Wednesday, October 31, 2007
World's most expensive shuttle bus: 2 passengers (Phil and I)
Driver knowledge: Nil (Had to tell him which buttons to press on his ticket machine so I could get my 12 journey ticket. At least the ticket actually came out today!)
Ferrytoll Incidents: 1 (X57 held back for being too early, which led to...)
...Queue Jumpers: 1 (I know who you are)
Journey Home: Lift from Tricia
Drove to my mother's after work so as to avoid guisers, if I'm being honest. Can't stand them. I'm a fully paid up member of the turn off all the lights and hide club. Some turned up as I was pulling away from home. K says the joke they told was shit; not even funny in a surreal or childish way.
Returned home to find a "Chelsea Tractor" parked outside my house. I wouldn't mind but the driver wasn't even visiting us. Thank fuck next door are moving. Their friends and relations park outside our house instead of theirs, their kids do the toilet behind number 7's rubbish bins and they don't say "please" or "thank you" when they ask for their ball back after kicking over the fence for the umpteenth time that day (sometimes they don't even ask for it, they just leave it in my garden. So I do the same!) They WILL NOT be missed. Anyway, I left a note on his windscreen to the effect that they should show some consideration by parking outside the house they're actually visiting. (Not only that but they were parked on the pavement, which is illegal).
The driver's response was to stick my note back through the letterbox. Twat! I repeat, thank god they're moving.
Also received a letter today from Life Property Management who look after the ground maintenance of the local area. I sent them an e-mail with 20 questions, querying the last bill they sent us. I'm still awaiting a response. They're inviting all the local residents to a meeting to discuss various issues (I wonder if my lengthy missive triggered that) and to look at forming a residents' association. Who are they to tell us to form an Association? In principle it's a good idea but there is definitely a them and us split in the local area and I could never see it working.
After 4 months I finally received a full-ish reply from Greig Mailer of the Scottish Premier League about the fixture lists. My correspondence was instigated by the SPL deciding to start the season with the Edinburgh derby. It's one of the big games of the season but they wouldn't open the season with a Celtic-Rangers game so why the Edinburgh derby? The SPL claims that there is no bias towards any one club but the facts don't bear that out.
Anyway, rather than go over it all you can read the relevant thread on the Hibees Bounce website: http://www.hibeesbounce.com/forum/showthread.php?t=57643
Apparently I'll be quoted in tomorrow's Dunfermline Press about the bus problems. Heaven help them if they misquote me after the Christmas lights debacle of three years ago. (I'll save that saga for another day).
It's close to midnight...
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
I’ve had to swallow my pride and get the bus to work. I would have had to give the rooster a shake (no, that’s not a euphemism) if I had to get up any earlier. As it was I was at the bus stop at 0635, 25 minutes earlier than I used to when we had the direct X57.
The bus, a D7, one of their new leather-seated, WiFi enabled carriages, is completely empty. I ask the driver for a “single to Edinburgh” and he replies, “How much is that, any ideas?” I just can’t believe these drivers! Eventually he finds the right buttons, only for the ticket to fail to appear from the machine.
I choose a seat and await the flood of X57 refugees. One regular, a blonde girl, gets on at the next stop and that’s it until we reach the Ferrytoll Park and Ride! Stagecoach has boasted of putting 29 new buses on the roads of Fife at a cost of £4.5m, which means £155,172 per bus. The world’s most expensive shuttle bus!
Luckily I get off and join the queue for the next bus. Only the X57 and 55 stop where I need to get off for work and as sod’s law would have it it’s an X57 that turns up. It’s another one of the new fleet and I make the mistake of sitting in front of a woman whose sole topic of conversation, to anyone who’ll listen, is public transport. I’ve had enough of buses to last a lifetime and the last thing I need is to hear all about it on the way over the Forth Road Bridge en route to work. I get out my mp3 player and turn out.
My plan is to get a £23 bus ticket in the morning and, when I can’t get a lift from my friends, a Flexipass for the train home between Haymarket and Dunfermline Town, which retails at £34. But at least it’s £34 that isn’t going into Stagecoach’s coffers.
I’m more determined than ever to make some money (eBay?) so that I can get my own car. I’ve always been a keen supporter of public transport but enough is enough.
When I got to work this morning I found an e-mail from Laura Cummings at the Dunfermline Press wishing to speak to me about the public transport problems. And there’s me thinking that the Dunfermline Press hated me.
Luckily Tricia is doing the Body Attack class and has offered me a lift home. I’m not doing the class because I didn’t bring my stuff but I’ll work on to build up some flexi time, just in case I get any more radio interviews soon!
Monday, October 29, 2007
I spent last night agonising over how on earth I was going to get to work. I was going to walk to Rosyth and then get the train but then I realised I didn't have any money and there's no cash machine en route. I got so wound up about the whole situation that my depression got even deeper.
I came downstairs to watch Sky One's "Nothing But The Truth". Hosted by Jerry Springer, contestants are hooked up to a lie-detector and asked a tailored set of increasingly personal and risqué questions about their life. Participants must then truthfully answer a selection of these questions again in front of a studio audience, winning cash prizes along the way. Their closest friends, family and partners in the audience hearing every confession.
The first contestant last night was the double of Simon Day's Billy Bleach character from The Fast Show. I was half expecting him to say "Hold the bells, mate". He won £10000 relatively easily. Obviously it's looking for the shock value when friends and family find out something about the contestant that they didn't know but I don't know that I'll watch any more. The second contestant really annoyed me although she managed to upset her mother by confessing that she resented her mother bringing her back from China! I don't think my life will be any worse off by not watching this. (P.S. It was also rather annoying when Jerry kept lifting his glasses up everytime he needed to ask a question).
I e-mailed my supervisor last night to let her know I wouldn't be in today. My head is in such a mess. It's all over the place. I suggested that I change my hours from 8-4 to 9-5 so that I can get a lift to the train station with my wife in the morning. The other alternative is to get a job in Dunfermline but the biggest employers are Fife Council and the thought of working for them doesn't fill me with joy. I already told Steve Walker at Stagecoach that now that I'm driving I wouldn't be applying to be a bus driver. Do I look like a people person?I've deactivated my Facebook account and deleted my Bebo and MySpace accounts. I'd been with MySpace since 27 January 2006 and while I've made some new friends through it I'm finding it a chore. I'm not enjoying it and when it gets to that stage I'd rather just walk away. I wish I could do the same with my job. I like the people I work with but it just doesn't fulfil me. Last week when I was doing the various media stuff three people said to me "oh you're wasted in here". I KNOW. But I just can't get focused enough to see a clear way out of it. It's like I have a permanent black fog hovering around me and nothing I do will lift it. Answers on a postcard...
This morning's music on my 5-CD Changer (the one that I won on "Wheel of Fortune") is:
1. Ray Davies - Working Man's Cafe (V2)
2. Various - Run Mascara: Here Come The Girls Volume 3 (Sequel)*
3. Various - Playin' Hard To Get: West Coast Girls (Ace)
4. Various - Dead: The Grim Reaper's Greatest Hits (Ace)
5. Various - Swinging Mademoiselles: Groovy French Sounds From The 60s (Silva Screen)
* I'm still looking for volumes 2, 4, 5 and 6
Thank god for music.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
I sold a brand new sealed DVD to someone and I was a bit shocked to see a Neutral feedback had been left. It said: "quick dispatch thanks A+++".
I politely queried this with the buyer by asking if anything had been wrong and he responded, "I just commented on the quick dispatch and put A+++ I thought it went without saying that the item was fine or I would have left some observation accordingly. I was v.pleased with the transaction."
Naturally, I said "So why not leave a Positive then if nothing was wrong?". His response was, "I'd quit while you're ahead A++is fairly positive so don't flog a dead horse!"
I have resisted the temptation to send him a jobby in the post, but only just.
Tuesday 23 October: A colleague points that the Jock 'n' Roll website run by Dave and I is featured in the Metro. Although the Best and Worst Scottish Album polls closed a couple of months ago there is a piece about them (predominantly the Worst poll) on page 9. No sooner had I finished reading the article in question than Radio Scotland were on the phone asking for an interview (I've no idea how they got my number). They send a cab for me at 3.30pm and I'm whisked off to The Tun on Holyrood Road. Their Edinburgh studios are behind The Tun and are no doubt there for the proximity to the Scottish Parliament. I had interesting chat with the taxi driver about music. he'd been in bands. I mention a band called The Boston Dexters, who used to dress like gangsters, and he says, yes, we knew them, we used to call them The Bus Conductors!
After a 15-minute chat, which we transferred to one of the BBC Scotland phones, I finally introduce myself at the main reception. After a short wait I was shown into a small booth where I put on some headphones while I listened to the Newsdrive programme. Every 30 seconds I voice would appear in my ears saying something like "We'll be going to you soon Paul". The interview was light-hearted and over all too quickly. (A couple of people at work heard it and said it was funny so I was pleased). They got me a taxi back to my place of work and my friend Tricia gave me a lift home.
After putting my daughter to bed and having my tea I settle down to watch some of the football, only for my mobile to go again. It's Nicole from BBC Birmingham wanted to know if I'd like to do an interview about Jock 'n' Roll for Danny Kelly's radio show. They say they'll phone back later because they want to do it before the show so they can edit it and fit it in - fare enough. However, at 9.45pm, 15 minutes before his show is due to start Danny's producer Nicole calls back to say it's a bit tight for tonight and can we do it on Thursday night. Sure, I'm easy.
Wednesday 24 October: Today I had the day off as I was off to Glasgow for a game show audition (a new show called "Brainbox"). I dropped my wife and daughter off at pre-school and the train station respectively and headed back home to update the Jock 'n' Roll website. We'd missed a couple of other interview opportunities as I hadn't checked the Jock 'n' Roll mailbox for a few days, otherwise I would have been even busier! I reply to some e-mails and update some the website before preparing for my trip to Glasgow. The audition is held in the new BBC Scotland HQ at Pacific Quay. I call them to check on the parking arrangements and they say it's staff only but I can park in the Science Centre for £2 a day.
I've never driven as far as I did today, from Dunfermline to Glasgow along the M8. To be honest, it wasn't so much the motorway bit that bothered me as the getting to Pacific Quay. Three different motoring organisation website route planners have given me three different routes and I was left thoroughly confused (Do I get off at Junction 19, 20 or 24? God only knows). Although I'm driving through mid-morning, mid-week I've given myself loads of time. I miss Junction 19 (as recommended by the Brainbox people) as I was in the wrong lane so I get off at 20 and hope it's well signposted. It is and I begin to relax as I park the car.
I arrive about an hour and a half early for my 1 o'clock audition and let them know I'm here. They recommend the Science Centre for a reasonable lunch so I head over there for food and a £2 parking token, which gets you out of the car park. As I sit down for haddock, chips and peas I checked my phone and find a missed call. It's from Kevin Keane again who wants some more background on the Stagecoach X57 issue. My fish and chips go cold as I go over the numerous problems with Stagecoach and their disregard for passengers. The story can be found here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/edinburgh_and_east/7059825.stm
Fed and watered I head back to the BBC building. It is impressive but I'm reminded of a cruise liner. When you look into the building the floors each step back on the previous one. There are "soft" areas everywhere with plenty of meetings going on. As usual time in reception at auditions time is spent wondering who else is there for the show and today was no exception. I was pretty sure that one curly-haired girl was but i couldn't figure out who else. There was a woman with a couple of kids in tow but I didn't think it could be her.
A young lady approaches us and asks if anyone is here for Brainbox. I get up , along with the curly-haired girl and the woman with the two kids. As we get thelift up to the 2nd floor the curly-haired girl says she thinks she's seen me before but when she mentions "In It To Win It" I know she has the wrong person because I've never auditioned for that show, although it's not for the want of trying. It turns out that the woman with the kids, who I must say were remarkably well-behaved, have driven for four hours from Elgin to do the audition. That's what I call dedication.
We're all escorted into a little room and given a wee briefing. We have to do a test paper of some logic puzzles. The puzzles vary between word, number and logic puzzles. I only find one of them hard but I still managed 15 out of 25. The rest were, to be honest, a doddle. After the tests are over we're sent out to one of the numerous "soft" areas and we wait to be called back in one by one. (While I wait outside I notice that one of the open plan offices has a shed in the middle of it, a red one of that. I'm desperate to ask someone why it's there but I resist). The Elgin woman is called in first and then "Curly", whose name I either don't hear or completely forget. It turns out that she's from Dalgety Bay which is about 10 minutes from where I live. She tries to claim that Dalgety Bay is part of Dunfermline but I'm having none of it. To be honest, if I lived in Dalgety Bay I wouldn't want to associated with Dunfermline.
I'm not convinced that my interview went too well but you just never know what type of contestant they're looking for. I thanked them for their time, got the lift back down to the reception, handed in my pass and tried to remember where I had parked the car. The aisles of the car park are named after chemical elements and I knew mine was somewhere in the Be for Beryllium section. If I had thought my stress was over for the day I was sadly mistaken.
I set SatNav to go "Home" but it took me about half an hour to get from the Science Centre to the motorway. I got lost in the Govan/Ibrox area and I felt very uncomfortable. At one point the SatNav sent me up a one-way street the wrong way. I only realised when I saw two lines of traffic coming towards me! I eventually got onto the motorway and it was relatively pain free after that. I pick up my daughter from pre-school and my wife from the train station, however the journey is rather fractious as my wife thinks it's appropriate to criticise my driving. This prays on my mind for the rest of the week.
Thursday 25 October: : My good lady was off to Manchester with her pal so I dropped them both off at Waverley train station for their 0720 train. I got to work at 0645 - I don't start until 0800 but if you're not early you end up parked miles away.
I gave my first proper lifts since I passed my test. I took Lisa and Louise home. Lisa lives in Rosyth (but not for much longer) and Louise was staying with her boyfriend not far from where I live. I got very down on myself because I wanted to impress them that I could drive but a few stalls dented my confidence and I was a bit of a nervous wreck afterwards. I particularly bad stall got me rather annoyed with myself and I kept having to apologise to Louise, who is learning to drive just now. I feel like crying when I get home.
I try and cheer myself up with a Prawn and Onion Balti (homemade I stress) before I do the BBC Birmingham interview. Nicole phones to ask if they can do the interview early. Sure. The interview goes on for about 7 minutes but I get the feeling that the interviewer is rather distracted towards the end of it. Then I remember that he's an Everton fan and they're playing Larissa in the UEFA Cup on channel Five. It could've been funnier and lighter but his questions didn't really lead it that way, which was a shame.
I tape Grey's Anatomy for my wife but I end up watching it anyway. I'm still depressed when I go to bed.
Friday 26 October: I'm up early and into work early again. I manage to get through to the "Beat It" competition on Forth One's Breakfast Show. They play one beat from a record and you have to say what it is. I guess at "House of Fun" by Madness but it, along with everyone else's guesses, is wrong.
Saturday 27 October:
The main thing that came out of the meeting was no matter how many objections are made to Stagecoach plans nothing can be done to change them because they're a "commercial entity". The process is that they contact fife Council to make them aware of any changes to routes and when they rubber-stamp it Stagecoach then give the requisite notice to the Traffic Commissioner (between 8 and 11 weeks depending on who you ask).
The irony is that Fife Council and Stagecoach want everyone to "go green" by leaving their cars behind and using public transport. But Stagecoach then blow their green credentials out of the water by boasting of 29 new buses in Fife, at a cost of £4.5m (£400m according to the ever-accurate Dunfermline Press). Their carbon footprint must be the equivalent of Sideshow Bob's feet.
Sunday 28 October: The depression hasn't lifted and I can't bear the thought of spending time "in company". It's my mother-in-law's birthday today but as much as I like her I can't face pretending to be happy when I'm obviously not.
Notwithstanding the general depression washing over me, I hate my job because it doesn't push me (I've lost count of the number of people who say to me "you're wasted here") and I can't use my creative skills and now I can't even get a direct service to the job I hate. There are other problems but they're way too personal for this forum.
My plan is to walk to Rosyth station and get a train from there. Sod Stagecoach. Less Fuss By Bus, my arse!
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Over the next few weeks you can expect to hear about my not-so-random thoughts on Stagecoach, Fife Council, work, televison and radio, my Jock 'n' Roll Site (Co-founded with mate Dave), the Dunfermline Press and all manner of inane trivia.
I've not been well recently and this is in no small way down to a number of frustrations in my life. Some of which I'll share with you, the whole wide world, and some I won't, because they're just too personal. I'm sure you understand.
Meanwhile, here's a link to the Jock 'n' Roll website, which featured heavily in the press last Tuesday. But more on that another day.