Tag Archives: travel

A month in Marrakesh

I lived in Marrakesh for a while, a few days, minutes or months ago. Time has never really been my strong point. I’m the type of person who says ‘a few days ago’ and that can mean anything from yesterday to when I was a child. Anyway, I went and lived in Marrakesh for a month, just for something to do really, to see if I could break the monotony of life, of which there is plenty when you live in a humdrum village full of pubs and gossips.

I went to Marrakesh during Ramadan. A few people had told me it would be an interesting time to go. I didn’t really know what this meant because any time going to a foreign land should be interesting, right? Basically what interesting meant in this context, as far as I can work out, was that nowhere was selling booze out there.

For people from anywhere other than the UK this wouldn’t be a problem. For us UKians, it’s a fucking nightmare. It’s shit being in a city without booze, especially when you have no idea when the religious festivities are going to be over so you can quench that thirst.

What do they expect us to do? Sit patiently and wait for them to decide that this religious nonsense has gone on long enough? Should they not at least build some sort of medical booze tent in the centre of the city for us sunburnt tourists to go and get plastered in? Perhaps a kebab shop just outside the tent for us to shout at the owners in after a day on the golden nectar. I really don’t think that is too much to ask for, do you? They should really put some sort of system in place for next year before the British tourists in the city begin thinking it’s time to reform the Empire!

Anyway, thanks to my British upbringing, after a few hours of being in the city I managed to sniff out the only place in Marrakesh that was selling booze. There are three supermarkets in the city and of course the one the furthest from my fucking apartment was the only one of the three selling beer. A walk of 2km every other fucking day was in order, to fill up a bag full of beautiful beverages and then walk home in the sweltering 40-degree heat. At least I was sweating out all of the beer from the previous day, can’t hurt I guess.

After about two weeks of this and just as I’d had enough of this walk, finally the religious barrier was lifted. I’m not even religious for fuck’s sake. Ramadan was over, the cafés, restaurants, bars and other supermarkets slowly began to regain their wits and put beer back on their menus. It was like the end of some natural disaster in a film, the dust settling and people emerging blinking onto the streets.

And finally they allowed us tourists to take over once more. Travellers could be spotted climbing out of their holes, dusting off their Hawaiian shirts and swimming shorts and walking into bars where they smiled, laughed and drank merrily. It was a magical time.

What are they thinking taking religious values over money for a month anyway? Throughout the two weeks of Ramadan I was there, I had countless tourists coming up to me asking if I knew where to buy beer. I don’t know why they asked me – perhaps the comfort in my stride lead them to believe that I was half cut. I was very proud of myself as the only bastard in the city to know where to buy booze, at least for those two weeks.

I promise you that I did a little bit more than just drink beer while I was there. I also walked around half drunk, pointed tourists in the direction of the oasis that I had found, got into amazing conversations with Moroccans about their drug habits and my drink habits, and even drank the wine as well. It is fair to say that for the most part I was a typical English tourist for a month in Marrakesh.

Recalculating

Technology is all around us. You can’t miss it, because most people are absolutely obsessed with it. Everything has to have something technical included – heck, we can’t even buy a watch without it having internet access, and it seems that everywhere we go people are becoming more and more attached to their gizmos and gadgets.

This is great, in theory. Because, moaner though I may be, I am all for the moving forward of the human race. Everything has to develop, and if that means making everyone’s toaster Instagram-enabled then so be it.

But what about when your technology lets you down? What do you do then?

Because the truth is that we’re all becoming a little bit thick. We don’t know how to do anything on our own. Only the other day, I was driving round the countryside, a place that I had never been to before, with my trusty Sat Nav blasting directional advice in my face every five seconds. And then, suddenly, the fucking thing packed in. There I was, surrounded by fields – unfamiliar ones at that – and the only thing my usually-helpful Sav Nav lady had to say was “recalculating, recalculating, recalculating”. But she never finished the job.

Don’t get me wrong – I am no irresponsible driver. Of course I carry a map. But what I realised on that day was that carrying it was one thing, and fucking reading it was another. I didn’t know which direction I was heading, I didn’t know what road I was on (Sat Nav was supposed to be taking care of that) and to be perfectly honest I don’t think I could read a map if I was paid to.

After a few minutes of utter panic, I managed to download a list of directions on my phone that I had to pull over and refer to embarrassingly frequently for the rest of the journey. So the iPhone saved the day. I shudder to think what would have happened if I’d had no battery – a situation I find myself in a lot thanks to my general state of disorganisation.

I am somewhat comforted by the fact that it’s not just me who doesn’t know what to do in cases of technological malfunction. Or at least I would be comforted if the situations I found myself in weren’t been so fucking irritating.

I am a keen fan of online banking. Honestly, it’s brilliant. You just log in, tell the bank where you want your money to go, and it’s there at the click of a button. But, sometimes, something goes wrong and you need to get in touch with the call centre staff. Oh now then, don’t we all fucking love call centre staff. The people who are clearly thrilled to be alive, to be sitting at their desk, taking our calls.

The one I got through to on this occasion was a particular pleasure – coughing down the phone without apology, asking all kinds of irritating security questions that I was certain I hadn’t set up, before going on to say, “Oh I’m sorry, we can’t do that for you at the moment, because our system is down”. What? I cannot pay a simple bill because their system is down? Well that’s fucking shit, because you have my money in that system, and you’re not letting me get to it.

Isn’t it worrying that something as important as banking can “go down” without warning, and without any hint of when the service might be up and running again? Even scarier was the lack of knowledge about what to do in such an event. I asked if I could leave details, or could I get a call back later when things were working, and the girl on the other end just stuttered something about the system being down. Yes, I got that bit. So here we are, in 2015, unable to access our own money because “the bank is down”!

As a society, we’re fucking shit at doing things on our own. Our parents and grandparents had nothing like we do, yet they’d be perfectly capable of getting from A to B and sorting their own finances out without any help from technology at all. So thanks, technology. You’ve turned us into a load of incapable dunces. Do me a favour – if you want us to rely on you, which we do, at least fucking work.

Counting cadavers

It can’t be easy being Nigel Farage. I could end it there I suppose, to a round of applause and sage nodding from whoever read that sentence, but I honestly find myself feeling sorry for the jowly twat from time to time.

Not when he was photographed in the wreckage of that plane, of course. It’s possible I’ve never laughed more than when I saw that photo of him seemingly in tears, surrounded by wings, fins, fuselage and whatever diabolical banner he’d been dragging along behind the aircraft. But when a man is forced to defend the reduction of money spent on sea patrols stopping migrants popping over from Libya, while faced with hundreds of bobbing corpses gently nudging the walls of Valetta, you do wonder what he thinks as he peers at his rubbery face in the mirror before bed at night. “Oh no, I’m really evil” must be up there I’d have thought.

Nevertheless poor Nigel must stick to his guns amid the carnage in the Mediterranean, while the rest of us are able to stare in horror at the condition we’ve allowed the human race to get to that leads to people so desperate to get to Europe they’ll gladly accept the risk of terrifying wet death. One of the survivors said he was heading for Austria. Even the reporter sounded confused.

And yet as I watched the rolling news on the day of the biggest recent tragedy, horror turned to anger at one of the lines I read across the bottom of the screen: “800 feared dead, including 250 women”.

Well, fuck. I hadn’t planned to care about these 800 people when I thought they were all men, but now you’ve told me well over a quarter had a vagina I’m straight on the line to my MP demanding action; ideally action involving the immediate execution of 250 men – doesn’t matter who they are, a few Welsh choirs maybe – to redress the balance.

I’m no feminist, and many feminists would probably view me as unreconstructed scum. I joke about women down the pub with mates, though no more than anyone else and certainly no more than that shrieking gaggle of drunken harpies over there is joking about us. I often call women ‘birds’, not to their face, and occasionally call one ‘love’, to her face. Yet I’ve never been slapped by a woman, they don’t seem to view me as anything other than a normal man and as far as I know I treat women with the same respect I do men outside of a spot of light-hearted buggering about.

All of that would send various feminists into a tailspin I have no doubt. I don’t care. And the reason I don’t care is that there are so many far, far worse things people do to women that we – men and women – should be working together to put an end to. Rape is used as a weapon of war, incredibly. Men in certain parts of the world view women as property, or think that a woman out on her own at night, or out with a male friend she’s not related to, is somehow fair game or asking for it (‘it’ in that case stretching all the way up to brutal murder). Women are killed by their own families for ‘dishonouring’ them. Levels of pay equality between men and women are atrocious. Women are routinely persecuted by various religions that command countless millions, billions even, of followers around the world. All of this is outrageous beyond measure.

Nevertheless, the notion that women are inherently more important than men to the extent that they consistently warrant a unique mention in death tolls is infuriating. Can you promise me that the men on that boat were in some way less vital than the women? I doubt their families would agree, if the poor sods are ever identified. Can there be any logical justification for ‘including 250 women’?

To some extent I understand it when children get a separate mention. I don’t share the same obsession with kids that some do; not in the Watkins sense, but in that ‘won’t someone think of the children’ way that some people have. It seems to be a huge thing for some people, parents and weirdos mostly, but we can let that pass.

And when a ship’s going down, and the men are expected to stand aside for the ‘women and children first’, I get that too. Men are expected to exhibit some degree of gallantry or chivalry and die first, probably because it was their kind who built a shoddy vessel or left the bow doors open having got pissed in the Boar’s Head an hour before leaving the jetty.

But when it comes to telling me how many people have perished in the latest atrocity, tragedy or natural disaster I really don’t find myself hoping beyond hope that every victim has a cock. It’s bewildering that there’s someone in a news room asking the question, “But how many women died?” And how many Mongolians? How many blondes? How many people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome? They’ll be hoping for a small figure for that last one. It’s amazing that the people counting cadavers evidently separate them into two categories based on the chromosomes they possess.

People are people and they die all the time. It’s sad when it happens. Still, corpses are lifeless hulks of meat that we burn to make space for a replacement, and nothing more. Regardless of how men are all bastards and we’re the ones who’ve created the dreadful world we all fearfully step into each morning, praying none of the many terrors we’ll face are awful enough to end us, it’s not more sad when a woman dies than when a man does.

And though it will entertain me long into the afternoon wondering what my first question would have been had Nigel Farage died in that plane crash, I’m damn sure it wouldn’t have been: “But how is his wife?”

Overtake me

I’m 24 years old, and I get a fuck load of abuse from my friends due to the fact that I don’t yet have a driving licence. Up until now, I’ve managed to convince myself that it really doesn’t matter too much. I can get the bus! I have lots of friends who drive! I like walking! The excuses go on.

Did you know that the average age to pass a driving test in the UK is 23 for a female? This is what I cling to when I’m explaining myself but, at 24, I’m creeping away from the average – so something has to change. I’m on the road, I have my L plates, and I’m well on my way to getting that licence that I’ve managed to avoid for so long.

Am I happy about it? I suppose so. I mean, journeys will be much more convenient when I can just go whenever and wherever I like. But the one thing I’ve learned, above everything else, is that the other people on the road are absolute fucking wankers. Seriously – I’ve never been one for anger issues, but just a few short weeks behind the wheel has changed that forever.

Cars are wonderful things. They can take us to where we want to be, and they can let other people know what we plan to do with their handy built-in indicator feature. Is this feature a new invention, you may ask? No! Indicators have been on cars for decades, so why the fuck does the entire country seem to have developed such an allergy to them?

I don’t like taking risks or living on the edge. I’m the ‘safest’ person I know, therefore I like to wait for a good gap at a roundabout. This is all well and good when people indicate – if you’re coming off at the exit before I’m joining, I can go! But they do not fucking tell you. It’s not much effort. It’s the flick of a wrist at most, and being such a load of wankers they can’t be out of practice, yet the action seems to evade them.

I also pride myself on sticking to the speed limit most of the time. Unlike the stereotypical learner who drives at 10mph pretty much everywhere, I have no problem with a bit of speed. I drive at 30 in a 30, 40 in a 40 and 60 in a 60 – but it would seem that seeing L plates on the back of a car just screams “overtake me”, no matter how fast I’m going at the time. It sounds like something you’d hear on Grand Prix racing. The revving of an engine, the sound as the car passes, and the gentle slowing of the revs as they settle back in front of you like the smug “I have a driving licence” bastards that they are.

I did achieve some level of satisfaction last week when I reached the top of a hill and found a speed trap on the other side – because the idiot who had overtaken me must have been caught, as he was going at least 80mph, which is just ridiculous. To the people who feel the need to speed past when we’re near houses or schools: get a fucking grip. You won’t bully me into speeding when there could be kids about, no way. Dirty your conscience, but leave mine alone.

So what have I learned from my driving lessons so far? Well, I’m a lot angrier than I thought, though my mood does improve the second I pull back onto my drive. Also, most of the road-based human population are utter dickheads, though I already had my suspicions about that one.

When explaining to others why I hadn’t learned to drive at the age of 17, I garbled a load of rubbish about how I was saving money, saving time, saving energy. Now I realise the only thing I was saving was anger. Perhaps I need to buy a punch bag before I head out again.

Beep beep

That’s it, you put me in my place, assertive, impressive specimen that you are.

That’s what you were doing, presumably. You were telling me that you could kill me if you wanted to, just by changing the angle of a lower joint in your right leg. It’s incredible that it’s so easy to destroy a life, but that’s just how powerful you are.

That’s what you were telling me when you beeped your horn, wasn’t it?

About 25 minutes ago I was crossing a road. Now, I won’t claim to have been legging it across, given that it’s Friday, and Thursday is the new Friday, and therefore my insides want out and I’m as tired as a baby just after its mid-morning shit. ‘Sauntering’ best describes it.

I had no reason to be tearing across the street like a pursued gazelle in the Serengeti because when I started crossing the road there were no cars coming. It’s quite a wide road at that point, though it’s one-way. About 30% of the way across a little black motor hove into view, trundling towards me. Well now, this could be interesting.

The mental calculation I made at that point would put Poincaré to shame. I’m already a fair way across. He’s obviously seen me. By the time he reaches me I’ll be more than halfway across the lane he’s travelling in unless he actively chooses to speed up. He won’t speed up because the lights, about 15 metres beyond the spot I’m crossing the road, are red. I’m crossing just behind another car, beyond which the little black motor can’t travel without pre-warning his insurance company.

All this caused me to make a momentous decision. I chose not to speed up; I continued sauntering. I wandered leisurely across the road like a man who imbibed more cider last night than the NHS has budget for and whose life-saving bottle of orange Lucozade Sport ran out some way back down the Embankment.

This, evidently, caused the driver of said small black car to experience a fit of fury the likes of which hasn’t been seen since the last time someone sent you one of those hilarious Hitler parody videos, which was probably yesterday, or just now. How dare this mere pedestrian refuse to bow to my obvious superiority. I am a car driver. Rarely has the world witnessed such outrage. Right, that’s it. I’m beeping him.

Actually it’s for his benefit that I do. This puny biped must understand the power of a motor vehicle controlled by a considered, wise, compassionate driver such as myself. I could kill him easily by applying a little pressure just here, but I won’t. Instead, I’ll warn him with sound. Perhaps he will consider his actions more carefully in the future. And perhaps the fact that I gain nothing, he ignores me and I look like an illogical twat given the circumstances will go unnoticed by the people on the pavement who look minorly startled by my pressing my steering wheel.

You see them in town centre traffic jams, sitting there helplessly as pedestrians walk past smiling. How dare they smile? Don’t they understand I could be somewhere else, somewhere important, having a meeting or saving a life on the surgeon’s table or putting out a fire or taking a mistress roughly from behind? I don’t see how honking my horn is going to help any of us move any faster, because obviously if anyone ahead of me could move they probably would do, but I’m going to hit the horn anyway. People must know how unhappy I am with all this, because I am a car driver, and therefore I matter.

As a simple user of public transport I might be dismissed as irrelevant but for the fact I passed my test 20 years ago and have owned cars in the past. I’ve driven many cars in my life, most of them Fords named after porn magazines, but to the best of my knowledge the only time I’ve used a horn is on a terrifying blind corner in a country lane wide enough for just over one small car, where there’s a 45% chance there’ll be a tractor coming the other way and the driver’s too deaf or too stupid to hear a horn anyway. But you beep it, because if you die without having done that you’ll feel like a right bellend as a giant tyre pushes its way through your face.

It works in New York; I see that. Beeping your horn in the New York gridlock is a cultural thing, just like Italian footballers diving like Daley is a cultural thing, though that hardly makes it right. People on a Manhattan sidewalk are probably immune to the sound by now anyway.

But England is an entirely quieter place. We’re not brash, or overly demonstrative. We don’t shout much. We don’t alarm one another with pointless, sudden noises, unless, it seems, we’re behind the wheel of a car, because then all bets are off and by gum I WILL make you understand just how important it is I save that 1.5 seconds of you being in my way. Yes, I’ll spend that second and a half sitting behind that other car there but if you think I’m going to let you continue to stroll in such a nonchalant manner on my road you must be madder than Lubitz.

Let me inform you, drivers of the world, that if you choose not to run me over but instead beep your pathetic little horn I will continue to completely ignore you, as I did that arsehole this morning. This will enrage you, and I will laugh and possibly have my revenge on the internet.

I will continue to walk at the pace I want and if you choose instead to mow me down I will be dead and you will be jailed, which means only one of us can be bent over in the laundry by Big Geoff. I have all the power in this relationship; the weedy pedestrian trumps your metal box. Beep beep.

Heaven Below

There are roughly 9 million residents of the fair city of New York, and most of them are forced to regularly engage with the dark, piss-soaked abyss of the subway system. Unless you can walk to work (rare) take taxis everywhere (expensive) or are homeless (sucks), or you have a death wish and choose to cycle to work (which I did often, sometimes arriving at my office genuinely surprised at still being alive), you are hereby sentenced to share a very small, sealed space for an unpredictable amount of time, at least twice every day for the rest of your working life. You will share air, germs, unwelcome advances, viruses, silences, stares, frustration, judgement, proselytising, uncomfortable temperatures, standing space, uncomfortable seats, screeching noise, and a variety of smells (good and bad, often very bad) that you cannot escape, with every other cog like you.

During your sentenced subway rides, you will encounter (often intimately) people you otherwise would not have believed existed. In that human-as-spectacle sense, the experience will be fascinating. Documentarians, take note: the New York subway provides more of an in-depth look at the private lives of modern city dwellers than any film you could ever hope to produce. Where else could you expect to find such a diverse cross-section of people, and in such intimate detail? It is both unexpected and illuminating to witness the usually-private rituals of people who are so rushed for time that they are forced to carry out their morning hygiene practices on the train, shoulder-to-shoulder with their neighbours. To wit, during one oppressively hot summer morning commute I learned that the man sitting one seat over preferred to clip the toenails of his left foot first, and that the woman jamming her colossal behind into the too-small space between me and toenail man suffered from early morning flatulence. What’s more, had I not been crammed onto that seat I might never have noticed the “Heaven Below” tattoo that was peeking out from the expanse of her buttocks as she descended on me. Heaven itself, in all its blazon glory was amongst us on the morning subway!

Without this slow and uncomfortable underground journey, I might never have known the sheer scale of a truly enormous ass. I have born witness to asses so big they cover three subway seats with ease, spreading across the hard plastic like a non-Newtonian fluid. What’s more, without the subway I might have continued to assume that the only place I could throw garbage was into a garbage can. No longer must I endure the indignity of holding my own trash until I find a suitable receptacle to dispose it in. Now when the subway doors open at each stop I can throw my empty wrappers or the thoroughly-sucked bones from my bucket of fried chicken onto the platform before the doors close and the subway leaves, my dignity intact. If that isn’t American freedom, then I don’t know what is!

So thank you, New York City subway. I have learned many valuable lessons from my countless forays into your often foul and stinking belly. I know you are not just a vessel to transport me from A to B and back again in a slow grind to old age and dissatisfaction; you are my resting place when I am too drunk to stand, my toilet when I can’t hold it any longer, my conjugal bed when the time just gotta be right here, right now. Thank you for reminding me that I am not above the struggle; rather I am in the shit with all of your followers, and I’d better take something to shield the nail clippings and fried chicken bones flying at my face. Or get out and fucking walk.

A weird, dehydrated sort of grey

A man sneezes into a woman’s face and, instead of apologising, buries his head back in his book, ignoring her murderous stare. A bawling child cries for more chocolate at a decibel level that makes my kidneys plait a noose out of my intestines and prepare to step off a chair. And a selfish boy sits on the floor taking the space of five people with his splayed out legs and fucking book bag. Bet none of the books in that fucking book bag are about common decency. Bet there aren’t any shittwatting books in it at all.

Where am I? No, not an enchanted forest or a fairy tale land where dreams really do come true but on the 7.40am South West train to London Waterloo, where talking squirrels get slowly suffocated to death by the crowd and dreams go a weird, dehydrated sort of grey.

I hate this place more than any other place in the world and I’m throwing Jimmy Savile’s house and abattoirs into the mix for comparison here. Because not only do I basically have to crowbar my nose out of someone’s armpit twice a day, every day for the foreseeable future, but I’m having to pay escalating ticket prices to do it. Prices that mop up a quarter of my wages after tax. It’s not like we can just hop on another train line and chuckle at the idiots using the other system, their faces pressed against the train window in an effort to siphon the last bit of air that might exist between the molecules of the glass. No, our train system has been monopolised, and us as train commuters are on our knees, looking tearfully up at the shareholders while they unzip their fly and whisper ominously, “While you’re down there…”

Because, according to BBC News, that’s where 90% of the operating profits are actually going – straight into the pockets of overfed shareholders. You would have thought that after a series of hikes totalling over 30% in the last three years they’d have enough for even the priciest bottle of orphan’s tears or whatever it is they drink, but is enough ever really enough? Look around, this gaping void between rich and poor is growing wider and soon it’ll swallow all us oiks up, burping out a couple of our astonished hats for good measure.

Signal failures on a daily basis, overcrowding, general delays and poor carriage maintenance are one thing (or rather four things) but our continuing tolerance of it is quite another. Why are we putting up with this? Brazil didn’t. Hundreds of people took to the streets last year after a 9% rise in bus ticket prices, from 2.75 reais to 3 reais. That’s the equivalent of a rise from 70p to 80p in the UK. Thanks to the uproar created by the people, the government reversed the increase.

Yesterday, after a series of delays that left me late for work despite leaving the house half an hour earlier than normal, being crammed into yet another armpit and losing my iPod during the journey, I arrived at the office semi-combusted from an internal and wholly impotent sense of fury. I was incensed and expressed my disapproval in a very British manner by pursing my lips and inaudibly muttering “shitfuck” at regular intervals. I searched for protests and demonstrations about the shoddy, overpriced travel systems in London and couldn’t find a thing.

In fact, my online Google search for justice unearthed a snowstorm of shitty comments from people who have the luxury of not having to use the trains for work. Comments such as ‘Those who use the trains should pay for it not the general taxpayer who can not even afford to use it’. Oh, right, yes that’s fine because I don’t currently pay tax. As a rail user, I’m completely exempt from all forms of payment into the system. In fact, when I go into a shop I only need to pull out my monthly railcard for all the shop attendants to come running at me from every corner and start piling the finest silks and myrrh into my smug, over-laden shopping basket.

What planet do you live on? It’s the same god-forsaken rock we’re all currently clinging to, right? Because sometimes, I’m just not sure.

I’m already trained to smoke

There are many things wrong with the world that deserve government intervention. Protecting those in care homes and stopping animal cruelty are clearly worthy of the sweat and tears it takes to get anything through Parliament. When it enforces ‘common sense’ or invades my own sense of well being I cannot help but explode in fury.

Instead of educating idiots, the UK is going to bring in a ban that stops anyone smoking in a car containing children. If you happen to own one of these things then you should be fucking responsible enough to know that it’s bad. If you don’t, then do not embark on expanding the species. It is a simple enough thing to understand. Look after your blight on humanity, protect them from danger and illness. Why the fuck does it need a new law and yet another fine structure?

As a hater of children who occasionally has to transport them in my car, smoking is one of the only things that stops me from putting the foot down and driving off a cliff. They can open a window for fuck’s sake, onto all of that good motorway air. I warn any little bastard’s owner that I will smoke; if they allow the thing into my space then fine. The kid is, after all, their responsibility not mine.

Now I face an even more excruciating time getting my lungs ripped out by tedious mirth at the new inability to control my own life. I pay for my vehicle; as long as I’m not transporting another body it is my private world of joy. In my rented flat I’m already trained to smoke leaning dangerously out of a window, paranoid over any smell fouling the walls. Only on the road can I fully let rip, inhaling the little cancer sticks with two fingers up to other people. This is my England; jog on usurpers.

If this law made any sense it would just fine the parents. There’s already enough mollycoddling of these untouchables who choke up hospitals and block pathways. They get paid to have time off to ‘bond’ with a baby. Then there are family credits, free NHS prescriptions and special parking spots.

Despite working I get fuck all. Start piling fines onto these breeders so they consider it before the bloody thing arrives. Make them responsible for how everyone else’s life is puked over. Taking a giant pram on public transport? That is an extra two spaces lost. Pay. Bringing a disease into work from your beloved little shit? Pay for everyone else’s sickness time off. I supporting a ban on children in pubs, especially past 6pm. I’m not there to babysit for you, and the noise is excruciating. My mental health is impacted. Pay.

Needless to say the upshot is all children are now banned from my car. So, actually, maybe it’s not all bad.

A man without a car

Until very recently I hadn’t been on public transport in about 10 years, probably not since I was a student. As a student I had to use trains and buses (oh the injustice, having to mingle with the similarly unwashed) but at that time I had no real concept of the code of public transport.  Well, after 10 pints of snakebite (a drop of blackcurrant juice is one of your 5 a day when you’re a student) you usually don’t understand the code of being human let alone some code of public transportation.

Fast-forward ten years and after working in sales (yes, I’m a wanker) and enjoying company cars for the majority of that time, I find myself without a car. Me? A man without a car? Bollocks.  Starting over again in my career resulted in me having to face facts, one of which was that I was going to have to use public transport – properly this time.

And there is most definitely a code when using public transport. Few people follow it as rigidly as they should. The code goes like this.

One: you turn up at the bus stop or the train station, whatever takes your fancy. Look around and gauge who is there before you. This will come in handy.

Two: the vehicle arrives. It doesn’t matter if the fucking thing stops right by you, rolls out the red carpet and you get piped aboard by the Royal British Legion Marching Band – let those that were before you get on first. You should know who these people are if you’ve taken note of point one of the code. You do this because it’s common, human decency. Do not goose-step past these people in order to get on the train/bus/tube before them. This is neither decent nor humane; it only tells all of the passengers entering the vehicle that you are, in fact, a wanker.

Three: you are on board your chosen mode of public transport. If you are using a mode of transport which allows you to see the human who is paid to be there (the driver of the bus for example), say “thank you” as you get on. Why? Because it is called showing some fucking manners you rude, ignorant pile of goat dung. The driver doesn’t want to be there; no-one grows up wanting to be a bus driver. They probably had dreams of being a sailor or a landscape gardener and here they are, carting about the feral, ignorant and mentally retarded. The least you can do, as a relatively sane member of the public, if you are one, is to say thanks.

Four: find a seat. What this doesn’t entail is walking up and down, stopping by every spare seat, before continuing your hunt for what I can only assume is some of automated masturbating chair.  All seats are created equal, unless you’re on Ryanair, so just pick one.

Five: if you find yourself in an aisle seat and the person on the inside of you needs to leave before you reach your destination, stand up. Don’t just swing your legs out into the aisle and expect them to squeeze past, even if it’s fucking Twiggy next to you ,and frankly you’ve more chance of sitting next to Shergar than her on public transport.

Six: you reach your destination. Let’s be honest, you know when it is. It’s announced before you reach it, you see others get off before you so you know roughly whereabouts you are on your journey and you may well even recognise the surrounding area. What does all this mean? It means get ready to leave before you reach your destination. Don’t get to your stop and then suddenly have a book, headphones, hand cream, makeup or anything else to pack away – it holds everyone up and is fucking infuriating.

These rules aren’t overly hard to follow. If someone who hasn’t been on public transport in a decade knows them, then you should too.  Read it, learn it and practice it so we don’t end up throwing ourselves and each other in front of the poor bastards ferrying us about the country.

Thanks for helping me check my brakes

Honest driving is a dying art. Not that it was ever really an art, but it’s certainly going to involve some dying if you lot keep it up.

It’s stressful enough driving on Britain’s roads without having to calculate the probability of which direction a driver will suddenly turn without warning. A drive to the shop to pick up some bread suddenly turns into a game of poker, where you have to watch every little movement other cars make. I’ve enough on my plate avoiding reckless cyclists and twats that decide to walk out on zebra crossings without having to make eye contact with every driver on the road.

I’m convinced at least 70% of drivers suffer from broken indicators. Whoever drafted the MOT check-list needs to make sure garages are checking them, because EVERY time I take on a roundabout, there’s some prick going around one without indicating. “Look at me! Where will I go, who knows?!” You’ll be going home in a hearse mate, one that probably doesn’t indicate either.

It’s plain laziness – those who are taking the first exit on the roundabout and feel that it doesn’t justify warning other road users that they are suddenly veering off left. Thanks for helping me check my brakes and whether my daughter’s neck can withstand whiplash. Increasingly, cars will pull up to junctions and just not bother with a left or right signal – you have to assume which way they’ll go by how many degrees their front tyres are turned. Cars don’t need cup-holders these days, they need protractors and a fucking trundle wheel in the glovebox.

I’m just too honest a driver to accept this kind of behaviour. I’ll be the only mug on the motorway indicating when overtaking an artic crawling at 60mph. Everyone else just weaves in and out of each other, like some tarmaced slalom from Mario Kart. Society isn’t legally obligated to just drift between lanes like an episode of Top Gear – tell us where you are going.

It’s not limited to motor vehicles either, with cyclists now deciding to turn 90 degrees without signalling. As if joining pavements, ignoring red lights and failing to wear a helmet aren’t enough of a risk, you’re now throwing suicidal Lycra men at my bonnet? I’m not calling for bullbars to be legalised again, but don’t be surprised if you see a Yaris driving round Bristol with a Dick Dastardly “point” welded on.

The worst offenders make their way in to a little black book; that’s right – I’m taking down registration numbers. Soon I’ll have a list as long as Schindler’s, and they’ll meet a similar fate. If I’m ever struck down with a life-shortening disease, I’ll be the head-case showing up at roundabouts with a sniper rifle.

If you can move your hand to put your wipers on, you can do the same for indicating. Nobody is too lazy to ignore rain on their windscreen, or so self-obsessed that they won’t put their lights on in the dark. It wouldn’t surprise me if most accidents stem from a lack of signalling. Traffic flows through anticipation, made infinitely easier to judge when we all know where we are heading. It’s a virus infecting the UK, and it’s as bad as speeding, if not worse. All joking and violent road rage aside, if you’re guilty of it, please refrain from doing it in future.