In what is seemingly becoming my new norm, this is a monthly blog of two halves. The first half (which I call ‘over the moon’) is written before the February quiz grand prix, the second half (which, in keeping with the football clichés, is subtitled ‘sick as a parrot’) is written after; hence the late Saturday evening publication time.

Now, you’ve not been able to move on telly over the last few weeks due to documentaries about Churchill, and by that I mean Sir Winston, not the dog from the car insurance adverts. This is due to the fact that January was the 50th anniversary of both his death and of the last State Funeral to take place in the UK. Such facts, and those which can be gleamed from the resulting documentaries, are manna from heaven for quiz writers.

Now my favourite quote from Churchill is the whole ‘riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma’ one. Now while Churchill used this quote to describe the Russians, to me it has a modern-day resonance when used to describe rail commuters.

I live approx. 7 miles from my work which, in that oxymoron called Rush Hour, is a journey time of about 90 minutes by car (or bus). However, it’s only 17 minutes by train (plus about a 10 minutes walk either end). While this suits me fine, the time advantages also seem to suit a number of other commuters – including some who are less tolerant of their fellow-man than me. I know it’s hard to believe, but those people do exist.

Now there are the usual class of people who annoy the shit out of everyone, then there are those who just take it to another level (unlike Dane Bowers from Another Level who’s just an annoying shit). The usual suspects include (but are not limited to):

  • People who talk on the phones in the quiet carriage (mildly annoying)
  • People who take their (non-folding) bikes on crowded commuter trains (bloody annoying)
  • People who won’t move down the carriage to allow other to get on … or move to allow others to get off (the second class of these usually stand in doorway with the entire contents of their house in 20 suitcases. Second Class … railway humour)

Those who take it to another level are those quirky individuals who seem to inhabit a world of their own – that where they are the most important person and everyone else is just an irrelevant annoyance. While I was going to rant on about a few of these, for brevity (as I have a lot to get through) I will keep this to just the one:

At my station there is the phrase ‘Mind The Gap’ painted at regular intervals along the platform edge. Now, anyone with half a brain cell and who has been to the station more than once will soon realise that this is where the doors will usually end up when the train pulls into the station. It’s also where most of the regular commuters tend to bunch up, so giving them a more than reasonable chance of being able to get on their conveyance of choice.

However, there is one commuter who does not feel she has to abide by these rules. Imagine the bastard lovechild of Ummi from the Kumars and Juggernaut from the X-Men. Now, Ummi-naut will stand at the far end of the platform, until her train of choice arrives. She will them stomp along the edge of the platform, level with her chosen door, until such time as the train actually stops and she can embark. During this daily journey, she expects the other commuters to make way for her and, with one single exception, they do. She hates me for this, and I have to admit that I stand where it most upsets her wilderbeest-esque morning migration. I’m sure that I’ve heard her mutter about discrimination more than once as well.

Enigmatic? Well, to paraphrase Churchill again, ‘Ohhh Yes!’

Onto other things -it seems that my blog has gone stratospheric. Not all of it, just one page – this one. I have no idea why. At the time of writing, this page has been viewed 500+ times all over the world, compared to a couple of other pages that have had less than 200 reads, while most of the rest are still in double figures. (I clearly live in a very small stratosphere – possibly a stattosphere?).

Generally this blog was about me being a frustrated writer and about a book that’ll never get written. Not it may well be that people are excited about the possibility of another medieval murder mystery book, and to that end I’ve spent the last few week doing reasearch into the workings of monasteries. If I ever get off my procrastinating arse, this may actually result in the book being written, published and me getting fortune and fame!

However, I’ll admit that the increased readership may be down to this picture of Lucy that appeared in the blog as well.


I’ll also admit that people read the blog for various reasons and, in keeping with this month’s theme, I’ll name that phenomenon the Enigma Variations.

Going into the February Grand Prix, I ranked 175th in Britain and 344th in the World (although the World Ranking did not include January’s results – website not updated for some reason). Not only was I quite happy with this, I’m now also ranked ahead of one of the Chasers (Shaun Wallace – The Dark Destroyer). However, so are 174 other people, so it’s not that good when you look at it that way!

February was the Edinburgh Grand Prix, but I didn’t go to Edinburgh. I went to the satellite event at Bletchley instead – the place where they supposedly broke the Enigma code. Now, I was hoping that all the really good quizzers were going to Scotland, and I’d have a good shot at a reasonable room placing. Unfortunately, two Chasewrs and various Mastermind champions were in the room. That and the questions themselves saw me finish 43rd out of about 70ish – I’m awaiting the merged results to see how I actually fared, but it’ll be a damn site worse that 43rd overall I can tell you.

BREAKING NEWS – 70th out of 97

This weekend also sees the BAFTAs and the inevitable fight between Redmayne/Hawking and Cumberbatch/Turing for the Best Actor award. While I think it’ll be Redmayne, I suppose, given the whole of the above, I really should support Cumberbatch on the night.

And finally … for those of you who are wondering how the t’internet dating is going; very well and thanks for asking. And with that enigmatic closure, here’s the obligatory footnote:-

Footnote: Lord Mountbatten (1979), the Duke of Gloucester (1972); Princess Diana (1997); the Queen Mother (2002) and Baroness Thatcher (2013) were all Ceremonial Funerals, not State Funerals. For an explanation of the difference click here.
Churchill, as well as being voted the Greatest Briton of the 20th Century, was also First Lord of the Admiralty at the outbreak of WWI and WWII.
The Enigma codes were actually broken by the Polish Cypher Bureau in December 1932. It was the enhanced machines that were broken at Bletchley Park during WWII, under the oversight of Benedict Cumberbatch (Alan Turing).


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