The runaway train

I have been reading the reports of the terrible disaster in Canada with the runaway train carrying pressurised containers of fuel.

The pictures reaching this side of the Atlantic are truly horrific.

The BBC news site at is carrying some of these pictures and also video footage.

Part of the BBC report quotes the following: –

The Montreal, Maine & Atlantic train had five locomotive engines and was parked in the village of Nantes – about 7km (four miles) from Lac-Megantic – during an overnight driver shift-change, said a company spokesman.

A driver had parked the train and put the brakes of its engines on “properly” before going to a local hotel for the night, said the spokesman, Joe McGonigle.

But the fuel cars somehow became uncoupled, causing them to roll downhill into the town and derail, he added.

Units just don’t somehow become uncoupled, especially when stationary, there has to be something happen to the coupling. Also unless the rolling stocks units were not individually braked, which I very much doubt then normally if there is a break in the coupling or the brake linkage between the units then brakes will fail ON not OFF. Thus preventing normally a runaway such as appears to have occurred here. Who knows perhaps the coupling was tampered with and the brakes were not adequate for the weight of the units. We of course at this stage don’t know and we may never know. I have no experience of the braking system used in Canada and more specifically on this particular train.

I am sure that such questions will be asked on an investigation, and let’s hope they find the answers as railway safety is taken very seriously.

I am lucky in that I have never been caught up in a disaster on this scale and I honestly hope I never will. Just to look at the devastation caused and the mounting loss of life does, I will freely admit make me feel very sad indeed.

My thoughts are with the families of those affected, it is a terrible situation to be put in and my thoughts are also with the victims and I hope the death toll does not rise to the level that some expect.


Will the last person out of the country please switch the lights off.

Well here in the UK experts have suggested that companies be paid for using less power in the late afternoons & early evenings.

The following is quoted from the BBC News Web Site:-

The government has dismissed a proposal that big shops and factories could be paid to cut their energy use to prevent shortages leading to blackouts.

Electricity network owner National Grid has suggested large consumers could be asked to lower use between 16:00 and 20:00 on weekdays in the winter.

It was responding to a warning from energy regulator Ofgem that the risk of power cuts has increased in the UK.

We appear to be steadly nearing the point as consumption goes up each year of getting close to where we can’t generate enough electricty to meet and exceed demands especially at peak times.

As somebody who remembers the power cuts of the 1970’s and the three day week, I have no desire to be working by gas light. We live in the 21st Century not Victorian times.

Now this has made me think about how much electricty people waste these days, with modern electronic gadgets left on standby rather than being switched off totally when not in use. Just looking round my home office here I have the following on or on standby at the moment. Two computers, one printer, one two-way radio, Two routers & one modem, Four external hard drives, Two angle lamps, Two cordless phones and last but not least one USB powered hub. Now each of those is not consuming that much power but it all adds up. So what can we do to save power and of course in the process save a bit of money. The answer of course is to switch things off totally not just to standby. I now switch off the desktop at night, I used to just leave it running 24/7 simply because it was easier than waiting for it to boot.

However, this does not totally answer the question as to why we are not generating enough to keep pace with increasing consumption needs. One of the reasons no doubt is the Nimby principle (Nimby = Not in my back yard.) People want things but not where it will adversly affect them. Nobody wants a view of a power station from their living room window, but they do want more power. The same can be said for example with mobile phones, people want 100% coverage but then moan when another phone mast goes up locally.

Many people lay the blame for the possible power problems at the feet of successive UK Governments for the privatisation of the power industry and the subsequent underfunding, private power companies exisit to make money for their shareholders, no longer are they there as a public utility.  Reading the reports on such as the BBC web site there are promises that the lights won’t go out, but promises from most politicans are, in my opinion not worth the effort made to say them.

So in a couple of years if the power does go off at peak times, we will be close to a general election, take time to remember what your local MP said on the subject and vote accordingly!!

Little things please little minds.

This amused me, which most likely shows how easily I am pleased these days.

I read the following on a computer forum in the software questions area.

My word processing software auto corrects as I type, how can I stop this?

Learn to spell or type better then the problem will go away.

I have a feeling it may not be the answer the person asking was looking for, then again you never know. Some strange people use computers these days, there is me for a start!!

But what if…….?

As you get older and there is more behind you than in front, and I don’t mean your backside (Ass) is getting bigger, you can’t help but think what if……?

Now I must admit here and now I am not one for generally looking back but like most people I do think of things and sometimes what if I had done something differently.

Now one thing I think you must accept with this thought is that if you had done something differently in the past then you may not be where you are now. You could be somewhere different, and that somewhere could be better than where you are now but equally it could be worse.

Take computers for example, if I had not bought one when the company I worked for started stocking them then perhaps my career would have been totally different, for a start I would not have trained others to use computers and software and perhaps I would not have developed an interest in computer communications as part of my lifelong interest in Amateur (Ham) Radio. I may not have been writing this blog (No cheering at the back, go and look at the Disney channel!!). In other words is where I am now is down to the fact that the shop I worked in received it’s first delivery of Commodore computers on the day the staff got paid? Perhaps if they had arrived a week later by which time I would have spent my spare money then I would not have bought one. Then how different would things have perhaps been for me?

Now I appreciate this may be a little deep for me to be typing on a summers day like today with the wind howling and the rain lashing down but it just shows how one little minor event at the time can have a profound effect on the future. But just think of all the little decisions you have made in the past and then think of where you would perhaps be now if you had made a different decision.

I communicate via this electronic medium with what I think are some pretty incredible people, they inspire me, they amuse me and in one specific case constantly amaze me with their ability to make the best of their situation, in the case of this one person her posts always without fail inspire  me and make me feel lucky to be able to communicate with her. Just think if those computers had come in at a different time this may not be happening, and I for one would be a poorer person for it.



It’s my music and you can have it even if you don’t want it.

In the summer months we have a strange phenomenon here.

People seem to have this desire to throw their windows open and share their love of music with their neighbours. Depending on which way you face you can sometimes select the type of music you’re forced to hear.

Now if that was not bad enough we also have those who like to play the same song over and over again, it makes sitting in the back garden (Yard for my American followers) on a sunny day an experience. Just when you want to sit out and perhaps enjoy a quiet book or perhaps work on the laptop you have a musical background, the snag being that the background can often be quite loud and normally the music is terrible and distorted.

Judging by the volume of what reaches my garden I can only assume that the volume is set on whatever is playing it to just about pain threshold. Either that or I live near a commune for the selectively deaf.

The only two options are often to go and sit inside again or take out some headphones and listen to your own music to drown out the neighbours racket. This tends to defeat the object of a quiet sit in the sunshine.

This is not limited exclusively to my younger neighbours either, we have a few older people who seem desperate to hang onto their youth via music.

So there you have it one of the many snags of working from home. Oh well where are my headphones?

Looking over your shoulder at times past.

Who would think it’s almost the end of May.

At the time of writing this it’s blowing a gale, raining and just +6.5c outside.

We all tend when we try to remember the weather years ago to go back to when we were a child. You know that time when the sun always shone in the day and it only rained at night.

Looking back I remember in the 1960’s when we had a big freeze over several winters and especially the big freeze in 1962/63, it was cold for ages.

But despite it all we still walked to school every day, the buses ran and people just got on with things.

One thing I remember is passing the local shop, you know one of those places that stocked everything, and all the staff knew where everything was. Outside was a metal rack that held glass bottles of pop (Soda) and these had frozen so much that the tops had been forced off and they were on top of about 3 inches of ice that had been forced out of the bottle. They sat there like large coloured pencils with an eraser on the end every day for ages.

In those days for heating and hot water we had a coal fire and a back boiler which supplied the hot water for a couple of radiators and for washing etc. Nothing fancy like heating upstairs. I remember my father carrying in buckets of coal from the coal shed and lighting the fire each morning, he got it down to a fine art. Our house was an end terrace and I can remember waking up in the morning with ice on the inside of the bedroom window and condensation frozen on the wall down the stairs.

But the funny thing is we never bothered about it as far as I can remember.

A ritual we had every Friday night was for my mother and I to go to the local chip shop for three portions of fish and chips, the order never varied. We did that every week come rain or shine. Our treat on the way back home was a hot fishcake each which we ate straight out of the paper. Nothing in my mind could beat eating that fishcake as we trudged home through the snow or the rain. In those days the fish and chips were wrapped in newspaper, these days that’s not allowed. People would take their read newspapers to the chip shop and get a couple of pence for them.

It was a rarity at least where I lived to have a telephone in the house. The nearest public call box was about half a mile away and that’s where you went if you wanted to call anybody who had got their own phone, quite often when you got there you would join the end of a queue waiting to use it. It seemed to be always the same people as far as I can remember. Now with the age of the mobile phone that call box has long gone as have many round the country. But in those days they were often a social gathering point for learning the local news, gossip and scandal.

I also remember something which seems to have disappeared these days and that was that we knew all our neighbours, we may in some cases not get on with them but we knew them and in times of trouble we would always help each other. That as I say seems to have gone now.

During the winter because of the fact that almost everybody had coal fires going was that we had some really thick fogs or smog because of them. Some nights even with the street lights on we could not see ten feet in front of us and standing under a street light we could not see the next one either way. It was an eerie feeling standing in the fog not able to see far but sounds carried and you could speak to somebody across the road who you could not actually see.

Now as I sit back in my nice warm centrally heated home office and sit looking back in time I am not suggesting we go back to how it was, if only for the simple reason that you can never actually go back to how things were, and if you try and recreate it you’re always without exception disappointed.

So take a bit of time to look back and enjoy your memories they are the most precious thing you have.


Behind every Mid Life Male there is a Mid Life Female!

Now if you have met me more than a few times especially at the railway then you will have most likely also met my better half. Or to be correct the wife!

For those of you who have not met Sue here is a picture of us both taken last Sunday.

VLUU L100, M100  / Samsung L100, M100







If I remember correctly she is laughing because I had just asked to borrow some money from her.

Now it’s fair to say that Sue is the most tolerant patient person you could ever meet, she must be to put up with me. I mean she even paid for the marriage licence, I seem to remember though when she handed over the cash she was muttering about dog licences were cheaper when they were available.

We have been married over 25 years and she has not killed me yet so we must get on together. Now it would be incorrect of me to say we never have our differences, all married couples do, but at least when we differ I normally know when to give in!

Now if Mid Life Wife has one weakness then it’s handbags, she likes to rotate her collection on a regular basis, and I have been known to buy her the odd addition to her collection, especially when I have spent money on something for myself. It takes the heat off my purchase. Though I do check her larger ones before we go out together to confirm there is not a house brick in there for her to use on me should I embarrass her when we are out.

Being in mid life I do have so I am told a few oddities, though people who tell me that fail to tell me what they are. Sue puts up with them, mind you she has a few too but I am not brave enough to tell her.

Sue works in retail and in common with most others in the retail industry she is not that fond of a lot of the general public, and like mid life man she has a low threshold when dealing with idiots. Having also worked in retail it is a common feeling we share.

Now if I were to list her hobbies two would stand out, the first is trying to keep me under control and the second is perfecting the first. But I will freely admit I would not be without her, I mean she cooks better than me for a start, I have an advanced qualification in burning salad.

To sum up I could not do without her, and I always have the last word in our house and it’s normally “Yes Dear!”


Dear me is this really the highlight of the day.

Now I don’t know if it’s a sign of middle age or not but the following could well be the highlight of the day.

My Mouse Rug has arrived. Here for your delight is a picture of the said item. You can even click on the picture for a bigger version if it’s excitement you’re after.


So have I come to this I ask myself, the highlight of the day is receiving through the post a fur covered bit of rubber?

I must admit though the quality is far better than the cheap mouse mats I normally buy for the office. It will be interesting to see how long it lasts, hopefully a bit longer than the normal ones.

Should anybody be desperate enough to want one you can find them at

The other amazing thing is the postman took a couple of minutes to fit it through the letter box, I do wonder why he just did not knock the door first to see if somebody was in.

So there we are a short post so I can share the only bit of excitement mid life man is likely to experience today.

I know it’s sad!!!!!

If your going to do something then do it well.

I am a great observer of people, their behaviour, their mannerisms and how they act generally.

One thing I have noticed is that there is one thing older people are better at than youngsters and that’s being rude!

Some older people have got it down to a fine art. Now I hear on TV and read on the internet that the younger generation are rude especially to their elders. Well I reckon it’s often the other way round.

When I travel on buses I see what’s loosely called the older generation always taking the isle seat as though they are daring somebody to ask them to move so they can sit in the vacant seat by the window. it’s as though it’s their territory, they will sometimes dump their bag next to the window so they are taking up both seats.

When the bus gets full and somebody dares ask them for them to move so they can sit down they give what I call a cat butt face and mutter as they move, normally to sit by the window leaving the newcomer to squeeze on the edge of the seat half on and half off mainly because the person who had to move across has still left a gap between them and the window.

Then to top it off the person who moved will normally get off at the next stop where they will reach right across in front of the other person and press the bell then they will sweetly ask the person on the outside to move. I see it time and time again.

The other thing that happens is that the elderly will get on and ignore the seats where they have priority and sit elsewhere, then when a youngster is forced to sit in a seat where the elderly have priority because they are in the other seats they will be stared at as though they have committed some terrible crime.

Same at a bus stop the older generation will walk in front of those younger so they can get on first, as though their age gives them priority.

Now I am not saying that all older people are rude nor that all younger people are well mannered but I have noticed that if I encounter a rude youngster invariably they have a rude parent close behind.

I firmly believe that children generally only as well behaved as the worst behaved of their parents. I have seen that proven time and time again.

So where does this leave mid life man? Well the answer is confused to be honest, it takes no more effort to be well mannered than it does to be ignorant and rude, in fact well mannered people generally always seem to be happier. So why be  ignorant, rude and miserable when you can be pleasant and happy for no more effort?

The reason is that some people actually seem in a strange sort of way to be happy when they are miserable, it gives them some sort of pleasure to be a hassle, to irritate others and to make those around them miserable. You know those sort of people that if you say to them that it’s a nice day they will answer that it will rain the next day. They never get anything positive from anything.

So I will sit here meditating at the lack of manners generally and the decline of standards in inter human communication. I don’t know where we went wrong or how we can fix it but I honestly think that the lack of manners is to a large extent a product of our fragmented society where people seem to place importance on trivial things and ignore the important bits. Where a smart phone is a status symbol and a normal phone is a sign of poverty. Where parents will buy cigarettes and alcohol and then tell their children they can’t afford the packet of sweets the child wants. Where Please and Thank You are becoming lost words in our language. Where we have no time for others because we have no time for ourselves. Where we have more so called friends on Facebook than we do face to face.

It’s a sad world even for the happy people.

Starting with a clean sheet.

Well here I am with a nice squeaky clean blog, one that I have created for all my thoughts, aspirations and views on this, that & the other.

Will I impress readers I ask myself with my superb understanding of even the most complex subjects? For example subjects like why does toast always fall on the floor butter side down? I mean there must be a reason, but what the hell it is I have no idea. But that example will give you an idea of what heights I aspire to, or of course if you never drop the toast on the floor then what depths I will sink to.

Perhaps I can discover something in my writings, but knowing my luck the most likely thing I will discover is that actually I am not really that good, but as I am fond of saying only time will tell. Many of you who have either followed my other blog or had the misfortune of exchanging emails with me will know I am writing a book, it is a work of fiction. Somebody once said that we all have a book hidden somewhere inside of us, well in my case it must be well hidden, perhaps snuggled in some deep dark place at the back of my mind. All I know is at times I am having a darn hard job finding where it is. Still we will plod on and at the end of it hopefully there will be a completed work that somebody will read and say at the end “I enjoyed that!” If they do I will be a happy bunny.

In this book there is a bit of romance between two people, being a confirmed coward I am playing it safe in that it’s between a man and a woman, but for some reason actually writing it is proving a challenge. This puzzles me as after almost 27 years of being married I thought I had a fair idea of what happens, in what order and where everything goes in the process, but it appears not, so I am looking at that particular part of the book as a work in progress.

I suppose when push comes to shove that’s what life is “A work in progress.” The trouble is that when you’re young you want a fast forward button so you can skip the boring bits and get to the juicy parts. Then when you get older you want a button so you can skip back through the years and refresh your memory as to what the hell happened to you along the way. One question people often ask those who are older is “Would you change any part of your life if you could go back?” Those who say no are lying, of course we would like to change things that’s human nature, the problem 0f course is that if we changed something in the past we may not be where we are now, and where we would be instead might not be as nice. So perhaps it’s good that we can’t change the past and all we can do is learn from it.

Well that’s enough rubbish from me, you have far more interesting things to do than read my mutterings, such as making a coffee and then tilting back the chair and have a doze. Come to think of it that’s a darn good idea, where is the kettle?…………………..