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Alive 11

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    The blog that didn't realise it was a blog, until it was too late!

Here we go again..

We  haven't  had one of these for a while.  Yes,  it's another of those  old
Maggie  columns,  taken  out  of its cryogenic locker,  hastily rewarmed  to
tottering  temporary life,  then forgotten about for another couple of years
after the deed is done.  Just ask 'Mini-Mag' and 'In the Trashcan' about how
that feels!

Why do we persist in these acts of random text-based cruelty?

Because we can!

                         In the Trash-Bus??

So Why are the British so car loving and public transport adverse?  Here's a
possible answer!

You might remember gwEm penning a little diatribe about the (non)utility  of
the  public  transport  system,  particularly the  red  and  double-deckered
roadgoing part of it in the previous Alive.

Well one of my work collegues, Pete L. related an amusing tale this morning,
based  on his traveling experience to work.  Perhaps time to reconsider  the
'not guilty' verdict?

Pete was walking to the bus stop, spotted a bus coming up quickly, and as he
was fifty yards off,  he broke into a run. The bus driver, having seen this,
flashes  an  evil  grin,  shrugs his shoulders in a "Nothing to do  with  me
mate!" fashion, and carries on driving past without stopping.

But Pete is resourceful,  he knows the short-cuts, and the bus route is on a
loop around a housing estate. Thus he is able to get to the next stop before
the bus does.  It arrives shortly after he does.  Our man gets on,  and then
the argument starts.

"That was a little bit mean of you!" (Opening shot.)

"Well  I couldn't stop,  it's against the law to pick up passengers  between
stops!" the driver abruptly replied.

"But you saw me running, you could have waited for me at the bus stop?"

"Well I was running late, I didn't have the time for that!" (Huffily.)

"But it would only have been for a few seconds?"

And then the driver actually said THOSE words "It's more than my job's worth
to do that!" (Muted ironic applause from the audience.)

Shocked?  Yes  I am that he resorted to such cliches.  I'm surprised that he
didn't  come  out on strike,  seventies-style at that very instant,  calling
himself "Brother Stan" and quoting lines from 'On the Buses'.

But  the  fun continues,  oh yes,  time to twist the screw in a bit more. So
Pete does!

"That's  a  very poor approach to customer service you  have  there!  You're
never  going  to  amount  to  anything more than  a  bus  driver  with  that

"I'm  not  JUST a bus driver,  I used to be a manager!" He  angrily  blurted


The 'discussion' more or less ended there, although the bus driver spent the
rest of the journey muttering angrily to himself about customers. I guess he
spent  the  rest of the day driving his route angrily,  and woe  betide  any
cyclist who got in his way later on!

Amazingly,  Pete didn't get thrown off, but he had already paid his fare. He
also  related a boyhood tale of what happened when he pressed the  emergency
cut-off  switch  on  a  totally different and unrelated  bus,  just  out  of
curiousity of course.  The engine stopped as per plan,  and he found out how
quickly  and far that a lot of bus drivers can run if properly  pissed  off!
Something  like the first chase scene in Terminator 2,  when the young  John
O'Connor  is  trying to escape on a trailbike,  from the tirelessly  inhuman
T1000 in cop disguise running after him!

And to be at least a little bit fair to the driver,  Pete did pay him with a
five  pound note and no change,  which is guaranteed not to promote feelings
of empathy and friendship!

Buses, in the trashcan with 'em!

(Maintenance  bloke in long brown coat and cloth cap takes one look,  purses
his lips and utters "It's more than my job's worth to do that!")

                 I think something we already knew!

I'm  sure a lot of you have seen this picture all over the place,  but we're
happy to reproduce it here for those people who might have been cut off from
all sources of electricity and computers by floodwater or something over the
last six months.

I  guess if the caption is by Sky News,  Rupert Murdoch is getting tired  of
his American puppet, and he's going to be replaced by something less overtly

                       I Don't like Tuesdays!

Uh  oh,  it's  another obscure dislike,  and this one is even less based  in
reality than usual! What is it this time?

Well,  do you have a day of the week which you do not enjoy, the approach of
which  fills you with dread,  and contaminates the previous evening with  an
air  of  heavy  expectation?  Now most people will be punching the  air  and
screaming "Monday is the killer!" at this point, but I beg to differ.

Monday as the suckiest day of the week has been overhyped. I personally find
that Monday is over before you are aware of it. You come into that first day
of the week,  keyed up for a bad time,  and come out relieved that it wasn't
so.  There  is also a residual benefit from having had a rest at the weekend
working in your favour as well.

But Tuesday really does suck! This day can be best summed up as 'Monday part
2'.  On Tuesday, the feelgood factor from the previous weekend has faded. It
is still a long way to the next weekend.  Also those people at work who were
in a hurry but asking nicely on Monday are back on Tuesday screaming at you!
Also the time dilation effect which helps Monday pass by quickly is  absent,
so Tuesday d-r-a-g-s!

In fact,  the idea of a seven day week should be reconsidered.  The shape is
wrong,  there's a day too many.  A six day week would rule, and my candidate
for getting rid of the excess day? Well do you really need to ask?!

                 Invasion of the postal snatchers!

Now  is  it  me,  fine-tuning symptoms of classic paranoia,  or is  there  a
problem  with  the postal service?  (Is there ever *not* a problem with  the
postal  services?!) I think I've been here before,  more than once in  fact,
about the "service" provided by parts of the Royal Mail.

At  the  risk of upsetting some readers (hi Neo!) I'm going  to  exercise  a
little  pent-up wrath on the heads of the thieving bastards in  the  sorting

To  keep a long story reasonable,  I've had items 'disappear' on a number of
occasions this summer.  Firstly, it took two attempts for Evil to get a copy
of  the Atariscene 2004 dvd to me.  Then there was the matter of the missing
ST Magazine, which couldn't find its way from Nick Harlow's place in Medway,
over  to  Northampton.  There  was also a replacement  for  my  time-expired
Mastercard,  on which the jury is still out.  The PIN number arrived when it
should,  but of the card,  there was no sign.  I got this in the end,  after
prodding  the issuing office,  but they went to town on a bulked-up envelope
and special delivery, so I think one of those perhaps didn't get to me?

But  what  if  I'm unjustly accusing for the sake of  it?  What  alternative
theory could there be? There is one possible candidate...

Is it just me,  or does it seem sometimes that if you are really waiting for
a  nice  piece of post to turn up,  and it is late,  you get an  extra-large
delivery  of cruddy junk mail instead.  It's as if the junkmail has attached
itself onto and absorbed the proper item of post to replace it,  Invasion of
the Bodysnatchers style!

Then again, perhaps not...

From the web archives of the Daily Telegraph, 16th March 2005.

"Postal workers collectively stole 94,000 items between April 2003 and March
2004,  according  to  Royal Mail.  "This is something the postal service  is
2004fighting hard to stamp out," says detective chief inspector Roger Cook,  who
leads  a  card  crime policy group that  consists  of  representatives  from
Britain's biggest banks and senior policemen."

Mind you, it's not much better elsewhere in Europe..

This extract is also from the Daily Telegraph (11.6.05)

"Post  office staff in Milan have been caught on camera for the  first  time
doing  what  Italians  have  suspected  for  years:  systematically  opening
correspondence and stealing cheques, cash and valuables."

"An  inquiry involving undercover police in Italy's biggest  sorting  centre
led  to  the arrest of 17 employees."  "Cameras installed by police  in  the
office's  washrooms  showed employees nonchalantly going into  cubicles  not
only  with envelopes concealed in their clothes,  but in some cases carrying
bags of letters.  Workers could be seen removing money and flushing away the
letters."  "Italy's postal service has suffered decades of public mistrust."


        Oktoberfest Nurse in Fairground porn shock outrage!

(From 'The Register', 27th Sept 2005)

Three Italian visitors to Munich's legendary Oktoberfest came away with more
than a hangover last week when they were entertained by the sight of a nurse
pleasuring  herself with a sex toy in a Ferris wheel gondola while  two  men
armed with a video camera looked on.

The shocked trio immediately reported the outrage and police swiftly  cuffed
the perpetrators,  later identified as a 21-year-old registered nurse, a 25-
year-old university student and a 30-year-old political sciences teacher.

Brilliantly,  the  smutmongers  explained that they had been "engaged  in  a
sociological   experiment   to  measure  public  responses   to   unexpected
behaviour",  which sounds like a plausible defence for just about everything
from  full-on rumpy-pumpy in Trafalgar Square,  to picking up an old  lady's
irritating and yapping pet poodle and drop-kicking it under the wheels of  a

A local police spokesman issued a statement to clarify the reason for  their
swift action.

"It's  not  October yet.  If the festival was called the  Septemberfest,  we
might have turned a blind eye.  Alternatively,  if they had waited for a few
more  days for the right month then it wouldn't have mattered,  but as  they
simply couldn't restrain themselves, we had to step in..."

And yes, I made that last bit up!

                         Putting on the Blitz!
             Smurfville gets blasted with death from the skies!

It could be the Smurf cartoon that escaped from the darkside, where Gargamel
is  sick and tired of playing around,  gets himself properly tooled up,  and
comes  after those pesky Smurfs with the best munitions that money can  buy,
loaded into a B52.

On the other hand, it could be an attempt by the Belgian branch of Unicef to
carry out an awareness booster to show the dire effects of war on  children.
Apparently,  this  25  second  'adult'  episode of the Smurfs  was  all  too
successful,  with  those children who sat through it being left tearful  and
distraught afterwards.

This radical departure from the normal kiddie cartoon,  sees the cuddly blue
creatures kicking off the action by dancing hand-in-hand round the  campfire
while singing that catchy Smurf song we all know and, erm, know.

Death  then  begins to rain from the sky as bombs from  an  unseen  aircraft
spread  fiery death through Smurfdom leaving just a "scorched  and  tattered
Baby  Smurf  sobbing  inconsolably,  surrounded  by prone  Smurfs",  as  the
Telegraph puts it. The end caption reads: "Don't let war affect the lives of

The  ad campaign is intended to raise awareness of the plight  of  Burundi's
former child soldiers,and raise up to 70,000eu towards their welfare. Unicef
Belgium  spokesman  Philippe Henon explained:  "It's controversial.  We have
never done something like this before but we've learned over the years  that
the reaction to the more normal type of campaign is very limited."

Erm,  right,  so  what  next  to tickle our jaded appetite for  catastrophe?
Grainy camcordered battlefield footage of My Little Pony being forced to run
across a minefield at bayonet-point perhaps?!

The  advertising  agency behind the campaign,  Publicis,  wanted to go  even
further.   Julie  Lamoureux,  account director at Publicis for the campaign,
explained  that the agency's original plans were toned down  somewhat.   "We
wanted something that was real war.  Smurfs losing arms, or a Smurf losing a
head, but they said no."

The  Register nicely sums up the rather dubious double-edged appeal of  this
cartoon,  in  other  words,  there is a part of many of us which is  pissing
ourselves laughing at this idea..

"Of  course,  the  Smurfs are a Belgian invention,  first appearing in comic
form  in  1958.  This  might explain the horrified reaction over  there.  We
reckon,  on the other hand, that if the Smurf apocalypse TV ad were shown in
Britain,  Blair  and Bush's approval rating for military action abroad would
treble  in a flash among adults more than willing to support any  initiative
which involves dropping munitions on Smurfs."

                Sins of the Wolfie Revisited!?

Okay, here's one which you might remember from a few issues ago.

Back  in  issue 5,  I wrote about a strange episode from my time  in  higher
education, where rather too much information was revealed about someone. The
person  in  question,  Graham Fitchie,  was something of a pendantic  social
irritant  in  his day-to-day dealings.  This is forgivable.  What was rather
less forgivable,  was the revelation that he had a locker full of paedophile
literature.  He  had  taken great care to keep this out of view,  until  his
fellow  students got him out of his room in the halls of residence  on  some
pretext, and someone took a peek inside to see what the big secret was...

The  college  authorities were discreetly tipped off,  and  they  apparently
dealt with the problem by shunting him off the teaching course he was  doing
with a series of bad grades. From there, we heard no more.

An  internet  search  with random keynames of people from  my  past  history
pulled  up  a newspaper report of a trial and sentencing  of  an  individual
called  Graham Fitchie for paedophile offences.  At that point,  the Alive 5
article was born.

In common with the rest of the Alive issues,  it has gone online in easy-to-
browse webzine form,  quietly sat minding its own business, and nothing more
has been heard until a few days ago.

My  Alive  5  article is now 'top of the hits' when the  key  words  "Graham
Fitchie" are Googled. I found that out after getting the following email.

From: <>
Date: 11 October 2005 20:20:56 BDT
To: <>
Cc: <>
Subject: Graham Fitchie


I  am an agency journbalist trying to track down Graham - he is believed  to
be working in Gloucestershire as a storyteller.

Obviously he shouldn't be so I need to expose him. I was hoping that you may
have a contact etc.

Your story from 2002 pulled up on the web. All info about him, which uni etc
would be very helpful.


Tom Morris

Now this is strange, and not a little bit worrying. I've suddenly become the
leading authority on Graham Fitchie,  the convicted paedophile, and there is
a  suggestion he might be up to his old tricks again?  Needless to say,  the
information I have on him is now twenty years old, and has only been updated
from other sources since. Why would an "Agency Journbalist" want to write to

The  'Glosnews' connection seems to check out,  there is a news agency  with
that name based in Gloucestershire. They collect stories and sell them on to
other news reporting and media organisations. Apparently they were the first
people at the scene,  when the police started to dig up the cellar at serial
killer Fred West's house.

So I answer the email, politely and regretfully.

Hiya Tom, and hmmm?

This is interesting, not to mention disturbing information.

Unfortunately,  just  about  everything I know about this guy  is  contained
within that article. I haven't got any current idea of anyone who might know
his  whereabouts,  and I definitely have had no interest in getting back  in
touch with him!

I'd  be interested to know how he has become a 'live' issue again,  I  guess
you heard something which my article strongly supported?

I  could tell you which higher education institute he attended in  the  mid-
1980's,  but I'm understandably reluctant to give out that information until
I  know a little bit better about what is going on.  I will tell you for now
it was a College of Higher Education (CHE) in the north-west of the country.

I  did  not personally discuss with Graham anything to do  with  his  sexual
preferences,  and  that  information  came out,  secondhand,  the way it was
described  in the article.  I might add that he generally conducted  himself
day to day in an attitude of being permanantly 'right' and unable to  accept
he ever made a mistake,  and I guess that this attitude is a classic sign of
an unrepentant repeat sexual offender.  I'm sure someone with the right sort
of letters after their name would confirm that.

I'm sorry that I'm not able to be more helpful,  but I wish you all the best
in tracking him down.

Chris H.

This is not the end of the story,  as the next day, I get another email from
an entirely different source with the same subject title!

Date: 12 October 2005 10:16:33 BDT
Subject: graham fitchie

Am looking for info on Graham Fitchie.   Can you call me.....07766317434....
or email me back.


What  a lovely email address he's got,  '' - This makes the
sender  sound  like a vigilante madman,  who won't rest until  that  pervert
nonce is taken off the streets, permanently!

In  order to cut things as short as possible,  I decided to ring the  mobile
number provided.  The person that I spoke to said he was another journalist,
this  time claiming to work for a national newspaper,  and basically  asking
the same sort of questions as our friend Tom Morris was previously.

I give the same answer that I gave in the email,  that is all my information
is  very old news,  and there are no fresh leads forthcoming.  I'm still not
quite  convinced  of the veracity of this second correspondent.  But he  was
surprised to hear that there was more than one person chasing this same line
of enquiry. Also this second person suggested that the current rumours about
Graham  Fitchie  might be exaggerated,  and he was looking into them with  a
degree of scepticism.

From  where I am sitting,  it looks like there is a presently unknown  third
party,  not  keen  on Graham Fitchie for presently unknown reasons,  who  is
making lots of phone calls to different news organisations. Nothing else has
happened (yet) since that last phone call, but if it does before the cut-off
date for Alive 11, I'll update this text accordingly.

5.11.05  Update.  Well there hasn't been any more strange emails from people
keenly  seeking  his whereabouts.  On the other hand,  Google seems to  have
sprouted a couple more websites with a person called Graham Fitchie on them,
one of which is calling itself 'The Gloucester Storytellers', which seems to
back  up what the first correspondent was talking about.  Of course it could
be  a totally different person called Graham Fitchie from the one which  was
convicted  in  1997.  I tend to hope that this story will actually  come  to
nothing if this is the case. We're not into promoting misguided 'News of the
World'  style  vigilante peedo-stomping justice,  inflicted  by  permanently
idignant but terminally shit-thick people, based on wrong information!

                        Can't pay? CAN'T PAY!!

Melbourne,  Australia,  and Melbourne Council's latest wheeze to pack 'em in
with strict parking fines is going horribly wrong.  A 71 year old man was an
early  recipient of one of these tickets.  He was in close proximity to  the
issuing  traffic  warden.  He  was  also blissfully unaware  of  this  minor
official, as he had been lying dead in his car for several days beforehand!

An  explanation  of  "The  officer didn't see  anything  unusual  about  the
vehicle" went down as well as a one-way ticket to the crematorium.

Well,  it couldn't happen here in England,  our traffic wardens will get you
five  minutes  over the time allowed,  maximum!  So they'll find your  inert
dead corpse still warm!

                      Please sir, can I go to the toilet?

Ok,  here's another ugly new corporate word. This is "Dataveillance". It's a
favoured  word with the Automobile Association (AA) today,  as they  monitor
their employees and what they get up to in their working day. The average AA
employee is allowed 82 minutes personal time per day,  which would typically
be accounted for as 60 minutes for lunch,  15 minutes for a tea or cigarette
break, and just seven minutes going to the toilet time.

Hang on a minute, going to the toilet time?!

Yes,  that  is being logged electronically as well,  you will really have to
account  for  those  extra minutes,  even if you are having  a  tricky  time
shifting things!

Zoe Williams of the Guardian cuts to the chase before I do..

"Now,  a  system  as stringent as that ought,  surely,  to have some kind of
exemptions.  Say  you're  constipated in the morning,  you should be able to
register  that,  against the possibility that you will blow all your minutes
before the afternoon. Naturally, though, in a company that doesn't trust you
to  go  to  the  toilet unguarded,  you'll have to  provide  proof  of  your
downstairs  malfunction.  I  can see a horrible modern  industrial  dystopia
opening  up,  where managers have to inspect stool samples and cubicles  are
wired for straining noises."

It isn't just a moment of managerial madness at the AA either, several other
leading  companies are thinking of introducing such a system,  names such as
Tesco,  Securicor,  Pets at Home. Some commentators consider it as "Treating
employees like battery hens."

But  battery hens are free to defecate as they wish,  without some berk of a
line  manager  standing  over  them with  a  stopwatch  and  several  snarky
questions as to why they took so long, so no comparison really!

                  Clive Sinclair unveils Segway killer?

Teetering  right  on  the edge of the nutter/genius  line,  Clive  Sinclair,
founder  of Sinclair Research,  and godfather of the abortive sewing-machine
like  C5  electric  buggy,  today announced yet another desperate  shove  at
firing  off a new personal transport revolution,  this time in the form of a
personal aircraft, for one.

The  Sinclair "Avionica" helicopter wig is due to go on sale shortly.  It is
still  awaiting approval from the Civil Aviation Authority,  who have issues
with  the power-to-weight ratio.  Currently,  Avionica has been successfully
test-flown,  but only with slim to anorexic fashion models.  There have been
concerns  that the engine used in the prototype has difficulty  lifting  off
with anyone of an average physique strapped on underneath, let alone 20-plus
stone Tubby Johnston types.

The question of reasonable battery life needs to be addressed too. Currently
it is abysmal, cutting out at around 30 seconds after lift-off, just when it
reaches its normal operating altitude of 100 metres.

Sinclair Research are also knee-deep in complicated negotiations with  Apple
Inc, about using the latter's iPod as a controller.

Providing  all these issues can be resolved in time,  Avionica should go  on
sale in the first quarter of 2006.

                      And the fat bloke sings..

In  the  style  of Lotek writing in his UCM days,  I'm  doing  some  serious
padding out of this article with some song lyrics,  but I tend to think that
these suit the tone of this article quite well!

By the Arrogant Worms.  Has anyone got this?  I bet it's a wicked tune!  Did
you know they were Canadian? No?? Ok Felice, calm down!

    Malcolm Solves his Problems!

Billy solves his problems by calling up his mom
Heather solves her problems with drugs and alcohol
Daniel solves his problems with a doctor and the law,
But Malcolm has his own way, and it's better than them all..

Malcolm solves his problems with a chainsaw!
Malcolm solves his problems with a chainsaw!
Malcolm solves his problems with a chainsaw!
And he never has the same problem twice!

Whether it's a bill or a cheque arriving late,
Rancid marble cheese or a steak that's second-rate,
Awful TV programs or a broken Elvis plate,
or his fiance who dumps him because he's gaining weight..

Malcolm solves his problems with a chainsaw!
Malcolm solves his problems with a chainsaw!
Malcolm solves his problems with a chainsaw!
And he never has the same problem twice!

And that is your lot for this Dirk around!  See you again "soon".  Of which,
"Soon" meaning a time period of three years or less?
CiH, and bits of others, for Alive Mag, Various to Nov '05
Alive 11