A Good Start to the day

September 28, 2006

With important international, work, and domestic events looming large, what better to do than to dwell on the minutiae of life? Today, the pendulum of minutiae (the minutiulum?) swung in my favour. Arriving at the station on my journey this morning, with the train already standing at the platform, and a rugby-acquired back injury forcing me to walk with the speed and grace of Old Man Steptoe, I did not have time to queue up to collect my daily fix of leftist propaganda. Seeing me hobble through, the chap at the news stand ran out of the back of the stall, handed me a copy of the Guardian, told me to hurry for the train, and to pay him tomorrow.

At a time when I’ve got a lot of things on my mind, to be recognised and trusted by a stranger means a great deal. Maybe we should all give someone the benefit of the doubt every now and then.

With that in mind, though, I’m now 70p up. If I feign ignorance tomorrow morning (which I find surprisingly easy, to be honest) and forget to pay for today’s paper, I may put this windfall toward my future, and buy 0.005 8pc ’21 UK Gilts. Unless anyone’s got a better idea what to do with it, that is…

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Journey home

September 14, 2006

Where am I?

What time is it?

Why are there no lights on?

Who on earth is he?

I do hope he’s not a member of the hoi polloi. I’ve read ever such unflattering things about them in The Economist.

Above is a brief précis of the thoughts bandying around inside my head at about 1.20 this morning. The circumstances leading up to this inner monologue are probably best understood before I go any further.

After a typically rewarding day at the office, I went out for half a lager shandy with some friends. I finally extricated myself from the vice-like grip of their combined wit at about 11.20, and enjoyed a brief jaunt down to Fenchurch Street Station to get the train home.

Arriving at Fenchurch St, everything was good. Faced with 2 trains to choose from, I opted for the 2345. It goes via the faster of the two possible routes, and terminates at my station. In a worst case scenario, I’ll fall asleep on the train, and be woken up by the driver a mere 8 minutes walk away from my house. And as an added bonus, it’s not the last train — I had avoided the Vomit Comet. Life — for a nice change — seemed to be dealing me the good cards. I landed a nice conversation on the flop, and the turn had yielded a good train home.
So I settled down on the train with the cryptic crossword. I struggled to get one clue, and then fell asleep.

And that brings us back up to date.

After a few bleary seconds and a Looney Tunes doubletake, it turns out the train arrived promptly in Grays. There it sat for 15 minutes — with me asleep inside it — until the driver got into the other end, and went back to the depot in East Ham. With me asleep inside it. This rendered me significantly outside of a comfortable 8 minute walk home. I had bet all my chips, and the river had been dealt from the bottom of the pack.

In a way, it all turned out OK. Because they should have checked the train before taking it back to the depot, the train company picked up the 50 quid tab for the cab home. The only problem is that in between waiting for the cab, and the length of the journey home, I didn’t get to bed until about 3am. Thus, in spite of my modest RCP-based successes of the day, I find myself right now flagging faster than a semaphorist at the Battle of Jutland.

I am not a morning person.

Recent evidence would rather point to me not being much of an afternoon person either. And my evenings have been decidely shoddy recently too. But I digress.

The 40 minutes on the train to work typically involves being party to miscellaneous high-volume halfwittery. Recent favourites include

  • phone conversations to the office concerning which phone conversations to have when they get to the office.
  • an in-depth comparison of the weight of various celebrities (apparently, I tip the scales at around 2.4 Beckhamweight — Victoria, not David).
  • a 35 minute conversation about pies.

Needless to say, I’m not always terribly chipper upon alighting from the train. The very last thing I want to do, then, is to run the gauntlet of the swarms of all-too-happy-if-you-know-what-I-mean automatons in matching T-shirts pushing warm soft drinks, matching shampoo and pool cue sets, and — by far the worst — myriad free “news”papers. If I ever felt a sudden and unexplained urge to read such a  publication, I would be perfectly happy to pick it up for myself. I do not want rows of the literary equivalent of a wet mackerel waved in my face first thing in the morning. I find it hard to completely snub people, so to have to mope for 15m wishing pestilence upon these harbingers of drivel sets me off on a rotten foot for the rest of the walk to the office.

The only exception I would ever make to this principled stance is for the ES Lite. When Satan puts on his thermals because winter’s drawing in, and I feel it necessary to read this tat, I am happy to have that handed to me.  Any newspaper whose selling point is to be just like the Evening Standard, but with even less news in it, simply cannot be worth expending the energy necessary to pick it up.

A few years back, I bought some miscellaneous geekery from microwarehouse. I can’t even remember what it was, but I remember it being rather reasonably priced, and turning up in one piece.

Since then, having forgotten to tick a box — or forgotten to not tick a box — I’ve been getting their occasional promotional emails. Today, I tried to unsubscribe myself from this list. I’ve had times when doing this entails logging back into a site by remembering a username / password combination which I may have used on one occasion a few years ago before I can remove myself from their list.

But today, I clicked the ubiquitous unsubscribe link from their email. The resultant page contained one button marked “Confirm”, and details of the email address which I was removing. Press the button, and that’s it! I was so happy, I used the 8 minutes they just saved me to send them a thank-you email.

In light of well-known — and perhaps less well-known — thoughts on lock-in, this experience was so very refreshing. And even though I no longer have the most up-to-date prices of Precious infiltrate my inbox, the likelihood of me using microwarehouse for future purchases has just soared. For me, a well-meaning techie might just have done more for the image of the company than any number of advertisers or brand consultants can ever have done.