I have now been here for an indeterminate number of weeks and these are some views that I may or may not hold.

First of all, I bet you’re all dying to know whether you got the puzzle right, dear readers. Well, the answer was “change at Battersby for Hartlepool, and then you have to walk.”

To anybody who guessed “Thirty trombones, two tambourines and a flute”, you probably failed to take account of the Winter 2015 timetable change. Good try, though.

Now then, to business. The more astute amongst you may well have noticed the recent trend of buses being more and more late with every passing week. This is not, as the less astute amongst you may believe, an optical illusion, but a real, measurable phenomenon.

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I have not been here for four weeks and I think you can do the maths from now on.

Well, that was Christmas, for the 2015th time since the beginning of history. Come on, think about it, you can’t have minus years, that would be dumb.

The more astute amongst you may interpret the above statement as proof that the americanization of society (and spelling) has finally got to me and I have become one of the mindless sheep that will one day be nothing but conscripted cannon fodder in the great never-ending war for oil. Or for freedom of religion, if you’re squeamish.

This isn’t true, of course. But it could have been.

It does, however, bring me nicely to my central question of the week. The PETA people go around chanting “Fur is murder!” and “Down with meat!” and “Linda McCartney did nothing wrong!” Living as I do in the heart of rural England, it occurred to me to wonder…if fur is murder, what about sheepskin? You never hear any protests about that. There’s not even any stigma attached to wearing sheepskin coats like there is with fur coats. Awful confusing, if you ask me.

Now for the puzzle corner. After an entire month of cogitation, you will no doubt have arrived at the correct answer – “The Battle of Waterloo”. In fact, you couldn’t have escaped it if you wanted to.

Wah-oh-wah-oh-wah-Waterloo, knowing my fate is to be with you.

That is all, except for next week’s puzzler, “What gets wetter, the more it rains?” The answer may surprise you.

Now go outside and do something useful. It’s too late for me.

I have now been here for fourteen weeks and I think this running joke was a bad idea.

On the bus to college today, I noticed something truly miraculous. Petrol was going for under a pound a litre! Perhaps there’s been some huge upheaval in the Arab world. Nah, that’s hardly likely. The censor-general reckons it’s just a marketing ploy by the big supermarkets to get us to spend more in their shops.

Now, I don’t usually buy petrol myself – I can’t stand the taste and it’s terribly fattening. However, it’s been a jolly long time since I last saw prices like that, and I am nothing if not a nostalgia addict. Things were better in the past, even when they weren’t. In fact, especially when they weren’t. Roll on the nineteen-nineties.

And that’s reminded me of something that could almost be called amusing – on New Year’s Eve 1999, I saw one of my parents’ friends wearing – and I kid you not – a cardboard waistcoat, painted silver, with the number “2000” plastered all over it. This boggles my mind in three different ways. First of all, I can hardly bring myself to believe that such an absurd garment even existed at all. Secondly, it beggars belief that somebody would actually think such formalwear was smart and would impress one’s fellow party guests. Finally, why oh why oh why would my dear old mum and dad actually deign to fraternise with somebody who thought that way.

I shan’t reveal the offending party’s name, I’m not that vindictive, but he knows who he is and should feel rightly ashamed. Then again, he probably won’t ever read this. Nobody will. Not even you. If you are under the mistaken assumption that you are reading this article, then consult my Week 9 piece for existential guidance.

Now, how many of you figured out last week’s little brainteaser? I thought I should start out with a simple one, to ease you into the game. Therefore, it should come as no surprise to discover that the correct answer was, of course, fourteen and a half chickens per mile.

This week’s one might tax the old grey matter, mind: “Whale blubber in political confusion, except for a salty surprise.” Six across, eight letters.

I’ll give you  a month to work it out, whilst I go and do some Christmas, as is customary at this time of year.

Many happy first-class returns!

(Think about inserting unlucky thirteen joke here)

As I write the words that you are now reading (assuming, of course, that you are in fact reading them, you can never be too careful these days), I am about to sit the first exam of my course. The more astute amongst you may recall that the subject of this course is accounting. Or possibly accountancy. We haven’t learned the difference yet. Speaking more generally, I wonder if I’ll ever learn the difference. Ho hum. That’s probably why I took up accounting. Or the other one.

So, what else has been going on? The sun’s out, which is odd for December, and every street in every town is bedecked with fairy lights and holly, which isn’t.

Now, I’m no humbug, despite the reputation I’ve been carefully cultivating through this column. Christmas really is the most wonderful time of the year, whatever you want to call it. Except “Winterval”. Please don’t call it that. The last thing we need is for political correctness to actually, literally steal Christmas. Then again, that’s not a half bad idea for a schmaltzy and entirely unmemorable holiday film.

…I couldn’t find a good photoshop of a faceless bureaucrat as the Grinch, so once again you’ll have to use your imaginations. Put down your phone and give it a go, you might just be surprised.

One last thing until next week, I’ve just decided to introduce a regular feature – each week I shall include a secret message in a mysterious code, the answer to be included next week. Here’s your first one: “25055 Yugoslavia headband swimming pool Clapham Junction 47258”. If you need help, here’s a clue word – “butter”. Good luck!

One other last thing, I’ve just realised that I’m not sitting on a swivel chair. How did I discover this, I hear myself wish you were asking? Because I tried to swivel around and did myself a mischief on the back-rest.

Next week I shall be singing a couple of octaves higher.

I have now been here for eleven weeks…I think that’s a record.

By now, some of you may be wondering what precisely my motivation to write all this rubbish actually is. Truth time: it fills half an hour of a boring day. Start sending me fan mail and I might change my mind, though. Then again, who am I kidding, nobody sends mail any more. Tradition is dead, killed by electronic gizmos like this Mac I am forced to use to type up my weekly pile of drivel. I was all for printing a proper newspaper, when I signed up I thought it would be like Steven Moffat’s “Press Gang”. How wrong I was.

You probably don’t even remember Press Gang. To be honest, neither do I, but that’s entirely beside the point. Best to forget about it and move on.

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I have now been here for nine weeks and I think I’m starting to run out of ideas.

The more argumentative amongst you might suggest that I never had any ideas in the first place. I don’t dispute this, but you must at least concede that I’ve done an excellent job of drawing attention away from that particular point.

Those of you who have the good fortune to be both astute and argumentative may offer the rebuttal that since nobody reads this drivel anyway, it hardly matters. Once again, you’d be quite right to say that, but I doubt that you would since doing so would logically invalidate your own existence. Continue reading

I have now been here for seven weeks…but you might be forgiven for thinking that it was eight.

As I write this latest instalment of what I am reliably informed is referred to as a “column” in journalistic circles, I am surrounded by crib-sheet-style wall posters explaining all about how to deconstruct a film. Now, I’m of a traditional bent, so I usually just watch the things, but there is a school of thought these days that believes that there is such a thing as “sub-text”. This does not refer to the words at the bottom of foreign fils, but to a supposed “deeper meaning” in the story and the characters and what-have-you.

I have never picked up on any sort of “deeper meaning” in what I read, watch, or listen to and I don’t expect that I ever will. Therefore, either I am extraordinarily dim-witted or there is a conspiracy in the mass media to implant subliminal messages in every kind of media that the population consumes. Those are the only possible explanations.

In other news – well, not “news” exactly, but bear with me, Hallowe’en just happened for the 2015th time. Because everybody knows that it was invented by the baby Jesus after his cataclysmic battle with Satan at the beginning of time. Uneducated Americans on Twitter said so, so it must be true. We had a pair of Jehovah’s Witnesses turn up at our house just as it was getting dark. They didn’t seem to understand why we kept trying to give them sweets…apparently Hallowe’en isn’t a thing for them. Like organ transplants. Or fun.

One final point, Star Wars is coming back. It’ll probably be a terrible disappointment. Unless it isn’t. But if it is, you heard it here first. Unless you didn’t.

P.S. Don’t believe anything you read with your eyes.

Unless you do.

I have now been here for six weeks…I think.

It has come to my attention that some people don’t like to eat cake because they’ll get fat. A more principled journalist might use that sentence as the lead-in for a tirade on the dangers posed by unrealistic standards of beauty imposed by society, but I am neither principled, nor technically a journalist. So I’m instead going to focus on the cake.

It’s a cake. What were you expecting to see?

There were, and indeed are, cakes being sold in the cafeteria today (unless you’re not reading this today, in which case, there probaly aren’t) in aid of alleviating the terrible hardships that exist in the Gambia. I am reliably informed by the world map on the wall that this is in Africa. As you may know, Africa has been stricken terribly by the curse of ebola, and just because I’m choosing not to make jokes about that doesn’t mean I can’t think them up and laugh privately. My thoughts are my own until I put them down on paper and the Orwellian forces of social justice can’t do a thing about it.

More cake, since I don’t think you want to see pictures of ebola. I mean, it’s not nice.

The cakes themselves, though, were very nice. There were chocolatey ones, and non-chocolatey ones, and fruity ones, and fairy ones, and they all sat together on the tray in perfect harmony. Society could learn a hell of a lot. Just saying. So go buy some, and it’ll save the world. Unless they’re all gone, in which case don’t bother, you’ll just make a fool of yourself. Never make a fool of yourself, especially not online. You’ll never hear the end of it.

Next week I will be on holiday. Amuse yourselves in the meantime.

I have now been here for four weeks and this is what I think now.

The more astute amongst you may have picked up on the fact that my previous piece for this stalwart publication was not of an entirely serious nature. Well, there’s going to be no more of that. Succinct and accurate reporting of current events, that’s all you’re going to get out of me from now on.

The even more astute amongst you may have picked up on the fact that the previous paragraph was in fact a great big lie. I’m just writing whatever I feel like and nobody can stop me. Except of course for the fellow with the ponytail who recommended I put more pictures into my articles. To that end:

Recognise this? If not, you probably shouldn't be reading this.

Hurrah for the dear old school and yar-boo-sucks to Bridgwater College.

The even MORE more astute amongst you may have picked up on the fact that most things you read on the Internet are a great big lie anyway, so the previous paragraph was entirely redundant, as was the accompanying picture. Perhaps I should get on and say something halfway relevant.

If you happen to be extraordinarily astute, you may have noticed that the weather’s been rather naff, all things considered, every single Monday so far this academic year. I suspect that this may be a DASTARDLY PLOT by whichever other local college we’re supposed to be rivals with. If there isn’t one, then a rivalry should be established forthwith, and if at all possible, fifthwith and sixthwith as well. It needn’t be too vicious, just a sort of friendly unfriendlyness that only really comes out when there’s a football game or something.

Is there even a football pitch here? Answers on a postcard please. Preferably not one with a nude girl, those keep getting confiscated.

Still want me to fill these posts with relevant pictures? Thought not.

I have been here for five weeks and I no longer think.

I have found everything here to be terrible, except for the things that aren’t. The fact that there are actually fewer terrible things than non-terrible things is entirely irrelevant. However, it is the irrelevancy of that clarification that makes it relevant.

The more astute amongst you may realise that I am in fact referring to the college’s breakfasting facilities, which I sampled today for the first time. Three pounds and twenty-five new pence left my pocket and a motley selection of fried items entered my digestion. Allow me to elucidate in a southerly direction:

https://i0.wp.com/www.grange-hotel.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/breakfast.jpg

This is not the precise breakfast I received, but the newspaper can’t spare a photographer to follow me around so you’ll have to use your imaginations a little bit. Oh wait, they’ve been irreparably dulled by Instagram and Angry Birds. Whatever those are.

Bacon, sausage, fried egg, mushrooms and a choice of hash browns or fried slice. That’s what you get. Oh, and tea. Or bean-based tea substitute if that’s what you’re into. There’s no accounting for taste. Or lack of it.

Overall, I was fairly impressed with what was dished up, well worth the price of admission and it set me up a treat for the arduous morning of hanging around doing nothing that followed. And they say education is wasted on the young. Ho ho. How right they aren’t.

https://pbs.twimg.com/profile_images/1986641259/breakfast.jpg

Also not my breakfast, but it’s nice to look at and that’s the important thing.

(If any of the cafeteria staff are reading this, give us a free breakfast every now and then and my weekly essay will be filled with naught but praise for your efforts.)