Tuesday, October 06, 2015

There and Back

I must be getting old - today's trek to a work 'training event' and back has left me exhausted.  Time was that two changes of train getting there and two coming back - a two hour plus journey each way - wouldn't have bothered me unduly.  But by the time I got back home this evening, I was fit to drop.  Whilst the event itself was as colossal a waste of time as I'd expected, the journey there at least took me back through parts of Bristol I hadn't seen in thirty years, or so.  Whilst a lot had changed, it was surprising how much I could still recognise from my student days - much of the journey between Bristol Parkway and Temple Meades stations is still dominated by the backs of old terraced houses, all with extensions of varying shapes and sizes.  Thankfully, quite a lot of them still retain the distinctive flat roofs I've always associated with Bristol.  In another blast from the past, two of the trains I travelled on today were Class 150 DMUs - coincidentally, the prototypes of these 'Sprinter' units were just coming into service thirty odd years ago, just as I was leaving Bristol.  Back then, they were meant to be the new cutting edge of local train travel.  Nowadays, they're the equivalent of the old first generation DMUs (which had been designed and built in the early sixties) which they eventually replaced: tired looking, noisy and rattling. On days like today, I feel much the same way.

Frustratingly, despite spending most of the day on the outskirts of Weston Super Mare, I never got to see the sea - the venue was just too far inland.  It was also pretty dull - the usual tangle of roads, roundabouts and business parks which seem to make up modern towns.  The most interesting thing I saw there was the local branch of Lidl, which was proudly proclaiming the fact that they were the first UK employer to implement the 'living wage', (the real living wage, that is, not the rebranded minimum wage that the Tories are trying to pass off as a 'living wage').  To get back to the event itself, it never ceases to amaze me that in the public sector, where we've had a pay freeze for over five years and suffer constant staff cuts in the name of saving money, management still seem to think that dragging people hundreds of miles for a regional 'event' like this, with all the travelling expenses it incurs (some attendees had to travel up the day before and make an overnight hotel stay at the department's expense), is a good idea.  Personally, I can't see how the loss of a work day and all those expenses can be justified (particularly in the present financial climate) for something that lasted barely five hours and included nothing that couldn't have been delivered via email!  But I guess that's why I'm not a manager.  Roll on the day (in approximately eighteen months) when my mortgage is finally paid off and I have the realistic option of walking away from all this nonsense.



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