station, that train was cancelled.

And the info desk was crowded, whilst the info man explained that he knows how frustrating it is, but you see, management aren’t offering a pay deal!

I may or may not have mentioned this, but I am being made redundant.  I have my job for the time it will take to complete the planned restructure, and then I will be surplus to requirements.  I love my job, and I am very good at it, and therefore I get up every day and spend an hour and a half on a train, knowing I’ll spend another hour and a half on another train to get home after a day’s work.  Five days a week, I give up twelve hours of the day, even though it is no longer an investment in anything at all.

So it is hard for me not to tell info guy exactly why I do not care for his troubles, and expect to be conducted to my workplace as was agreed when I bought my season ticket.

First Capital Connect, as far as I am aware, do not care what their customers think of them.  They are generally unreliable, unless you rely on random cancellations, delays and rolling stock that is quite frankly just nasty.  So this strike, which is putting thousands of customers to massive inconvenience every day – in what way is it a punishment for FCC management, or incentive for them to do better?  If FCC were going to listen to the customers, and therefore do whatever it takes to ge the trains running, then they would probably also be inclined to keep the customer happy by just being better on a day to day basis.

It’s the commuters who are suffering, whilst FCC continue to sell tickets and season tickets despite not running most of their trains, and therefore not incurring the associated costs.  When trains don’t do extra shifts, FCC doesn’t have to *pay* for extra shifts.

Maybe that’s the plan.  Maybe they’re saving up until they have enough put aside to afford a better pay deal.  Maybe they’re saving up until they can afford to hire enough drivers to do what they’re paid for.

Frankly, I don’t care.  I can’t trust FCC, I can’t rely on them, and there is a very real possibility that my future travel needs will be met by Southern trains in conjunction with London Buses.  Yes, that will be inconvenient and a general pain in the arse, but I do have a tendency towards grudges where abysmal customer service is concerned.

Diabetic moment of the day

I had my swine flu jab today, what with being all delicate and all.  I am very impressed by the fact that I hardly felt the injection at all.  I mean I felt it, I’m not made of stone, but it hurt less than the seasonal flu jab, and an awful lot less than the pneumonia jab, which was closer to what I was expecting.  However, I do have the sore arm that I had expected from reports in the news and from friends.

But I’d rather have a sore arm than swine flu, that’s for damned sure.


Episode 113. In which we have an unexpected visitor.

Posted in home, people with tags , , , on November 7, 2009 by diabetses

Imagine you’re fast asleep, wrapped up cosy in bed, with your other half wrapped up fast asleep beside you.  The cat’s on the end of the bed purring like a lawnmower.

You hear a noise at the door.  You’re half-asleep, you think maybe it’s the postman.  Yeah, it’s early, not light yet, and the postman doesn’t come til lunchtime if he comes at all, but maybe he’s making an early start to get through the backlog after the strike action.

Then you hear a key in the door.  You jerk fully awake and think the landlord’s coming in.  You’ve had no warning.  The landlord’s cool, you can’t think why he might try to come into your flat at who-knows-what o’clock in the morning, without notice, but who else has a key?

It becomes clear that whoever is trying to get in is using the wrong key.  You get out of bed, chuck on your dressing gown and peek round the bedroom door and see whoever it is through the front door window.  The front porch light’s come on and you can see it’s nobody you know.

You go to the door and the following conversation ensues.

You: Mate, you’re at the wrong door.

Man moans in a questioning tone.

You: Your key doesn’t fit, man, cos this isn’t your door.

Man: Let me in.

You look down and see the man has stepped up onto the doorframe, feet in the door.  Bare feet in the door.  And he’s wearing shorts.  You see a pile of clothes behind him and realise he’s taken his shoes, socks and trousers off.  You become very aware that you are, essentially, semi-naked, and although there’s a big strong man you trust with your life ten feet away, the man in front of you has taken his trousers off and is pushing the door to get in.

You: You’re not coming in.  What house are you looking for?

Man: *shrugs* Twenty-three, twenty-four?

You: This is thirteen. It’s not your house. You’re not coming in.

Man: Come on, let me in, it’s my house.

You: It’s not. That’s why your key doesn’t work. You’re not coming in.

Man steps off the doorframe and you shut the door.

Man spends a few minutes trying to get his key out of the door, cos it’s well jammed in there, him having been so convinced it was his house.

You stand the other side of the door waiting for him to go away, as he drunkenly struggles into his trousers, socks and shoes, and staggers away.

You go back to bed to find your other half in the process of getting dressed to come and back you up.

Other half: What time is it?

You: Half five.

Other half: Jesus, how pissed was he?!

You: You know, although that could’ve potentially turned really nasty, it’s actually very funny.

Other half: *snore*

Diabetic moment of the day

Nothing.  It’s all good.  And also, I just got up.

Episode 112. In which I talk about X-Factor.

Posted in TV with tags on November 2, 2009 by diabetses

I freely admit I watch the X-Factor.  Start to finish, audition to golden confetti exploding out of the sky.  It’s either a really lame congratulatory shower for the winner of God thanking himself for having created Dermot O’Leary.



This year’s gone a bit wrong.  John and Edward.  I do not understand why they continue to appear on my TV.  Louis Walsh seems to adore them, wittering on constantly about “The Likeability Factor,” which to my mind proves the sparkly little leprechaun needs to lay off the rainbows.  John and Edward have the likeability factor, he says.  Danyl doesn’t, he says.  What Louis has forgotten is that this concept of The Likeability Factor is supposed to refer to how the general public might react, not Louis himself.  He’s fooled himself into believing that this is the same thing as what he likes.

Just for the record, Louis Walsh does not speak for me, he does not understand me, in fact his brain must be wired in a mirror image to mine.

John and Edward are lovely boys, they say, they’re sweet and warm and cheerful in the house shared by contestants.

I don’t really care.  They can’t sing.  They can’t dance.  I’ll stop short of saying they look awful for fear that a KitKat advert will kick in and they’ll go a long way.  But they’re not pop stars, and they never will be.

When they perform it feels like watching a really bad school talent show, the kind where everyone deserves a turn.  One of them’s always getting right in amongst it while the other flails around looking for a cue to where he’s meant to be, doing what move and singing what song.  I don’t even know which one’s which.  Or whether it’s always the same one flailing or whether they take turns.

I won’t deny they look like they’re having fun, it’s clearly a dream come true for them.  But not in an undiscovered genius way.  More in a Jim’ll Fix It way.

And what gets me the most about the whole thing, while fully grown men and women egg them on and vote for them to remain in the competition because they think it’s funny, is that people who are genuinely talented are being sent home into obscurity while John and Edward dance around like they ate all the blue Smarties.  I actually find it quite offensive.

The other week Miss Frank and Danyl were in the bottom two, and had to sing for survival.  Both of them had performed brilliantly throughout the competition and especially so on the night, and neither deserved to leave.

I like the X-Factor because I get to see talented people singing and dancing, people who can entertain.  But now it’s a popularity contest with no regard paid to what got the contestants onto the stage, it’s a farce, and a waste of everyone’s time.

That said, I could not bear Rachel and was glad to see her go.

Again, she was, apparently, a total sweetheart, kind and all-round lovely.

I wouldn’t know, I never met the girl, all I know is every week she got up on that stage and pissed me off.

She would squint her eyes in a way that I think was meant to look relaxed and sleepy, but it just looked like she was squinting.

She would sing a bit then look at the camera, wrinkly her nose and smile, like a diva in concert sharing a moment with the audience because they all know what’s coming next, and it’s her trademarked key change, or dance move, or 8-octave arpeggio in five seconds down.  But listen, Rachel, I don’t know you, you don’t know me, we’re not sharing a moment, and although I’ve no idea what’s coming next, judging by past performance it’s going to be more of the same.

I’m aware that all the guest judges loved her, and that’s great.  But maybe she wasn’t performing for them, but just singing for them.  Maybe her singing voice is spectacular.  I couldn’t get that far, I just wanted her to stop trying to nudge and wink me, she was like an intrusive old lady at the bus stop.  The kind that makes you start working out how long it would take just to walk home instead.

One week, Rachel wasn’t in the bottom two.  She got all excited and started talking like Stacey.

I love Stacey, I really do, I think she’s too ditzy to have a bad bone in her body, I think she sings beautifully and looks amazing.

But Rachel doing  a Stacey impression, it gave me the rage.  Maybe that was a genuinely excited version of Rachel.  But we’ve seen her through every stage of the competition, from audition to eviction, and I never saw her do that before.

Here’s what it all comes down to.  So is just so very, very contrived.

All her little trademark moves are moves she picked up off someone else,and quite frankly that’s both annoying and violation of copyright. Metaphorically speaking.

I wouldn’t care if she had no trademark moves.  I have no trademark , I’m dull as dishwater.  But everyone has one thing they cannot abide, something that just gives them the rage, right away, no build-up, no progression from mild irritation through consternation to frustrated ire.  What I cannot bear is people whose every move is contrived.

I don’t doubt Rachel is a sweetheart, I’m sure she did the dishes every day and ironed John and Edward’s hair for them and read Joe and Lloyd a bedtime story every single night.

But Little Voice has been done.


Diabetic moment of the day

Today’s diabetic moment is more of a temptation.  I wanted a doughnut So Badly this morning.  I didn’t eat one, of course.  But I wanted to.  Really, really wanted to.