I’m not saying that TV quiz shows are dumbing down these days, but a recent edition of the usally high-brow Mastermind (top prize: a lovely vase) featured the following specialised subjects: The religious works of Rembrandt van Rijn, BBC Radio comedy 1940-1960, the fiction of Graham Greene 1938-1983 and ...err... The Manic Street Preachers.
Next week, for God’s sake, they’ve got English league football grounds, romantic literature 1789-1830, the songs of Randy Newman and the Harry Potter Films. Both Harry Potter films. Hardly taxing work for the brain if you ask me. Seeing as your typical question on the show these days seems to be “How many fingers am I holding up?”, I feel that I may stand a fair-to-middling chance with questions on my lifetime’s obsession: “Fiesta Readers’ Wives 1973-2003”.
I haven't met a genuine nutter on the train for at least two weeks now. However, joining the 1136 from Winchester today, I was accosted by a bearded idiot who cornered me with his life story and comments of utter genius ("genius", of course, meaning "certifiable" and not "really, really clever and the bestest person in the world" which is how it is used in the context of this site), which I could not allow to pass without comment.
"I am from Poland. You must travel to my country." "Not with me, mate."
"I have a bicycle. It was made in The Philippines."
"I am from Poland. We have a railway network there."
"I am from Poland. Today I am travelling to Basingstoke." The poor bastard.
"I did not know you have to buy a ticket to ride on a train. I tell them I am from Poland but they do not listen. We have a railway network there. You must travel to my country. I am fined one hundred and fifty English pounds sterling for not buying a ticket. It is crazy. I am from Poland. My bicycle is from The Philippines."
"Have you ever been in a Turkish jail?" No, hang on, I made that one up.
Tell you what, if he was a secret agent desperately trying to get a codeword out of me, he was heading for a major disappointment.