Wednesday, December 24, 2008

JP's Christmas Message

If you were hoping for something profound, I'm afraid that you're going to be disappointed.  If thoughtful and profound is your thing, you're probably better off waiting for the Archbishop of Canterbury's Christmas message.  I say probably, though, because I've just seen the BBC Headline which tells me that his message is going to be about not waiting for heroes to solve the world's problems.  I always think that it puts a bit of a dampener on things when the media announce what people are going to say in a speech, but in this case I hope that it's just something of a cliff-hanger.  As a message in itself, it's a bit nice-but-pointless.

Personally, of course, I hope that he really encourages people to think about the Christian faith.  The message of the Christian faith, of course, has not changed since last year but don't let that put you off having another think about it.  Believe me it's worth it, and the birth of Jesus really is something to celebrate.

Meanwhile, I'm struggling with the whole wrapping presents thing.  I feel that I'm now at an age where I should be able to do it, and that I can no longer rely on the fact that bad wrapping is assurance that I've put the effort in myself.  It's not going well, though.  I've managed to get that 're-used wrapping paper' look and may as well have not bothered buying a new roll.  Still, maybe some people will dig me for the apparent green credentials it gives me.

Happy Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

everybody dance now!

Normally, I'm not overly enamoured by people who interrupt my morning commute with their unnecessarily loud (but oh-so-cool) ringtones, or feel the need to share their music with their fellow passengers in glorious low-fidelity sound.

This morning, however, I did raise a smile when I heard one of JP's Top Anthems.  It was suitably random and a good way of breaking the monotony of a Monday morning train journey.

Incidentally, with reference to my last post, I didn't mean to come across as something as a Scrooge. I might object to the idea of making unnecessary political statements, but I have to admit that Alasdair was right.  Cards are a great way of keeping in touch, "Winter Greetings" or otherwise.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

lighting the seasonal blue touchpaper

I know that we had this debate last year, but I’ve once again found myself wondering what the point is of a card which says “Winter Season’s Greetings”. 


I’ve not (yet) received such a card myself so before you worry, I’m not being rude in an ungrateful sort of way.  Nonetheless, that doesn’t stop me having an opinion. 

Personally, I feel that such a card implies that the sender is a bit self-righteous.  The message conveyed is a bit “I’m not celebrating Christmas. Get me and my political correctness.” 

If you don’t want to celebrate Christmas, then I’m not going to stop you.  But it’s a bit pointless to send a card if you’re not celebrating anything.  You wouldn’t expect to send a “Summer Season’s Greetings” card in August, would you?


Besides, what’s wrong with wishing those of us who will be celebrating it a “Happy Christmas”?  What’s wrong with enjoying the festivities of Christmas, even if you don’t believe?  You don’t have to pretend that it isn’t really Christmas.  This whole “I don’t want to offend anyone” nameless approach to the festival is hollow, narrow minded, and ultimately quite miserable. 

Talking of not wanting to offend anyone, I wonder what would happen if I decided that I actually took offence to these silly cards.  Would it be unreasonable, as a member of an apparent religious minority, to expect them to be banned in some circles?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

back with a rant opposed to 'back with a bang' or however the saying probably goes.  You wouldn't expect any less, really, would you?

Getting down to business, I've had a few experiences recently in which I've been very frustrated by the selfish and unhelpful attitudes of some people in what I would term 'customer facing' roles.  Some might say that this is nothing new, but it has annoyed me nonetheless.

For my first example, we'll head to Three Bridges station, because tradition dicates that I should talk about something train-related once in a while.  Last week, I was on the platform at said station and I saw the electronic sign which told me that the train I had hoped to catch was 'Delayed'.  

Maybe it was unreasonable of me to have wanted to find out some more details, but approaching the Southern employee outside the door marked 'Information' seemed like a logical step to take.  He couldn't tell me how long the delay was, but did go to great lengths to explain that this wasn't his fault.  Apparently the man in the information room on the other platform wasn't responding to his queries for information.  I think "pathetic" is a fitting term to use here.

Anyway, because my train was delayed (perhaps indefinitely - who knew at this point?) I had time on my hands and decided that I could spare a bit of it to head through the subway and speak to the man in the information room myself.  It was better than standing out in the cold, but turned out to be a complete waste of time.  Information Room Man stuck his head out of the door to read the sign I had already read, told me that he "had no more information" and then just ignored me.  How. Rude.

I don't know about you, but in a world where jobs are increasingly at a premium I'm amazed that Southern couldn't find someone who knows what Customer Service is to work at the Information Desk.

Moving on, I went to a wedding yesterday (which, incidentally, I very much enjoyed).  On the way there we encountered a road block, comprising a bit of tree across one carriageway, and a Fire Engine across the other one.  After watching the firemen sweep randomly around the branch for a while I got out of the car and walked to the front of the queue to ask how much longer they were going to be.

"We've just got to move this bit," came the response from one of the firemen as he pointed towards the offending bit of tree.  This wasn't an especially satisfactory response, given that all they'd ever had to do was "move that bit."  I can't say that I was too enamoured with his manner, either.

I then proceeded to ask why he couldn't move the Fire Engine and let the policemen who were present direct the traffic past.  Apparently it's because they're "not allowed to work when there are cars coming past".  For the second time, "pathetic" is the word.

What really gets to me though is the fact that the sense of helping other people seems to have been completely lost.  It's actually really quite selfish, and it's a real shame that beauracy and an unhelpful attitude has developed such a tendancy to get in the way.

In the case of the railways, I know that the flow of information is not always good.  In the case of clearing the road, I understand that some precautions have to be taken.  But what happened to common sense?  What happened to being friendly and apologising to the passengers stood out in the cold?  What happened to appearing to make an effort? Since when did people have all day to sit around in a queue of traffic whilst four blokes ponce around with a broom?  Why was taxpayers money used to buy fluorescent suits which could be seen from outer space when those who wear them aren't allowed to go near a moving car anyway?

I could go on, but rather than pose any more questions, I shall answer the one which is bound to be on everybody's mind.  I did make it to the church on time.