Well this isn't very good is it? Only a few days ago I was going on about how I'd be trying to write at least 500 words a day and then I write nothing for five days.

In my defence I would just like to mention that it's not as if I sat down at the computer to blog and then discovered that I had writer's block. It's more that I've been busy. Lame excuse perhaps, but true nonetheless. Last night, a work night, I got home and did nearly four hours of freelance work. That's a whole 'nother half day.

Still, enough of that. Despite the lack of action, I did actually have a rough idea of what I was going to write about. It all came about when I was reading an online advert seeking to fill a position. One particular phrase stuck in my mind.

No Time Wasters

This strikes me as a very odd thing to say. As if someone reading the advertisement is going to say to themselves, "Ah. I was going to apply for this post in order to waste their time and mine, but I see that's specifically contra-indicated, so I won't bother after all."

Does anyone consider themselves a time waster? I don't think so. All this phrase achieves is making the advertiser seem bad-tempered, self-important, officious and humourless.

Not that anyone ever actually considers themselves humourless. This brings me straight to another phrase you often see in small ads, particularly job ads.

Must have a good sense of humour

This bothers me on two levels.

Firstly, just like the Time Wasters phrase, is anyone really going to read this sentence in an advertisement and think, "Hmm. I'd quite like to apply for this job, it sounds like just my cup of tea. Shame I'm such a humourless bastard!"

Secondly, there's something a little sinister about its use, especially in the context of a work situation. It could mean that the job is so stressful and appalling that the only way to survive it is to have a sense of humour in the "you don't have to be mad to work here..." sense. Or even worse it could mean that the bulk of the office staff are insufferable practical jokers, and that if you don't think you could cope with opening your desk drawer to discover a turd in a baguette two or three times a week then you needn't apply.

Finally, there is one phrase you see in small ads that really makes my blood boil. Scour the back pages of your local paper and sooner or later you're bound to come across the following in the For Sale section.

No Offers

This one really does smack of arrogance on the part of the person placing the ad, and what's more is usually part of an ad attempting to sell something second-hand for only marginally less than the current going rate for a new one. Basically, it's a badge of greed, and something which instantly puts me off even considering answering the ad. Thankfully it is becoming far less common these days thanks to eBay and the Amazon Marketplace educating people about market forces. Three cheers for the internet!

I'm attempting to use this blogging tool as a way to practice writing. This is in the hope that if I flex my brain's creative node often enough, I'll be able to start (and in one or two rare cases finish) some of the short stories that are lurking in my head. I have already been blogging approximately 500 words weekly on Myspace (the posts from which I'm going to start sharing here from now on) but I am beginning to suspect that it's not nearly enough. I'm going to aim for approximately 500 words a day on here. Wish me luck.

So here I am wittering away about nothing in particular. I doubt that anyone is going to read it. Which is lucky really - reading this kind of thing is liable to be the literary equivalent of watching a very unhealthy flabby person's first visit to the gym in years. Which is something else I should really be doing.

If only there was some kind of shortcut to all this - if I could get back the physical body I had fifteen years ago I probably wouldn't find the gym nearly as much of an ordeal, and it would be a good habit to get into. And a less decrepit brain would no doubt find dashing of a couple of thousand words every morning a breeze. So by the time I actually got back to the physical equivalent of 41 (albeit at the chronological age of 56) I'd be fit and prolific!

It's shame this isn't going to happen. In the real world I can only hope that all the freelance work I've got to do at the moment means that I'll be casting about for some displacement activity (that doesn't involve playing computer games, watching DVDs and reading internet forums). Of course it all depends upon what I really want - or need - to do more. If the freelance work is more important (after all the hopes and expectations of third parties are riding on the results) then at least I'll get some writing done. And if it turns out that the writing really is more important to me, then well, at least I'll get that pesky freelance work out the way.

Maybe in sixth months time I'll be mentally fitter and therefore reading my outpourings will be more the equivalent of watching some kind of amateur sport - enjoyable enough but obviously not as good as the real thing. Not that I don't want to aim for the real thing eventually, but at this early stage in the proceedings merely contemplating it seems a little presumptious.

I'm not sure about committing to the gym at this point though. It is, after all, at the top of a hill. And I do still manage to half convince myself that cycling to and from work every day is more than enough exercise for anyone. It probably would be if I put some effort into it, but for some reason I seem to cycle more slowly than almost everyone else on the roads. Whether this is laziness or just some residual timidity from being knocked off the thing and having my arm broken a year ago I'm really not sure. I'd probably be safer in the gym. Or indeed knocking out 500 words a day in this blog.

In theory I can drive as I passed my test; however I have never owned a car. As a result it's around thirteen years since I last found myself behind the wheel of a large automobile. I've probably forgotten how to do it. The thing is there's no space for a car where I live at the moment and the advantages of sticking to public transport or cycling around far outweigh the disadvantages.

Not that you'd think that from the way I whinge on and on about it. But the important thing to take on board is that there's nothing wrong with cycling per se or travelling by train per se.

The problem is that you have to engage in these activities alongside members of what sometimes seems to be the planet's dominant species, Homo Stultus ("Stupid Man"). Queuing to buy a ticket behind a member of this species can drive you to premature distraction. However, the problems don't cease once you've bought your ticket.

Firstly, Homo Stultus always has a problem with the seat numbering. Now I don't have difficulty understanding that there are two seats numbered 20 in a carriage - one facing the direction of travel and one not. However, every single bloody time I travel by long distance train, which always involves seat reservations, you can be certain that at every stop a brace of brain-dead individuals will get on and walk clumsily up the aisle peering first at the reservation tickets on the seats and then at the tickets in their hands before declaiming "Excuse me, I think you're in my seat!" in a sickeningly self-righteous tone of voice.

You know the voice I mean. It's that strident tone of moral superiority adopted by the British when they think they've got the law or "common decency" on their side and therefore feel that it's safe to speak up.

It's great fun deflating the users of the voice, which is why I find it relatively easy to call upon my limited reserves of calm as I patiently explain to them the difference between the letter F and the letter B.

What is even more enjoyable is the sight of the expressions on the faces of people who haven't reserved a seat when they enter the carriage. The stunned disbelief as they realise that every single one of these seats has a little "reserved" slip sticking out of the top and the slow realisation that they're going to have to stand all the way to Edinburgh combine to form a very fine vintage of schadenfreude indeed.

However, the feeling rarely lasts. Going to the toilet on a train is uncomfortable enough without the illiteracy of your fellow passengers intruding upon it. But no, more often than not I'll be sitting there, door locked, knees uncomfortably wedged against the sink then someone tries the door. Then kicks it. Then tries it again. Excuse me, but what part of the word "Engaged" do you not understand?

This is one of the new ticket machines on Brighton station. Not bad really. A nice touch screen, which means that there are less moving parts to break - and that the interface can easily be updated by installing new software. It takes credit cards, which means that, what with the new chip-and-pin system, buying a ticket should be quick, easy and painless. Its cousin - not pictured - takes coins and notes as well as cards, so there really is no excuse for not being able to buy your ticket now.

Finally, something that will free us forever from Ticket Hall Hell - where belligerent morons use the fact that they're buying a ticket from an unfortunate cashier to make the rest of us wait in a frustrating, interminable purgatory. You know the types.

Firstly, the kind of person who doesn't know where they're going, when they're travelling or what a train is until they arrive at the ticket window. They then proceed to use the hapless ticket clerk as a sounding board about what route to take, what time of day would be best to go, and whether Auntie Mabel would like an Easter egg this year.

Then there are the sub sentient suffers of BRAF Syndrome (Blind Refusal to Accept the Facts), who, upon being informed of the fare, begin cantankerously arguing with the ticket clerk, apparently unaware that their quarrelsome bartering system doesn't extend beyond Sunday's car boot sale in the station car park.

So all in all, can we now safely say that these new machines, such fine specimens of twenty first century technology, will offer all decent ticket purchasing folk a brave new world of relaxation, convenience and greatly reduced frustration?

Like fuck we can.

Unfortunately, all the intense usability testing and high-powered human/machine interface design in the world cannot make up for the fact that 90 per cent of the general public are basically just too stupid to live. You can understand that perhaps the first couple of times someone uses one of these things they might be a bit bamboozled - but every single time I use one, every single person in front of me behaves like Neanderthal man suddenly and inexplicably finding himself at the controls of the space shuttle.

Firstly they go round and round the menus, ending up every couple of minutes or so back at the beginning again. There seems to be something very basic about selecting the name of their destination station that gives them trouble. I know that some people say educational standards in this country are slipping, but surely most people at least know the alphabet?

Eventually - I suspect more by accident than design - they manage to select the name of the station to which they're going only to be confronted with such complex conundrums as the difference between "single" and "return" and whether it's 10am yet.

By now I've usually missed at least two trains and am silently seething. However, the worst is yet to come - they have to pay for their tickets. I normally choose one of the machines at which you can pay by cash or card, so am treated to the sight of the cash-payers examining every square inch of the right-hand-side of the machine (where the card slot is) and the card payers looking for somewhere to insert their plastic on the left-hand side of the machine (where the coin and note slots are). I've genuinely seen people actually give up at this point - despite the huge arrows on the screen that indicate into which side they can insert their chosen method of payment.

Somehow a few of them actually make it through to the dispensing of the ticket. They scrabble around in the tray to retrieve it, peer at it suspiciously and then hang around in front of the machine as if waiting for permission to go.

What can we do about it? A trap door that opens up in front of the machine if they haven't completed their transaction in two minutes? Or, as I've said before, two queues for everything - a normal one and one labelled:

"People Who Don't Know What The Fuck They're Doing".