Archive for the ‘It's not just me’ category

‘Cause I’m leavin’ on a sleeper train, don’t know when I’ll be back again

April 15, 2009

I forgot to write about the dog with dreadlocks yesterday, being entirely too excited about my sledless sledding.

I was an entirely bizarre sight, made all the weirder for me having to explain it, as I wasn’t quick enough off the mark to get my camera out.  It was a live action version of Dougal, the dog from The Magic Roundabout, except that all the visible fur on it had been braided into hundreds of thin dreadlocks, in such a way that it must have cost the owners a great deal of money and yet served no other perposed except that it made the dog look ridiculous.

Despite having to wake up entirely too early, the journey back to Wien was very relaxing.  Aside from the first half hour of train to bus to train again switching, I spent most of the 6 hour journey on one train.  The biggest drama was that I had to walk along the train and back to find a seat, but when I found one I got really lucky.

The train had individual compartments, something I have never seen on a real train, only in movies, so I was a little overexcited by them.  When I’d finished walking along the train for the second time, I noticed that one of the compartments had its curtains drawn in such a way that it appeared to be closed off.  On closer inspection it appeared just to have a stiff door and was absolutely fine.  I sat myself down and none of the ticket inspectors questioned me about why I was there.

I am just a little bit of a poser

The compartments in Austrian trains are the height of luxury when it comes to rail travel, each contains six seats which recline inwards to form three beds.  I was able to spend most of the journey lying back, listening to podcasts and watching the higher bits of the world go past.  Lovely.

The one thing that did annoy me today didn’t happen until I got back to the station in Wien.  A guy came up and asked me for 2 Euro odd for his train.  Unfortunately for him, any money I had was deep at the bottom of my bags, so I told him I didn’t have any.  But he asked again, so I repeated, clearly, that I couldn’t help him.  And still he persisted, which really worked against his as – sleeping compartment or no – long journeys exhaust me and this guy was beginning to get on my tired nerves, making me even less inclined to part with my money.  Eventually, I had to turn out my pockets and, in rather clipped tones, tell him that I didn’t have any money.

I am aware of the inherent irony that by the time I finally got the guy to leave me alone I could have just as easily dug the money from out of my bag, but that he came to the station without extra cash is ridiculous, that he didn’t have a cash card to get some more money, doubly so.  I neither know if he got his train, nor care.

I should probably be mildly concerned that at the age of 20, I am becoming a grumpy old man.  But then, it will happen eventually, I may as well get the practice in now.


I am a former African ruler

March 22, 2009

I strange note from me, as for once, it’s not me being an idiot!

I’m sure that everyone gets phishing emails from time to time, people pretending to be an former African leader or Chinese banker or the lawyer of a rich recently-deceased man with no traceable relatives, even the National Lottery.  They are attempts to get people’s details for identity theft and nobody takes them seriously.

I recently received this email, claiming to be from the UN:

From: United Nations Organization (

United Nations Organization (UNO)

How are you today, hope all is well with you and your family?

You may not understand why this mail came to you.We have been having a
meeting for the passed 7 months which ended 2 days ago with the secretary to
the UNITED NATIONS.This email is to all the people that have been scammed in
any part of the world, the UNITED NATIONS have agreed to compensate them
with the sum of US$ 500,000.00 This includes every foriegn contractors that
may have not received their contract sum, and people that have had an
unfinished transaction or international businesses that failed due to
Government probelms etc.

You are advised to contact Mr. Jim Ovia of ZENITH BANK NIGERIA PLC, as he is
our representative in Nigeria, contact him immediately for your Cheque/
International Bank Draft of USD$ 500,000.00
This funds are in a Bank Draft for security purpose ok? so he will send it to
you and you can clear it in any bank of your choice.

Therefore, you should send him your full Name and telephone number/your
correct mailing address where you want him to send the Draft to you.
Conatct Mr. Jim Ovia immediately for your Cheque:
Conatct Mr. Jim Ovia immediately for your Cheque:
Person to Contact Mr. Jim Ovia
Phone: +234 8073 9382 53

Thanks and God bless you and your family.Hoping to hear from you as soon as
you cash your Bank Draft. Making the world a better place

Best Regards,
Mr. Kofi Annan
Former Secretary (UNITED NATIONS).

There are several things that are ridiculous about this message; the grammatical errors, alone are enough to make me chuckle and why would the former Secretary be sending this email?  Also why is the UN Bank now in Nigeria, and why does the representative of the Nigerian bank use a Yahoo account based out of Hong Kong? I also like the friendly “how are you today” opening, you don’t really expect an international organisation to exchange pleasantries.

What I find most bizarre is the implausible excuse that’s given in the scam; the UN has decided to compensate people who have been scammed.  This is trying to scam people who have already been scammed, surely this group would be the “once bitten, twice shy” types… if they do fall for it again, one wonders how they remember to breath

Very tempted to reply.

Not to be pedantic…

August 25, 2008

I was in Liverpool with some friends today, hunting Lambananas (as you do). As part of our trek we walked past statues of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, both on horseback.

In passing I mentioned that, when making statues of people on horseback,  a rearing horse shows that the person featured died in battle or from wounds sustained in battle.  If one of the forehoofs is raised the person died during a war, but from sickness or old age and if all four hoofs are on the ground then the person in the statue died during peacetime.

As soon as I finished saying this, one of my friends turned to me and said, “I’ve heard of that, it’s rubbish.”

I asked him to explain what he meant, to which he replied, “It’s not true, I read it in a book called The P’dants Revenge“.

It took me a moment before I realised what he was saying:

“By any chance do you mean Pedants Revenge?”

“No, p’dant, as in pedantic.”

“Well, yes, pedantic is the adjective, but the nound is pronounced pedant.”

“Does it really matter?” was the only reply he gave.

Names have been ommitted to protect the ironic.