In which The Author writes the Letter of the Week
in the regional newspaper
Since deregulation and privatisation, public transport in South Wales has been next to useless. Quite a few of my letters to the press concerned the travails faced by people commuting to work. This one was published in the regional evening paper, the South Wales Echo, and was adjudged Letter of the Week:
South Wales Echo
January 31, 2002
When I was at university, my friend Bob used to enjoy role-playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons. These were usually set in fantasy worlds populated by wizards and elves, and were very much the preserve of Tolkien buffs and heavy metal fans. I had assumed that the growth of ‘virtual reality’ computer simulations, particularly those played over the Internet, had supplanted these earlier games. It seems that I was wrong.
This week, one of my work colleagues showed me an advert in Buses magazine, for a company in Essex who produce a ‘Tabletop Buses Game.’ For £25, these people will equip you with everything you need to set up a model bus company. They will even paint the model buses in the colours of your favourite operator, so that you can re-enact the great commuter journeys of the world in the comfort of your own home.
Obviously the box-office success of The Lord of the Rings has revived the board game market. According to the advert, this game enables you to ‘run a bus company on time, at a profit, and by the rules’. Surely this must be the ultimate fantasy game, set in a parallel universe where the laws of physics are replaced by magic. After all, if it was a virtual reality simulation, the advert would read, ‘Run a bus company with no regard to time, with generous local authority contracts, and according to the whim of your drivers’. It sounds to me like the ideal pastime for the fantasy nerd who has everything – now where on Middle-Earth did I put Bob’s phone number …?
In which The Author has a letter printed
in the regional newspaper
In ‘A Letter From the Editor‘ I mentioned that I used to be a prolific letter-writer to the local press. This one was published in the South Wales Echo. It appeared on my day off, so I didn’t know it had appeared until the following day. Apparently the lads in Mulligan’s laughed so loudly when they read it that Jeff and Laurie were surprised I didn’t hear them from my house.
Your little jibe (Editorial, 21 September) about buses running on time made me wonder about the parallels between UFO sightings and bus non-sightings.
Both UFOs and missing buses are frequently reported by a wide cross-section of the public, regardless of their age, gender or religious background. Both phenomena used to excite a great deal of interest by local newspapers and TV stations, but are now largely disregarded. Reliable witness testimony is usually met with disbelief, if not outright scorn, by the bodies concerned with their official investigation. UFO abductees and bus passengers often set up support groups in order to compare notes, and offer each other help and counselling in recovering from their traumatic experiences. In both cases, the government has stonewalled any calls for an enquiry into the phenomenon, claiming simply that it doesn’t exist.
Some American theorists have suggested that UFO sightings in the 1980s were in fact test flights of the radar-invisible ‘Stealth Fighter’, and were therefore denied by the Pentagon on the grounds of national security. Is it possible that Shamrock Coaches have developed a ‘Stealth Bus’, invisible to all forms of detection, including the human eye? I think we should be told …
Being a Non-Linear Account of the Life and Opinions of The Author, Cross-referenced and Illustrated, with Occasional Hesitations, Repetitions and Deviations.