After a couple of weeks complaining about other things I am returning to the subject of two earlier blog entries as I just can't leave it alone. And of course because there is still more to say.

Yes, I'm going back to talking about travelling on the railways. So far the majority of the negative things I've been saying about train travel have been to do with fellow passengers. This isn't surprising, as Other People are generally responsible for 95 per cent of trouble, irritation and annoyance in the world. However the third and final whine in the railway trilogy concerns the attitude of the railway people themselves.

A while back the railways - who were probably all one nation under the flag of British Rail at the time - stopped calling their users "passengers" and started calling them "customers". I seem to recall something of an outcry at the time, complaints about over commercialisation and the inappropriate application of a business model to a public service. However, I didn't mind. After all, being a customer implied "customer service", surely. Perhaps the general level of service would improve with refunds when trains were late, free cups of tea and any number of other exciting and luxurious things.

It never really happened of course and recent events have started making me wonder whether "customers" was the word they actually intended to use at the time. Judging by the way members of the public are treated by railway staff these days, I'm beginning to think that perhaps "suspects" might have been closer to the truth. There's the whole overkill when it comes to what they rather wankily call "revenue protection" for a start - when they're having a crackdown the numbers of inspectors present at the station where I work beggars belief. A little mental arithmetic and it's not hard to see that they're very likely spending more on inspectors' wages than they would ever have lost to the small proportion of dishonest travellers.

It's not just fare-dodging paranoia though; there seems to be a general policy across the railway to treat those travelling on it like second rate scum. There was a recorded announcement that was often played recently in my local area:

"You are reminded not to put your feet on the seats. It is very antisocial and unhygienic."

Now hold on, you can't talk to your customers like that - calling us antisocial! In addition the way the announcement is "reminding" us makes the assumption that we're guilty until proven innocent - it implies that we're perfectly aware we shouldn't put our feet on the seats but keep doing it anyway. How about something like "for the convenience of your fellow passengers please do not put your feet on the seats"? Simple, effective and above all polite.

However, its not just the announcements that are downright rude - there are offensive posters too:

"Maximum penalty for trespassing upon the railway is DEATH! (if you accidentally get run over by a train, ha ha)

"People caught vandalising railway property will be SHOT! (on CCTV camera, ha ha)

Then there are all those posters about not verbally abusing their staff. Of course it goes without saying that railway employees should be able to go about their duties without being abused. But surely that's the same for all of us? You don't see notices of that tone in banks or shops for example. Perhaps if they spent less money on poster campaigns and more on the service itself people would have less to complain about and therefore the more bad-tempered members of the public wouldn't be tempted to have a go at the hapless railway employee...

Today is the anniversary of me being single. Being on my own in this way is really starting to have a deleterious effect on my quality of life, and I'm not just talking about gloomy solitude or lust frustration. I feel that in order to meet someone I have to look my best, which means that I have to lose weight, which means that I have to exercise and diet. Exercise is never any fun (no matter what the steroid-freak body nazis at the gym might say) and even though I'm no foodie, a strict diet can be annoying and unpleasant.

But I persevere in the hope that - in the face of all the evidence - it might make a difference. But no matter how much I try and make myself more attractive, the problem remains that I'm not meeting enough eligible women for there to be a chance of it having an effect. The people I'm surrounded by - be they friends or work colleagues - are all firmly in long-term relationships Probably hanging on for dear life if they've spotted what it's like being single out here these days.

So I've had to resort to artificial means. But why not - in today's modern go-get-em world everyone's too busy to spend time flirting, let along wining and dining, right? Online dating is just another service to make the hectic life of the enlightened single modern 21st centurion easier, right? It's cool, and in no way the last refuge of the desperate. - or at least that's what I'm still trying to tell myself.

The first service I tried was a but primitive - you did sign up and pay over the internet but then all they did was send you a printed list of names and phone numbers which I found a bit intimidating. Nevertheless I did eventually manage to go on a date using this service. And what a joy that was.

Doing everything via bits of paper and phone doesn't really give you an idea what someone's actually going to be like. She described herself to me over the phone as "pretty". She wasn't. I'd made my way half way across the county to her hometown - a rather joyless place - and the first thing she suggested we do is go and eat at a pub/eaterie steakhouse type place opposite the station. The food was awful (although maybe that was just the limited vegetarian option). She then ordered a banana spilt for dessert and seemed to get rather carried away at the prospect - when it arrived she resembled nothing so much as an overexcited chipmunk.

The second thing she suggested we do was that we go and visit her friend in mental hospital. I'm not winding you up. This is all absolutely true.

So we did.

You may call me prejudiced, but needless to say that not only did I not see her again, but I never used that particular service again either.

This still isn't very good. It seems almost impossible to get me to write this thing on a daily basis. I've already offered up my excuses; despite this I am rather disappointed in myself. Its almost as if writing on a weekly basis is my limit.

The easiest thing for me to talk about would be the weather were I to conform to the British stereotype. So I won't do that. However, I will use it as a jumping off point. It's been exceptionally hot of late, and whilst I'm more than happy with the long days and the amount of light (which amongst other things prevents SAD), the temperature makes me want to hide in a cave. How lucky am I then to work in an office with brand-new, kick-arse reinforced steel air conditioners. Very lucky, that's how lucky.

Except... since moving into these offices a couple of months ago I've had more colds (or respiratory disorders as I call them when I want to sound high falutin') than I have in the past couple of years. I'm sure the two facts must be related. But can I get anything done about it? Somehow I doubt I can.

Of course this a job for Health and Safety. I've been subject to the whims of this particular manifestation of Personnel (or Human Resources as they now seem to prefer being called) for decades now, as I'm sure you have. Health and Safety inspections are one of those peculiar things that seem to have become increasingly rife at exactly the same time as computers in the workplace became widespread. I don't think this is a coincidence.

In the old days I'm sure the Personnel department in most large organisations had plenty to do, maintaining filing cabinets full of information about their ever-changing staff, making sure that everyone was getting paid the right amount on time and so on and so forth.

And then the computers arrived taking over these tedious tasks and making everything quicker and easier. Whilst this must initially have come as a great relief to the overworked inhabitants of Personnel, it must also have set alarm bells ringing in some of the more paranoid minds there. These unsettled Personnellians were in the perfect position to see that the new-found automation of much of their drudgery meant that there was no need for them any more and that therefore the majority of them would shortly become extinct.

We can't have that, they said to themselves, and promptly set their minds to the creation of new exciting make-work responsibilities such as Appraisals and Project Management. The fact that employers got by without these for centuries beforehand is conveniently ignored; these brave new activities are claimed to be the best thing since sliced photocopiers, and absolutely essential for the success of a modern forward-thinking organisation (rather than the real-work-avoidance tactics that they really are).

Health and Safety is another such activity, as well as being an excuse for Human Resources to flex their muscles. You must do this! they cry, You mustn't do that! It's not healthy! It's not safe!

However, I don't mind being bullied into taking screen breaks and told I can't put that box there if it means I can call on them to fix the air-conditioning. However, it turns out I can't. Apparently if it involves spending money rather than bossing the employees around then they're are not really interested, no matter how much unhealthy danger might be present...