My personal train disaster. And the 89th Southside Podcast is available to download!

Well I might not be very good at keeping a blog but I’m one hell of a podcaster. You don’t believe me? Well you wouldn’t would you? That’s just typical you isn’t it? The 89th ‘Southside Podcast’ is available to download
here. And this is the description for this week:

“Following on from last week’s conversation on data protection law, this week we look at disability and employment law with Solicitor Claire Dawson. Continuing our ongoing commitment to bringing you the best in literature, we feature two journalists and authors. Christine Field house’s autobiography ‘Why do Monsters come out at Night’ is an emotional rollercoaster of a book, charting her present life as a mother, journalist and author contrasted with her childhood, living with her alcoholic father. Mark Robberts is a journalist and award winning writer. He talks to us about his work including the many television programs he has written for, his new romantic thriller and shares some insights and anecdotes about working as a writer and as a journalist, serving under the infamous Robert Maxwell.

Plus, presenter David Eagle resurrects, in astonishingly vivid detail, the character who used to haunt Southside Station Manager Alexius Lewczuk’s night’s as a child. Hear how David manages to nearly wreck his whole broadcasting career in just the space of five seconds. There’s a chance to play ‘Guess the accent’ as we listen to a narrator attempting (in vain) to assimilate character accents, and it’s the return of the ‘Mm Game’. All this and more when you “Pod On” this week, in the company of the Adams Family.”

So are you going to download it then? … Look, what about a compromise. If you like, you can just download it and then delete it without listening. At least then, it will make the statistics graph look more impressive. Consider it a way of giving to charity without having to hand over money. Now you can struggle on through the economic recession without having to feel guilty about passing that big issue seller without stopping, and mugging that old disabled woman. So go on,
download it! Aww! Thanks!

And I’d like to dedicate this blog post to the lady who rescued me from a train toilet last week. I know that some sighted people find train toilets a little disconcerting but being blind, the disconcertion factor is increased. The first problem I have is locating the toilet in the first place. The second problem is trying to move down a busy train full of squashed-up standing people without injuring either a few of them or myself. There is also the knowledge that it may prove difficult to regain my seat once I’ve moved and I may have trouble locating my luggage. I can’t really carry a large suitcase down a crowded train and so I leave my seat and head to the toilet at my peril. Then once the toilet has been located it’s often difficult to open it. Sometimes you pull and the door just opens. Other times you have to press a button. Fortunately on this occasion the button was marked in Braille and so it was relatively easy. Once inside, I attempted to close the door but three minutes of grappling around in search of a Braille close button yielded nothing. The toilet remained open. My desperation increased. I found the emergency button, the flush button, a sign for baby changing facilities, the taps, the soap dispenser but no sign of a button to close and lock the door. I decided I would have to ask someone. I took a step outside the toilet and at that moment the toilet door decided to close. Typical! So perhaps it opens and closes automatically when it senses movement. Obviously this is not true. Such a system would have obvious flaws. The toilets in trains are generally quite small and so one tiny movement in the wrong direction and the toilet door would inconveniently open, revealing who knows what. But I was desperate for the toilet and so logic took a back seat. I pressed the open button again and entered the toilet. I then tried walking backwards and forwards, waving my arms frantically, trying to make the senser pick up my movements and close the door. I tried stepping outside the toilet but nothing. After about three minutes of random movements and gesticulations I decided I should resort to my previous plan and to go and ask someone. I stepped outside the toilet for the second time and again, at that exact moment the door closed behind me. I stood there, half paralysed by wonderment and toilet-related desperation. “Surely”, I thought, “you didn’t have to step outside the toilet in order for the door to close, otherwise you’d have to devise an elaborate system whereby two people enter the toilet and one steps out for the door to close so that the other can use the facilities”. But perhaps this was the system. In spite of my desperation, I was intrigued to discover if my theory was correct. I had embarked on this mission alone and I would complete it alone. I blocked out my physical need, using a special technique taught to me by a shaman who had bladder problems, and mentally prepared myself to execute my master plan.

I pressed the open button and entered the toilet. I readied myself. I would have to be quick. My plan was to quickly step out of the toilet and then to quickly step back in again so that I would trick the senser into closing the door behind me, leaving me inside the toilet. I took a deep breath and stepped out of the toilet and quickly re-entered. But the door remained open. I tried again but the door remained open. I stood there aghast, my desperation for the toilet resurfacing. Perhaps I should ask for help after all. But I was just about to step outside the toilet when the door miraculously closed behind me.

So now I was in the toilet. I was conscious of the fact that the door could probably open at any minute. I had no control over this system what-so-ever. I hadn’t found a lock button and so if anyone was to press the open button, the door would slide open revealing a sight that many have longed to see but few have seen. I went about my business and promptly rose. My relief lasted for approximately five seconds. I had successfully gone to the toilet, at last. Mission complete … apart from the fact that I had no idea how to open the door and exit the damn thing. I searched around again for a button but alas, nothing. Again, I located the baby changing sign, the taps, soap dispenser and flush. I found the emergency button, but nothing else. Should I press the emergency button. Was it an emergency? Had it reached the emergency stage yet? My finger hovered over the button. What would happen if I pressed the button? Would the door just open, would a light go off in a room somewhere and someone come to the rescue? Or would alarms sound? I didn’t want to draw attention to myself, that would be embarrassing. Or even worse, perhaps the whole train would stop. Then what would happen? What if there was another train a little way off behind us and the message didn’t reach that other train in time, causing the train to collide into our train and killing everyone on board the two vehicles. Then they would have to facilitate a detailed investigation. Perhaps people would assume I was carrying out an elaborate terrorist attack. Then I would become an icon, a role-model for terrorists and perhaps a spate of suicide train toilet attacks would start occurring and it would all be my fault!!! … Hmmm, best not press the emergency button then. “OK” I thought. “Let’s be logical about this. The toilet door closed on three occasions after three minutes of being stood open. It can’t have been my movements and gesticulations at all. There was no senser. It must work on a timer. After three minutes of the door standing open it would close. So, perhaps the same thing would happen when the toilet was closed. If I waited for a few more minutes then maybe the toilet door would open automatically. I hadn’t locked it, so the system would assume that there was no one in the toilet and open the door”. This seemed to possess a miniscule amount of logic and so I stood there, waiting to see if it would prove correct or not. After five minutes I began to assume not. I then realised that the train was due to stop at my destination in fifteen minutes. I had less than fifteen minutes to get out of the toilet. After that I think the carriages split, sending one half of the train to one end of the country and the other half to the other end of the country. If I didn’t think of something soon the ramifications could be terrible. I had walked down a number of carriages to get to the toilet and I couldn’t be sure that I wasn’t in the other set of carriages to where my luggage was sitting. This was getting worse. If I didn’t get out of the toilet soon I would be heading to the other end of the country while my luggage travelled in the opposite direction. Then, eventually I would be discovered and knowing my luck they’d charge me for the extra part of the journey. Then they’d probably charge me for the journey that my luggage made to the other end of the country. Then they’d probably say I had to get another train to the other end of the country to pick up my luggage, and they’d probably charge me for that journey too. Then I’d have to pay to get back on the train with my luggage and finally get off at the stop I had intended to get off at originally.

Time was running out. So what to do? The emergency button was not an option. Paying for three extra cross-country train journeys and spending hours standing in a loo was still preferable to being branded a train toilet terrorist. There was no point banging on the door or shouting for help. The train was quite loud and I doubted that anyone would hear. Besides, that would have been embarrassing and I wouldn’t want the paparazzi getting a hold of the story. You’ve really got to think of these things when you’re an A-list celebrity. Then the idea hit me. I would find the number of the train company or my train station using one of the directory enquiry numbers – I’m sure
Maureen would understand- and then I’d ring and explain the situation. Someone would notify someone on the train and I’d be let out discretely, and as long as I gave a healthy tip to my rescuer, the story wouldn’t get leaked to the press. It seemed the only way, my only hope. I had ten minutes to carry out this plan before I missed my stop and the carriages split, sending me and my luggage hurtling away from each other at great speed to opposite ends of the country. I took my phone from my pocket and prepared to dial the lovely Maureen, when the toilet door opened to reveal a lady standing before me. I think she was a bit taken aback by my presence and my immense gratitude. She had rescued me from the toilet inadvertently. She was merely an ordinary passenger going to use the toilet but to me she was my knight in shining armour, or should that be, knight in shiting armour! Hahahahahahahaaa! Get it?

So, once more I was a free man. I celebrated by walking down the train, picking up my luggage and successfully getting off at my stop, but before I turned away from the woman who had just entered the toilet behind me, I saw the woman disappear from view as the toilet door promptly closed behind her, without any fuss. I resisted the urge to wait outside for her to re-emerge from the toilet so that I could ask her how on earth she managed to fathom out the elaborate, complex door system. Something’s are best left unanswered. I probably wouldn’t be able to comprehend the complexity of the procedure anyway. In fact, she probably only knew what to do because she was a member of staff. I bet she had to attend a six week training course before she dared brave the toilet. I tried in vain to reassure myself with this facile thought as I headed home with my tail between my legs, though this isn’t unusual as my tail is always between my legs but anyway …

and so, I dedicate this blog post to my rescuer. Thank you!!!

P.S. this is my first bog post. I hope you enjoyed it. Don’t feel obliged to comment and tell me if you didn’t.


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