Sunday, 11 January 2009

Stupid half-witted and totally inconsiderate bleeps!

What am I on about this time?

Brainless illegal and inconsiderate parking, masquerading as deliveries.

South London, a fairly well-known high street that I won't name. Those who know the area'll recognise the map on the right.

The road is, for a busy suburban high street, fairly narrow (just wide enough to get a couple of double decker buses down it side-by-side with a few inches to spare either side). The route I drive comes out of the side road, Alpha Street, turning left into Bravo Road, calling at the bus stop that starts just under the railway bridge, outside the station. Note the Zebra Crossing, zigzag road paint markings, and the double yellow lines.

So, where do the bleeping moronic fools PARK their vans and trucks for the entire rush-hour period?

Yup. You guessed it. Right on the road junction, under the bridge, and on and opposite the bus stop.

Of course, as we come out of Alpha Street, we can't see down Bravo Road to see if there's oncoming traffic, as the "delivery" vans (left unattended during Rush Hour, all the doors and shutters down and locked, of course) are blocking our view, and when we DO turn onto Bravo Road, we have to drive on the wrong side of the flamin' road because - wait for it - you guessed it - those thrice-be-damned vans are parked in the way. I'm frankly amazed that there hasn't been a fatal accident along there, because that parking is sitting up and begging for one to happen.

Add to this that if one of my route's buses is coming the other way as I'm coming along the route, we have hells' own delight in getting by each other, or even turning in and out of Alpha Street at the same time - the roads are that narrow.

No wonder the traffic there is horrendous.

Now, in the normal course of events anywhere else, you'd expect this to attract the jubilant attentions of the local council parking attendants with their much over-used penalty notice ticket books in their grubby mitts, with the local Council tow trucks not far behind.

Not here.

They'll ticket anything in sight on all the side streets, but not these vans and trucks on the main road. They turn a blind eye.


Even though it causes complete and utter mayhem, congestion, frayed tempers, and not a little rather rude language, gestures, and mutterings.

I've been too busy behind the wheel over the last year to take pictures, but you can see from the diagram what I mean when I say "mayhem".

Even Centrecom, the London Buses Central Control, appear to have given up yelling at the council.

So... with all the above in mind... given that they are parking on double yellow lines, Zebra Crossing Zig Zags, and virtually blocking a main road (Queens Highway, in Road Traffic Act language)... why on earth haven't the Police (who in this area reputedly love a good ruck with the locals) done anything about it?

Answers to the usual place, of course.

Friday, 9 January 2009

The "Farbe" factor (or how to spot a "Rivet Counter")

OK, this is not exactly a rant, but it's not exactly an observation either, so bear with me :)

As you might have twigged from earlier postins in this blant, I'm an avid Living History buff (or "Re-Enactor"), and work on the Cold War period of the British Army.

Now, there are those who just don't get the interest, as with any hobby... there are those that frankly worry me with their attention to detail... and then there are the "Farbes" (from "Far be it for me to criticise your kit, but..."), otherwise known as "Rivet Counters". A recent series of postings on one particular forum concerned with Living History types like me went from what I thought to be helpful advice on getting certain kit on a budget, to frankly an out and out attack on our integrity to accuracy.


OK, there ARE levels of 'authenticity' in every part of the Living History / re-enactment hobby.

The Key Word there, by the way, is "hobby".

Yes, we can get kit that is perfectly faithful to the original issue gear (right down, if required, to the number of nails in a hobnail boot, for pointed example ;)), but surely the intent is just as important as the substance?

Most hobbyists (like me for example) do not have bottomless pockets, and tend, at least in the early days of our involvement in the hobby, to get kit that looks close to the original as possible even if it is, on occasion, inaccurate on close examination. Never the less, it's a cheap way of getting ready for our first displays - first hand knowledge is handy there, truth be told, and my task is, I will grant, a bit easier than, for example, World War Two Re-Enactors, as I and my team Re-Enact specific parts of the Cold War: As a result, original kit can be a damn sight easier to find for my team and I.

Anyhow, we tend, like many in the hobby, to replace inaccurate kit as time marches on, with either accurate reproduction kit, or the actual original kit if possible and financially justifiable (especially in these harder than usual times). There's your intent, by the way. Certainly, that's the way I attack the problem, and I'm sure there are many others in this hobby of ours that do exactly that as well.

So. Attacking someone and/or his advisors merely because the sole of a certain boot might not look quite right, when the intent (as posed by his original question in that thread) is there to do the best job possible on a budget, is frankly an out and out "Farbe" attack, and not at all helpful to the newbie in the hobby.

It also, I think, diminishes any useful advice the farbe might have had for the newbie, as the newbie tends to be insulted by the high-handed and arrogant behaviour of the farbe, and as a result will more likely as not dismiss any such advice as another attack on his abilities, principles, and so on.

Clearly, a case of shooting oneself in the foot on the part of the farbe.

So, the moral of this blant?

Don't be a rivet counter!

By all means, advise on the correct kit, the differences between the original gear and available/commercial alternatives, but advise, don't demean: Help, don't lecture, and above all, grow a sense of humour ;)

God knows we all need one of those these days, what with the attacks on our hobby, the gear and weaponry we display, and our very intents, under the spotlight as never before!

Here endeth the blant!

Political Blant: Fire the Chancellor of the Exchequer NOW!

Y'know, reading my previous post, it suddenly occurred to me that the Government isn't going to get the recession ended if things continue as they currently are. Crime will. They (the criminals that is) steal from us, we shell out our hard-earned to replace what is stolen, the insurance firms make money whether you claim or not, and the cycle repeats ad infinitum, thus circulating money, which is what the government are trying, it seems, to encourage (money circulation, I mean), as a lack of money circulation causes recessions, so we hear on the telly.

So, here's a bit of advice for the Prime Minister.

To solve criminal activity, and put our tax pounds where they SHOULD be, save your cash injections into the banks, who stuffed up the economy in the first place (sub prime lending my backside. IRRESPOSIBLE and INCOMPETENT lending is what it really was, hell if I was that irresponsible and incompetent, I'd be fired!), and re-direct the money into the Police, allow them to put ALL coppers on the streets, leave a corps of administrative assistants in the stations to do the repeat paperwork for a Proper Coppers signature, and let the Free Market (what the government is trying to prop up) suffer Darwin's Financial Services Law (the strongest survive, the weakest get eaten). There will, as now, be hardships ahead, but ye gods, the criminals'll suffer too, and that's what counts!

In short, the government has it all ass about face, as usual.


Fire the Chancellor of the Exchequer NOW!

A Guide to Wallet Pain 101...

OK, back in the big smoky city again. That's London, to you lot

Following the loss of my car radio/CD player in last weeks theft, I'm now searching for a replacement unit. So far, the window shopping and advice seems to indicate that I'll have to shell out close to two hundred quid for an equivalent unit to the one that got nicked, which was a Kenwood KDC-7024, a VERY nice unit, and of course, no longer made, dammit.

The thieves who nicked it (may turnips stuff up their anal passages and woodworm fill their nostrils) can't use it, of course, unless they get the PIN reprogrammed (which is probably what the halfwits who nicked it'll do, mind, there being a surfeit of crooked wotsits out there who're all too willing to do that for them), but the pain in the backside was the CD I'd burnt that very day, which is still in the blasted stereo! mutter mutter wibble burble rant rant rant...

At least they never got the original - following a car theft three or four years back, I made a concious decision that I would never leave original CDs in the car: I would only leave copy - burned - CDs. Looks like the decision paid off, if only for the damn CD!

Still, I'm left with shelling out for a replacement radio/CD player. I'm not claiming on the insurance, as you might remember. More trouble (read expensive) than it's worth, to be frank, and even though I've got five years protected no claims, the dodgy bleeps in the insurance company will you can be sure, raise the premiums on me if I claim. hell, they'll raise 'em anyhow even if I don't claim, but they'll raise 'em even higher if I claim, so there you have it. Classic Catch-22. Misbegotten sons of... well, you get the idea. I'm not happy at all.

Back to the stereo hunt. I went to a specialist Car Audio dealer near where I live this morning, since what I know of the topic could best be put on the head of a pin. Big mistake. He gave some useful information to me, then pointed out that the way in which my "Kennie" had been wired in meant that unless I wanted to rip out all the wiring and restore it to factory-standard, I'd have to shell out anywhere from £150 upwards for a new unit. I'd also have to get a Ford Facia Plate (another £15) and an ISO Connector (another £15) in addition, due to the manner in which the blasted theives had riped out my old unit. The fitting, or course, would be free, as it was "P*** easy". I politely thanks the lad for his advice, left the store, and damn near collapsed from pain in the wallet - £180 at least?!

Next on the shock trip was Halfords. Where I got a similar story. With a twist. While they'd be happy to flog me the new radio, I'd have to book the car in, have it surveyed by their in-house radio fitter and, only if there was no non-standard connecting to be performed, would the fitting be free. Otherwise, it'd cost me £39.99 to get the damn thing fitted. That'd be £140 for the radio, and £40 for fitting. Total: £180. Wallet pain: Acute.

Not only do I smell a high score on the darts board, I also smell a rat. Work it out from the above.

Piñata on the nether region's too damn good for the sods who stole my radio/CD player. I kid you not, I wanna pull their lungs outta their bodies through their nostrils - and that's the printable version. If I wrote what I wanted to do to them afterwards, I'd be locked up and they'd throw away the bleedin' key.

I think, after all this is done and dusted, I'll be getting a new car alarm fitted.

The military kind.

The kind wired to five pounds of very high explosives.

Wrapped around four pounds of assorted loose shrapnel.

Under the drivers' seat.

The Sales Message for this kind of alarm, by the way, is "If you want it and break into it, you get to buy the farm too".

Well... it's a nice idea, if nothing else.

But I still have to shell out for a new stereo

Sunday, 4 January 2009

More on those On Suicide Jockies...

So... here I am on a weeks' leave, and I got thinking on those damned cyclists again, mainly as earlier on today a whole bunch of 'em passed by where I'm staying right now, looking rather... shall we say... frozzed. Serves 'em right. It's the middle of winter, it's about "minus I don't wanna guess about it" out there, and in any case they're completely round the "U" bend anyhow, in my not so humble opinion!

Anyhow, it got me thinking and wondering about that Furious Cycling charge that one could face, circumstances permitting, so I looked it up....

Under S.35 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 (as amended by s. 1(2) of the Criminal Justice Act 1948) Furious Cysling is defined in Statute Law as follows:

“35. Drivers of carriages injuring persons by furious driving Whosoever, having the charge of any carriage or vehicle, shall by wanton or furious driving or racing, or other wilful misconduct, or by wilful neglect, do or cause to be done any bodily harm to any person whatsoever, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and being convicted thereof shall be liable, at the discretion of the court, to be imprisoned for any term not exceeding two years.”

So, there you have it. If a copper decides to stop and charge a suicide jockey for a bone-headed stunt performed on the roads, that results in injury to another, then the cyclist might, if the soft centred court (a) finds him/her guilty, and (2) decides not to be soft, be looking at two years. Well, one year inside the rest on licence.

As if.

The court is more likely to dismiss the case, and have the copper charged for wasting the courts valuable dinner time instead.

Frankly, It's highly unlikely any two wheeled pedal powered suicide Jockey'll ever face justice...


Hang on...

I mis-spoke myself.

It did happen, once, but not by the courts. About fifteen years back or so, when I worked in another profession, the following happened at the junction of Whitehall and Northumberland Avenue, at the crossing point. The green man light had just lit, allowing pedestrians to cross, when out of nowhere a pedal cycle courier (the maddest of the suicidally minded) came rocketting across the crossing.

Well... half way, anyhow.

A rather elderly - but VERY swift on the reactions front - lady managed to deliberately get her umbrela point stuck in his front wheel.

Which obviously locked up.

Physics being what it is, the equal and opposite reaction then sent him nose-first over the handlebars at about whatever mph he'd been travelling at (he was shifting rather swiftly it should be noted), the rest of his bike following him in a 180-degree arc, to come to a sudden and noisy halt on the road surface.

He landed very messily, thank you.

Said old lady calmly retrieved her now slightly mangled umbrella, and walked on without a backward glance.

As did the rest of us pedestrians, chortling - no, guffawing, truth be told - very merrily on our way to work.

I never did find out who she was. But I scanned the papers for a week afterwards, in case she'd been done by the Police. No trace of the event was ever reported in the papaers that I could find, it didn't make the news on the telly, and that was the last I knew of it.

But I'll always rememvber the expression on her face as the courier augered into the tarmac.

It was the expression of long awaited exultant victory!

Now, it's unlikely that she's reading this blant, but on the off-chance that she's become a silver surfer and has found it: May I offer you my sincere congratulations on that victory for common sense justice!

Anyhow, I can hear you asking "what has tis got to do with buses?" Answer: Nothing, but damn, I'm grinning evilly at the memory of the now flat-faced courier, and I hope you are too! Have a great week!

Saturday, 3 January 2009

holy blog revival, batman - and a rant, of course.

Oops. Realised it's three months since my last entry - sorry!

Anyhow, on with the rant - I mean blant.

Car criminals. I know what I'd like to do to 'em, but unfortunately I've run outta places to hide the bodies, my tee-shirt says, so it must be true.

Why am I telling you this?

Easy. Some bloody low-IQ herbert with delusions of adequacy broke into my car - somehow circumventing my alarm and locking system, which WERE engaged, by the way), and stole my car's CD/Tuner and a couple of items (not vitally important but very annoying) out of the boot.

The Police treat this kind of thing as "low level crime", as it happens far too often, mostly, it should be said, in places where you'd expect, like council estates, certain multi-story car parks, dimly lit strets at night, and so on, not either outside your home, or at your cctv-infested workplace. As a result, they hardly ever come out to examine the scene of the crime (using SOCOs, or Scenes Of Crime Officers in UK parlance, not CSIs, which is much grander and impressive-sounding American term for it).

So. Now we get onto the meat of my anger and venom.

The Insurance Companies.

In order to keep my insurance (5 years protected no claims, no less) costs low, I went with the higher excess amounts. a ton for things like theft, three tons for everything else. Most of us in the real world do this, and the insurance companies know it. They actually encourage it. Saves from people like me claiming on their insurance for things like, say, stolen car stereos. Which cost less than the excess.

Never mind the Police bleating on about motor crime figures.

Never mind all of the bleating left-wing soppy liberal crud about them not being cuddled by mummy as a brat.

Never mind the fact that this is so bloody annoying - no scratch that, so blasted infuriating that I'd love to take a baseball bat, with 6-inch nails poking out the end, to the offender(s?) in question, and play high-velocity high-impact piñata on them below their waists above their knees.

In the words of the oft misquoted (like now) rugby song "one red one, one white one" - I WANT MY BLEEPING STEREO BACK!!!!!