Why the Bullshit Virgin Trains?

I’m a mature student so do a fair bit of casual work to top up my student loan because I don’t have rich middle class parents to support me through universitiy. I’m making the most of the casual work just in case red Ed gets in (RIP Britain) and bans zero hours contracts. I work for some shit employers such as G4S but equally work for a big transport company that provides transport services to other big transport companies. I respect this company but have to admit I lost a tad of this respect at a recent refresher training exercise. My trainer spoke of her disgust for the compensation and something for nothing cultures. As I’m big on personal responsibility, the trainer was my kind of woman! The training was dull. Usual health and safety stuff to ensure everyone covers their arses (because of the aforementioned compensation and Something for nothing cultures). I very much enjoy working for this company so I’m not going to name them as unfortunately their social media policy out trumps my freedom to express a valid argument online. 

It got to 3pm, the end of the long days training was in sight when the trainer announced we would do something a little difference. One of the clients of my company is Virgin Trains and old Richard Branson requested an element of my companies training incorporated an element of Virgin’s. This seems very fair as my company provide services on behalf of Virgin Trains. Also I have a lot of respect for Richard Branson (apart from when he wants to hug a junkie) so I was really disappointed to see he had sold out to the HR bullshit buzz word consultant industry.

The trainer put up pictures of Simon Cowell and Supernanny Jo Frost and asked what our first thoughts were when we saw these people. I suggested “fakes” and “shallow” but apparently I was wrong and so she ignored my answers and said the correct answer was these people were “deciders”. 

Next up was Steve Jobs, One of the Attenborough’s and Victoria Beckham. I mean come on. Victoria Beckham is not in the same league as Apple man Jobs. She might put her name to things others design but she is as shallow as the kids but if the swimming pool. I was wrong again and apparently they are “innovative”, “go-getters” or something or other.

Finally it was Princess Diana, David Beckham and some other twat I can’t remember. I gave in by this point. I don’t think she was interested in what I really thought of these guys, just what the bullshit merchant consultants had decided these guys represented. I think they were “kind” and “caring” but like I said I had shut down by this point otherwise I might have got the sack had I spoke my mind! We then had to stand by the group we thought was closest to our own personalities. I feel old but unlike Diana and Steve Jobs I’m not dead yet. And I haven’t been murdered by the Queen either. I’m honest and direct but unlike Cowell and Supernanny I’m not stage managed. If I’m like David or Victoria Beckham kill me now! The trainer would just not accept I wouldn’t be put in a box and neither should we try to put our customers in a box!

The moral to the bullshit was different staff and customers have different personalities and we need to change the way we approach different customers! Doh! I would have never have thought to treat a little old man with loads of luggage and unsure of his travel plans differently to a middle aged woman who knew exactly what her plans were but just needed to know which platform the train went from. Do the consultant cunts sit in an ivory tower thinking front line customer service staff are just idiots?

How does this make me deliver better service? It is just the brainchild of some talentless twat of a consultant trying to defend his huge salary by coming up with some utter bullshit to inflict on innocent front line staff who have  already the common sense to know how to deliver customer service which is more then the bullshit merchants creating this shit do!
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Why I’m not anti-benefits And why Labour have failed decent honest working people in the North?

I may seem anti-benefits by my rants on Twitter however it is hard to do your views justice in 140 characters. I want to put on record that I love benefits. I can’t imagine living in a country without the safety net and I think it is reflected in the comparison between the UK and other developed countries in terms of our standard of living, homelessness levels etc etc.  People pay into National Insurance, they raise children (the future of the UKs economy) and do good in their community and I wouldn’t go as far as saying it is our right but I think it is fair to expect help when we fallen on difficult times. I would probably take benefits further with some form of mortgage protection (considering the Government bailed out so many banks I don’t think they can bemoan some kind of joint scheme) so people who have contributed to NI for so many years can be confident they won’t lose their home should the worst happen (sensible considering our housing shortage. The alternative being repossessed, housed by the local council in a hostel before finding a council house long in the future must cost local authorities greatly!). 

It’s great that people who go out to work on crap wages get topped up by the state and can claim back on (drastically overpriced) childcare. There can’t be much incentive working in Tesco for less then a living wage and having to faff about sorting childcare and struggling to fit in family time and leisure stuff but everyday thousands across the UK take responsibility for their lives and their families (including myself for many years whilst I worked up the greasy ladder at work) and I’m proud that the tax credits exist to support these families (not to mention the Lib Dem tax cut on the first 12K). I disagree that forcing Governments to implement a living wage Would solve the need to top up wages because forcing companies to implement a living wage would just result in them employing less resulting in more people on benefits and reducing the economic activitiy of businesses which also contribute to the states kitty.

Furthermore I’m not against one person working families. It seems plausible for families to bring up their own children and we should support flexible working and the like to facilitate this. I believe good parenting leads to good adults in the future so if mum and dad want to work part-time or dad/mum want to stay at home then this shouldn’t be an issue. Nobody says it but childcare providers are not unlike the landlords making a pocket out of housing benefit. Childcare providers are cashing in knowing most charges are covered by the childcare element of tax credits. There,I have said it! 

I know what you are thinking, you are reading this I love benefits blah, blah, blah. There must be a BUT coming up. And you’re right. There is a but. The leftist elite at the Guardian who pop into a food bank once and decree the deprived condition of the poor don’t tell the full story. I grew up on a council estate. I live in an ex mining community where everything is the fault of Margaret Thatcher. Labour controlled my shit hole during the miners strike and continuously since but it’s still all the Conservatives fault. Labour’s manifesto here could be to kill your kids and they would still get in. Yet, these guys are more shrewd then people give them credit for. The leftist media might like to portray them as victims, as a little bit thick, as abandoned by the elite but it’s simply not true. As the Guardian would discover if it lived here day in day out instead of sending an Oxford educated Home Counties born middle class journalist for half an hour for a photo shoot with the “deprived”. Yes the vast majority are hard working. On a commuter train route into Leeds, the morning trains fill up with many Heading to a variety of employment types. Yes , many want the best for their children and play an active part in such. Equally however there are a significant number who abuse the system. Our political elite seem to find it acceptable to use “scrounger” rhetoric to describe immigrants but it seems to have come a taboo to separate those who are using benefits as a safety net in hard times or for good reasons (such as actual disability that restricts or prevents work) from those who are taking the piss. 

There are people who have never worked in their life. They have council homes (absolutely nothing wrong with social housing, I’m not sure why the British are obsessed with owning!) which they have never paid a penny of rent on (there is something wrong with this). They have never contributed a penny to national insurance, to council tax. They have children. Lots of children. Starting a whole new generation of scroungers whose role-model parenting leads them into the same life dependent on the state, having children who in turn have a life dependent on the state. This same pattern reproduced across so many Labour strongholds in the North of England.

People bemoan the “unfair” ATOS checks and if people who need and should get support are not getting what they need then these fit-to-work assessments are a huge injustice because I know of people who are enjoying a life on disability benefit,free vehicle and the right to park dangerously wherever they like with a blue badge when by there own admission there is no reason why they couldn’t work. I know someone who pulls out a walking stick for his periodic assessment yet makes money on the side doing heavy lifting and deliveries in his mobility estate car despite his “bad-back”.

People scoff at the idea of “belittling” those on benefits by making them work for benefits but consider this? If benefits are the equivalent of 12 hours employment at just above minimum wage, would it be wrong to ask a single mum to work 10-2 three weekdays each week in a library or in another local service if it fits around childcare issues etc? 

People criticise the idea of benefit sanctions for missing appointments and whilst I appreciate the jobworths with little man/ little woman syndrome who work here. I once tried at job centre when I was looking for a better job. They have got to be the worst places in the UK conducive to finding a job. Equally as I found out when interviewing at the job centre in Torquay once they are full of people playing the system presenting themselves as unemployable.  It is not fair sanctioning someone who is at a job interview. Again I suspect the Guardian will pick up a case of this happening to someone unemployed the result of the recession and desperate to return to work, and run a story on how the deprived are treated! Equally though if you have to be at the job centre for ten minutes just once a fortnight to guarantee your benefit you would take responsibility and just be there. As an employee I have places I have to be and face action if I’m not there. It’s called the real World!

And don’t get me started on drug/alcohol addiction being a valid reason for disability benefit…..

I anticipate people who really need or really l deserve our help struggle to get it whilst instead the political correct brigade and leftie lefties in their ivory towers defend the indefensible and paradoxically are to blame for the issues of inequity in our welfare system! Our welfare system should be fair and equitable. It should reward work at its core whilst providing a safety net to all, supporting the vulnerable but clamping down on those abusing it. This clearly isn’t happening. 

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Speed is not that dangerous…..

I’m big on road safety. I’m very lucky to have only been involved in a few minor shunts (none my fault I should add) nor do I know anyone who has been seriously or fatally injured in a road-traffic accident or by a vehicle as a cyclist/pedestrian/ other/innocent  road-user. I consider myself a safe driver. I stay alert. I appreciate my car could be a weapon of mass destruction with just a momentary loss of concentration or a few pints inside me. I know that it’s highly unlikely a kid will run out from the parked cars I’m passing or a boy racer will fly round the bend I can’t see round but I have to be prepared for it. I wouldn’t want to imagine the guilt of having a death on my conscious even if I was doing everything right and wasn’t legally to blame. I realise it’s a pain to physically check the blind spot every time you want to overtake on the M1 but considering the consequences of hitting another moving car with combined speeds of 140 MPH I think it’s worth the neck strain for the extra check. This is why I just can’t get my head around people who step out into the road without looking (like the guy at Garforth station this morning I could have potentially killed had I not been alert!) or the cyclists who creep up the side of buses thinking they might win the battle with a ten ton double decker!

I hate if only’s. If only I had looked before crossing the road. If only I had slowed down for the bend. The list could go on and on, and not just for road safety. It has got to be a sound principle for life. If people did the if only test before doing the “thing” then “if only” can become “I’m glad I……..” . Life is short and precious. Mowing down a kid, being in a head on collision yourself on the motorway or being killed by a truck on your bike because you thought the Highway Code didn’t apply to cyclists is a waste of life that could so easily be avoided.

That said, I don’t agree with current policy on road safety at all. I get in my car, I’m doing 70 on the motorway. I’m alert, I’m checking my mirrors, blind spot. I’m aware of the traffic around me. I’m constantly trying to preempt and second guess the environment around me. Then some dick on a motorbike flys past me on a bend on the other side of the road risking my life, his/her own life and the life of a potential car coming the other way. Yet policy would dictate I “think bike”. Am I wrong to think the campaign should be aimed at bikers to take responsibility for their actions, to adhere to the rules of the road and speed limits and “think car”. Why should I have to overcompensate for their failings?

I’m also dead against reducing speed limits in general! Yes, if I had to pick ether being hit by a car doing 20 or one doing 40, I would rather take my chances at 20MPH. But I think the big issue is, why am I getting hit by a car in the first place? A girl at my son’s school stepped into the road and was seriously injured by a car doing 30 MPH ( luckily she is OK now, the accident was her fault and the car driver was not at fault). The dad of said girl was obviously upset and was pictured on the front of the local rag stating his daughter would not return to school until the speed limit on the road was reduced 20 MPH. Considering the schools aggressive attendance policy I’m guessing the girl would have returned to school the minute she was discharged from hospital otherwise finding herself with a £60 fine from the schools dictator sorry principal (aka bullshit speak for headteacher). I can’t help but think though that surely the answer was to address the cause of the accident. I doubt the girl will ever step out into the road again in her life without checking but a less drastic action to others surely is better road safety education. By campaigning to reduce speed limits rather then bollock his daughter for nearly killing herself people are not benefitting from taking responsibility for their actions. Why should innocent car drivers have to overcompensate for a girls thoughtless actions. Road safety campaigners are quick to call for blanket speed reductions without considering the serious consequences for the economy of slowing the nation down. Aside from the economy reducing speed limits just means people are getting minor injuries being hit by cars at slow speeds. We are not tackling the problem. Doncaster is a final bastion of decent speed limits for motorists. It’s main roads into the town have a 50 MPH limit (40 through the built up bits) yet Leeds and Wakefield up the road now seem to have blanket 30 MPH limits the minute you come off the motorway obvious because the local authorities have caved in to road safety campaigners demands without any actual thought for road safety.

Speed is also the authorities tool for dealing with road safety. Speed cameras are incredibly handy at generating cash but fail to deal with dangerous driving. Any idiot can slam on the brakes for every speed camera then drive dangerously the rest of the time and never get caught. I travelled up a relatively quiet M5 last week, doing 70 ish up the inside lane. Every now and then I would come up against some idiot in the middle lane doing 68 and have to swing right out to the outside lane to safety pass whilst pissing off Mr Audi who wants to do 90 MPH in the outside lane so is up my arse, tailgating until I get round the middle lane driver. In this scenario a speed camera would do me  for going slightly above 70 on a quiet motorway ( there is no set limit on German autobahns) whereas the twat in the middle lane or the tailgater will carry on driving badly and never be dealt with!

Speed is just one element in road safety, it should not be the only tool in road safety campaigners arsenal.

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Tales from my travels

Less a blog, more a travel book! And not a very good one!

A general selection of my musings from my recent travels, not particularly well presented, organised or relevant but something attracted you to start reading this……

I was always a timid traveller. I would get anxious just before a long drive and I was convinced every time I got the train up to London for leisure there was a bomb onboard. And don’t even get me started on sea and air. I think it was a mixture of believing everything I saw in the media and reading/watching too many depressing books/TV shows. I always liked the idea of travel but was a tame tourist hence the bomb excitement over a simple train ride to London, almost a daily occurrence for lots of folk. It was only after joining the railway industry that I started to commute to London daily. I now look at the idiots who struggle with basics like finding their seats and my worries of yesteryear have long gone despite the risk of terrorism on the transport network probably more prevalent these days. Over the past couple of years I have aimed to get some sort of authenticity from my trips as opposed to run of the mill nice and easy package holidays. By authenticity I mean 3 nights without a proper bed slumped across 3 seats on night trains from Brussels to Helsinki instead of taking a three hour flight. It also means I get the moral high ground with the top dog at Greenpeace who flies from Brussels to Amsterdam because the 1 and a half hour train journey is too long for the environmental groups exec. My wife prefers the destination where as I’m for the journey which causes some conflict when it comes to planning our jollies.

My recent trip to Finland I did on my own, well I was meeting people in Helsinki who had set off 3 days after me and got there a couple of hours before me. As well as the risk of being shot down or hijacked (I don’t worry about engine malfunction because I have watched enough episodes of Air Crash Investigation to fix any mid-air scenarios that may arise) they also miss out on the rich tapestry of life you get on 96 hours of train journeys which you simply don’t get on a three hour easyJet flight.

It’s disappointing the German railways (DB) City Night Line brand is being withered away. Gone is the night train to Copenhagen replaced by an (ancient) regular train from Frankfurt to Hamburg. The train stops everywhere and takes 8 hours. Decent night trains could offer a real alternative to flying short-haul (perhaps even for Greenpeace employees) unfortunately from my experience they are far from a luxury product full of interaillers, the less affluent, ethnic minorities and drunks. Doing lots of miles in the dead of night, the fact most German stations are hives of activity all hours making them safer places to wait after hours then some of the UKs dingy affairs along with the bargain fares give the railways something to work with to compete with the airlines especially with the environmentally conscious travellers. That is assuming unlike the Greenpeace gaffer they are all for the environment signing Heathrow third runway petitions and chaining themselves to trees and not bathing for months until it comes to their own travel habits. I would love to see a selection of luxurious (but not too pricey to out price the average guy) sleepers leaving the UK every night for varied destinations in mainland Europe. Maybe I’m wishful thinking for a romantic vision of sleeper trains whose days have now passed. It’s odd to see the only sleepers getting any TLC are the UKs. I have never been on the Anglo-Scottish one but the FGW Penzance one is pointless. It sits around so much en-route it could leave Paddington a day late and still make Penzance on time. It acts as a late train from London to Exeter and an early morning commuter train for Cornwall. It’s two main cities Exeter and Plymouth have awfully unattractive pick up and arrival times!

Frankfurt to Hamburg was no difference to the norm described above. I started with 3 seats to myself so made a bed, sharing a carriage with a few women and all was well until Cologne. It was there,that a bunch of drunks got on, thinking it was hilarious to sing and bang the floors for effect. This went on for two hours. It really is a sad reflection on society that people have so little respect for each other and I have blogged before that I expect these morons are regular guys and girls who for some reason (usually alcohol) and increased confidence from being with friends seem to find it acceptable to behave like cunts. I would love to track them down when they are being normal, going to work and reading the kids bedtime story and just stand in front of their houses and make loads of noise and shout rude words to see if pisses them off! Back to Germany and I can’t help but think that Germany is like the UK in the 1980’s. I expect Angela Merkell may take offence at being called backwards but I don’t mean it as an insult. The spitting, boozing on the streets from morning until night and what seems like mandatory smoking for everyone from aged 12 don’t seem too great however it was good to see a country that doesn’t ban things for being too risky. Posters and magazines that would be slated by Mail and Express readers in the UK (like the Hovis bread advert because the girl had a short skirt) are plastered around underground stations and on proud display in newspaper stands not censored behind dark plastic wrappers so as to not cause offence or heaven forbid be seen by teenagers. Because teenagers don’t know about these things! Health and safety which apparently is a construct of the Brussels beauracrcy machine is ironically nowhere to be seen in Germany. The train doors release as the train slows down at the station not ten minutes after stopping to make sure all the people who lack the common sense not to open a moving train door are catered for. German underground trains don’t carry minute detailed instructions for boarding with prams or standing clear of the doors because people just get on with it. In fact it’s good to see a city of a decent size with good urban transport (Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham take note). It’s good to just be able to get on with your life, free of nanny state, free to make my own decisions and free to live with the consequences. The only bit of nannying I want from the state is the freedom to get on with my own life without fear of other people effecting that freedom. I like the anything goes attitude of the German’s and the Dutch too. Neither are Coca-Cola or booze companies banned from sponsoring things because they are pure evil and the reason for liver cancer and obesity, nothing to do with people’s responsibility. On a lesser note it’s also nice to see a huge selection of reasonable priced and quality food and drink at German stations, open beyond dusk. It’s a far cry from the stale, overpriced Upper Crust sandwiches and other crappy Select Service Partner offerings here in the UK.

It’s a shame the demise of European night trains. I did the Paris to Berlin one and now that’s gone, I didn’t make Copenhagen on the night train because it broke down at Hannover and now that’s gone. Although this did mean I got to do the regular ICE /DSB daytime train from Hamburg to Copenhagen which uses the ferry from Puttgardin to Rodby. What was otherwise a pleasant international journey was again marred by 7 guys sat in the seats directly in front of me. I have to hand it to them though, they broke a new record in alcohol consumption. Again they seemed like regular guys on a weekday. They started as we left Hamburg at 925 am with about five cans each of top strength beer and doing shots downing miniature spirit bottles whole. The train was shifted into the car deck of the Scandlines ferry and we had to vacate the train during the crossing. When we returned to the train they had added a bottle of duty-free Whiskey to their collection which they had finished by Denmark’s capital. How can people even be alive after so much alcohol consumption. I can’t imagine how their bodies took it in. As the booze intake increased the decibels they output also increased. One of them can’t have been as drunk as the others or his conscious didn’t abandon him after 5 pints because he kept telling them to shush, although towards the end this was as annoying as the other noise. I like a beer on the train. I like to look out of the window, to read, catch up on work, daydream, sleep, even talk when I’m travelling with company. Although usually travelling in a group usually makes it cheaper to go by car. I would be embarrassed to cause so much of a disturbance to others. I can’t see why people think that kind of behaviour is acceptable in public places!

I’m pleased to say the next leg of my journey, a five hour train from Copenhagen to Stockholm, 12 hour sleeper to Lulea and then 2 hour bus ride across the border to Kemi in Finland was drunk free and a pleasurable journey with the only thing rising through the journey being the amount of snow on the ground. In fact I was the drunk being told off. I was about to open my 330ml can of Heineken when the train manager appeared from nowhere and told me only booze purchased onboard can be consumed. Although I’m against these schemes which profit the train company at the expense of the passenger (and an illegal monopoly) it was noticeable the nicer environment. Not wanting to diss the Germans again but the Swedish are a much sexier bunch then their dowdier German near neighbours, even the Swedish men almost manage to pull off those bright colours. It seems a lot more modern then some of its European neighbours. There is a distinct lack of neon lights compared to Belguim and Germany but still a lot of heavy industry, a rarity in modern Britain. It’s also amazing to see just how much snow they have but most amazingly how it doesn’t stop everyday life. Public transport remains (very) efficient, pavements are also cleared, the UK could learn a lot.

I make it over the border into Finland at Tornio and a short bus ride to the city of Kemi where I have 4 hours to kill before my sleeper train to Helsinki. It’s like stepping into the apocalypse. There was an eyrie mist off the Baltic Sea over the town at dusk which gave it a strange glow but there were literally no people, no pedestrians, no cars. Everything was closed. Shops, restaurants and bars all closed about 5pm, even the pubs. The fact the Christmas tree was still up and lit in the main square made me seriously think some kind of Armageddon happened around Xmas and I’m the first to arrive on the scene (or that it’s a marketing ploy as it is in Lapland area). I know the urge to leave home in minus 5 temperatures amidst lashings of snow must not be tempting but for a whole city it was bizarre. You know it’s bad when you do a find your nearest McDonalds search and it comes up with one 150 KM away. I eventual found a Pizzeria on a side street and guess what? I was the only customer. The pizza and beer was good followed by a walk round a late night supermarket (9pm late night not late night by normal standards) just to pass time. All the stations I have been to on my travels so far have been huge with food and drink to while away the hours to departure. Unfortunately Kemi Central station like everything else in Kemi has nothing but a deserted waiting room. It doesn’t have many trains. My connections have all worked perfectly so far and as I wait here at Kemi station for 3 hours (not even any wi-FI) Im starting to wish I hadn’t added in extra contingency to account for delays. My journey home is much tighter connections, will be interesting to see if I make it back to West Yorkshire by Maundy Thursday as planned (read on to find out if you are that interested). As I left the pizzeria I commented to the waitress whose English was far superior then my non existent Finnish about the town being quiet and when I said I was killing time for the train, she asked where to, to which I replied Helsinki, to which she replied “naturally”. Maybe a bit of North-South divide present in Finland too. I can’t see Kemi ever being a Northern powerhouse in any sense! 

So my third night in a row of not much sleep on the train proved the worst. The train was busy. A girl was asleep in my seat when I boarded and didn’t want to wake her and claim my rightful seat like I would have in the UK owing to the potential language barrier of making my case. Although up until now I have found the Finn’s English very good which makes my complete lack of knowledge of the Finnish language a tad embarrassing. Obviously though I have never had course to learn Finnish and would struggle to remain competence owing to my little need to speak it overall. I feel like telling everyone I speak a bit of Dutch and French to highlight I’m not a complete idiot. I took another empty seat waiting for someone to kick me out of it en-route but nobody did however the guys in front decided to fully recline their seats leaving me with very little room and not much sleep. Out of the window vast landscapes of what I can only describe as Christmas tree forests whizz by, the snow had started falling thick and fast and the traditional wooden finish houses made for pleasurable window shopping en-route. A couple of quick stop offs in Tampere and Turku before onto the capital. Being from the North of England where the highlight is getting a 20 year old cattle truck over a 30 year old pacer, there is something exciting about travelling on the modern double deck trains. So far have spent all my time on battered old sleeper rolling stock somewhere on a par with the UKs mark 1 stock. It was interesting to note a short shower hose in the toilets of Finnish commuter trains which I’m guessing acts as a sort of bedae? Interesting toilet habits of the Finns. However on arrival Helsinki will have to wait. I’m checking into my hotel and catching up on 3 days missed sleep. It’s bloody tiring this authentic travel!

A week in a  Helsinki  and day trip to Tallinn taught me a number of things:

It’s bloody cold in Finland.

Everybody in Helsinki  lives in an apartment (literally didn’t see one house)

The state control all sales of spirits and wines (except pubs) through its Alko brand stores (personal freedom and monopoly issues going on here!)

The Finnish are far too keen to get naked- I’m talking Saunas.

Helsinki to Tallinn is just Dover to Calais before duty free disappeared- booze cruise time!

So it’s time to start the long trek home! My first mistake was to believe the Silja line advertising that the port of Turku was a short walk from the station. A short half hour walk although it did transpire there was a station at the terminal served at ferry times. My bed for the night was the MS Baltic, a huge ship to take me to Stockholm with a short stop in Mariehamm which I believe is for some customs loop hole so the ship can sell cheap booze or something. Despite this being my third ferry crossing of my jolly I’m feeling somewhat apprehensive about this journey across the Baltic Sea. Although the crossing actually proves relatively smooth my cabin is at the back near the engines and so the sway of the sea has been replaced by the vibrations of the engines. The journey seemed more of a river passage then a sea crossing. The Baltic between Turku and Stockholm is littered with lots of islands. 10 hours, a fine buffet,a few bottles of duty free and a bad nights sleep later and I’m in Stockholm and around 30 hours from the bright lights of West Yorkshire.

The next leg of my long journey home was Stockholm to Copenhagen by train. I have found the Swedish railways highly efficient making huge distances without losing a single minute en-route. I had pre-booked food with my reservation and received a ready meal of Chicken in white sauce I had to microwave myself on the train which was nicer then it sounds. I think I arrived in Copenhagen on the same day the entire population of Denmark were leaving by train for their Easter break. I needed to make a reservation so went to the ticket office where they have a deli-counter style system where you take a ticket and wait to be called. Not good when your train leaves in 5 minutes and you get number 519 and they have just called 226! I finally made it out of Denmark and over the border into Germany, home edging ever closer. I have covered around 1000 KM since jumping ship at Stockholm and all has been ontime that is until the penultimate train before I reach the night train in Hamburg to take me through the night towards Brussels and the Eurostar back to the UK. 

One day at home and then it’s a 300 mile drive to Cornwall with the family for the week! I need a rest!!!!!

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Why no ambition?

i wasn’t particularly perfect at school. In fact I was in my late twenties when I really thought I was actually on the right path with education, with my career, with life in general. But I always had ambition, big plans, ideas, even if in hindsight I probably wasn’t going the right way to achieve them. 

I live in a shithole. In fact anyone who visits would probably complain that I’m giving shithole a bad name by asscociating it with my town. It’s an old pit town where despite 30 odd years as a Labour seat everything is the fault of Margaret Thatcher. There are a few good uns’ ,one shouldn’t commit ecological fallacy and tie everyone in with my ethnographic observations of the last 7 years I have been unfortunate to live here. But there is a distinct lack of ambition. 

People don’t work, they don’t go to college/ university, they don’t aim for big exciting life, they don’t even aim for a house, regular 9-5, holiday to Florida every year and nice family. There is just no ambition. They have kids at 15/16,said kids have no dad by age 1 but said dad has many kids with many mums by aged 25. A council house is the goal. Stop crying you little fuckers is the phrase of choice for the mums, smoking over their kids screaming in the pushchair as they head to the notorious  crackhouse on Holly Close to get their fix until the monthly methadone free prescription arrives. 

I know the leftie leftie wishy washie liberals will accuse me of being some right winger bemoaning scroungers but that is not true. I had modest upbringings. I still have a relatively modest life. I work hard to pay for the things I want and work hard to achieve the things I want in life. The above are real people from my community who I have observed, grew up with and lived with closely over the years which is more of a study then the middle class wishy washys who drop into a food bank once and suddenly blame it all on the Conservatives and think they know all about the deprived. People in deprived areas are more shrewd then the elite give them credit for. Yes there are people in real hardship through no fault of their own. Yes I could tell you stories from my community of people who say no, we won’t be a victim  of the pit town curse. 

You get out of life what you put in. Writing yourself off because everyone in your community has wrote themselves and you off makes it a bloody hard struggle, admittedly, but like I said, you get out what you put in. The only real barrier is how much effort you put in, and that’s bloody low in my community! You can’t expect everything to be handed on a plate but imagine how good it must feel for those who do persevere and do something with their lives against such adversaries. Nobody ever said it would be easy.

I resent my children’s school at the patronising attitude it takes to parents but equally don’t envy them at the scale of the job they have in such communities where parents want the best for their kids but the “best” is getting pregnant and a council house (again this is a real example). 

When the middle class visit food banks and claim society has failed people they are missing a much bigger failure, lack of ambition.

A teenager got on the train today. Feet straight onto the seats. Probably never taught any respect for people’s property from his parents. His loud conversation with his friend four seats back punctuated by “fucking ” at least three or four times in every sentence. Where you off? Off to school innit. Which school you go to how? The special one in Crofton for my behaviour like I punched my teacher. [apparently this was hilarious to him and his friends]. Me mam said I didn’t punch her hard enough, one more year and I can leave the shithole.

You may leave school mate, but you will never leave the shithole.

Why no ambition?

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Why does nobody take responsibility for their own actions?

Apologies in advance, it’s another rant!!!!

I tripped over a loose paving slab 20 years ago and ripped some new clothes. I got a telling off from my parents. Despite it being partly the fault of the local council as they have a certain responsibility to maintain the highway, equally common sense dictates there are a lot of paving slabs in a council’s area so provided they have tools in place to keep the highways in a decent condition then one has to expect the odd lose slab. My pride was hurt more then any physical injury in the fall. Back in the 1990’s if my parents had suggested taking the council to court for my trip, they would have been laughed at. Yet today there are hundreds of legal firms who would bite my arm off to represent me and I could expect a couple of grand for a little trip in the street. Firstly I can’t help but think taking a company to court just pushes up their prices. More so for local authorities who either tax you more or provide fewer services to maintain a pot to pay out idiots who are too busy on their Blackberry and trip over paving slabs. You don’t get anything for free and that includes your compensation!

People just don’t take responsibility for their actions anymore. If you come up to a level crossing across the railway with barriers closing, lights flashing, the whole caboodle and you chose to ignore it all and make a dash across the tracks because you are too impatient to wait; then you get hit by a 100MPH train whose fault is that? Network Rail’s apparently!!!!

From fat people taking legal action against McDonalds (the advertising made me buy a Big Mac) to smokers sending writs to tobacco companies for forcing them to contract lung cancer because of the fancy packets ( I just couldn’t say no to them Marlboro lights) to people who have never done a days work in their life but still churn out a kid a year and moan that the council won’t give them a bigger house or more benefits like it is there god given right to be handed everything on a plate. Take some responsibility. I don’t smoke, I enjoy a pint and the occasional Big Mac. If I have a heart attack I don’t expect my wife to declare war on Burger King. I made my choices. I have worked hard. I have paid national insurance. If I fell on hard times I would expect a bit of help but I wouldn’t expect the state to pay for a fortnight in Florida or other luxuries I enjoyed in better times or to look after me indefinitely because I have no intention of getting a job. It’s not on!

There were adverts in today’s media about a voluntary code the big bookmakers are signing up to, removing sexy adverts from their windows, stopping TV adverts before 9pm that feature free bet offers and reducing the number of slot machines in their branches. I hope Ray Winstone still gets to ” have a bang on that” as part of this shake up! It turns out the bookies are spreading these new found morals to pre-empt more restrictive imminent legislation. I like a bet. I think having a small wager on the outcome makes a sport more exciting. I tend to go for safer bets like Manchester United beating MK Dons (apparently a dead cert!). Sometimes I win. More times I loose. That’s life! Every week Skybet send me an e-mail saying I can have a £10 free bet ( with the small print being only if I spend a tenner first). Every week I tweet Skybet and tell them it’s not a free bet if I have to pay £10. I’m not a mug. If I choose to spend my whole months bills and shopping money on gambling and lose it then I’m f***** . If I did make that Ill faited decision though I would have nobody to blame but myself.

It’s time people stopped blaming everybody else for their own decisions, their actions and the choices they made!

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