Sunday, 30 June 2013

DD's Toughest Assignment Yet

Jason C is a man of few words and even fewer comedy photos. Since he retired from his career as a stand up comedian he has shunned the public gaze and leads a quiet life a long way from the action. His main interest is completing online reviews of the performance of Home Energy Survey providers - the three word recommendation he posted in June 2009 is still legendary in Industry circles. 

He Tweets voraciously @Caractucus 

On those rare occasions when the camera does catch him off guard he does his absolute best to avoid being recognised.  Here he is almost seen sitting as part of the Inquisition at one of the notorious GCIRC Kangaroo Courts.

Jason asked us to meet him at Singapore's legendary Raffles Hotel. Fortunately a loan of the Tardis was once more available as he had specified mid - 19th century. After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing we managed to arrive just after the opening ceremony in 1887. At least the beer was cheaper then than when DD had to shell out £10 for a pint of Tiger in 2010.

According to Linkedin you are based in New Brighton, Pennsylvania. How will you be getting to St Pancras?
What's Linkedin?

You survived GCIRC. Any tips for this year's rookies?
Keep your head down, bring a black and white kindle and always smile and nod at Stretch (Mark Lester to you) unless behind his back.

Our contacts working on the PRISM project have uncovered references to you being a runner. How many miles per day do you plan to run while on GCERC?
Having now completed 56 marathons I no longer feel the need to train. 

That is impressive!  56 marathons would get you from St Pancras to beyond Gothenburg on our route. 

Is there anything that you feel we ought to know about any other team member/s?
I refer you to the tip above.

re you related to this lady?
I am the only surviving male Carrodus on Earth. Lisa was an early lab experiment.

Krug or Real Ale?
Krug and Guinness in the same glass.

What is the true story about the tiffin tins?

Many hours were spent negotiating and sourcing the said tins.  Used once and then forgotten /lost /disappeared.  An Agatha Christie mystery.
Is there a particular GCERC highlight that you are looking forward to?
I'm tempted to say the end but that's a little bit harsh even coming from me.  Let's say the scintillating company and endless variety.

Your charity work is well known. What is your connection with Beaver County?
My accountant has advised me to plead the 5th.  (Photo JC3 Accountant)

Please name three tracks that you would like to see included on the GCERC Greatest Hit's Album
Aint no stopping us now -Luther Vandross
Please relies me let me go.  - Tom F. Jones
You turn me right round -  Dead or Alive (moot point at the end of this trip)

Jason. Many thanks for sharing these insights with DD's eight readers. Best of luck with the endless company and scintillating variety. 

Readers, if you are starting to get bored waiting for GCERC to get under way you might take a look at the Tour de France. That takes even longer than GCERC and got off to a splendidly shambolic start yesterday.  DD will be following it avidly at his favourite TdF website Blazing Saddles

LATE ADDITION - The Blazer's take on the Stage 1 Shambles

Our next victim knows who he is. He needs to remember to send the photos.  Otherwise we will have to use those ones.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

DD's Essential Packing Tips

Many people have been asking me "What are the essentials for an interminable rail journey around Europe?"  Search me springs to mind but as D-day approaches the need for answers becomes ever more pressing.  Here's the advice that you won't find on those run of the mill sites.

First up is that absolute essential - flat pack bog paper. This chap has been to India three times and done the Warsaw - Amsterdam sleeper so already has invaluable experience. I wouldn't leave without it as I suspect that there are bits of the former Eastern Bloc where they still use Izal.

All GCERCers are under strict orders to bring a shot glass and a reserve. I'm hoping for a good placing in the 'Most Appropriate Shot Glass for a Train Trip' with my first choice. My back up is a natty little number from a set created  specially for West Lothian Council Housing Department and eventually given away so that the cupboard space could be used. Good to see council tax being used so imaginatively.  I am still swithering over whether to take the decanter with me.

I wouldn't dream of taking a train trip without my trusty thermos flask. Just place it on the table and you are almost guaranteed sole occupancy.


I have never been able to carry off the rugged stubble look so shaving kit is an essential for me. This trip I will be giving a debut to this mini size toiletry. Indian marketing gurus are brilliant. I would never have thought of calling a shaving foam 'Sliver'.


 The 'Holy Shreddies' campaign has produced excellent results and been extended to include 'Sunday socks'. Every day my luggage will get a little lighter.  One thing that will not be getting discarded is the hat.

HOT NEWS  -  You can now follow DD on Twitter.  Yes it's true. DD has joined the 21st Century and become a Twit. Follow all of the inaction with @DisorientatedD. Look out for #GCERC.

We don't normally run adverts but here is a chance if you have missed the GCERC boat. The Independent is running a competition to win 2 First Class Eurail passes valid for a month! You could even get the Sicilian train ferry in on that one.

Our next issue will feature a Celebrity Interview with GCERCer Jason C, a man who makes Howard Hughes look like Piers Morgan.

Friday, 28 June 2013

The Camera Never Lies

You can tell what sort of bloke Paul C is merely by his choice of venue for our meeting. Not satisfied with a crash trip around a couple of dozen countries in a few days' time he announced that he wanted to be interviewed in an Uzbek shepherd's shack. A 17 day, 18,000 km train trip will be a breeze compared with the return flights from Scotland  to Tashkent via Amsterdam and Moscow!

It is no secret that Paul knows how to take photos that don't have his thumb in them but perhaps you didn't know that he recently stood down from the office of Chief Executive of the Duchy of Lancaster or that for 12 years he played for Kilmarnock FC. His horns must have been particularly useful in that role.


What is the best railway related photo that you have ever taken? Can we see it? 
 I think two trains caught having a massive snog at East Croydon might have to do. Or, less mundanely, the Princess Elizabeth over the river taken from inside one of the Diamond Jubilee river pageant boats.  


How did you get yourself into this GCERC mess?
Didn't run fast enough when Lloyd suggested it might be a giggle. I tend to say yes and think afterwards. I am now in a state of turmoil and terror, given that it looks like it's actually going to happen. 

What cameras will you be taking?
Big fat, full-frame Canons with all the trimmings. And a tiny G15 to save on wrist trauma. Will end up getting anything memorable by using my phone, as ever.

That business where you shave just  by rubbing your hand over your face.  Can you teach me how to do that?
I try not to talk too much about my superpowers. I also have the ability to void myself in the downstairs department merely by glancing at the door of the nearest loo and transferring what has to be transferred inside purely by the power of thought. I expect this to come in handy on our trip. I shouldn't have talked about that, should I?

 GCERC is a big step up from taking wedding photos in Margate. Will you be able to cope with the pressure?
 We don't mention Margate. It is a cheerless place.

How did you manage to get Exclusive Copyright to every Uzbek Shepherd's Shack photo on the internet?
Good sanitation is hard to come by in the 'stans. I have the ability to transfer my superpowers simply by touching them on the crook. Make sense now?

Who's the most famous/interesting person that you have given photography tuition to?
Former Pope Benedict. After his retirement he's been looking for new challenges and hobbies. He's been doing bodybuilding with Jodie Marsh, and after that he comes over to mine for a few pointers. He's got a very poor feel for white balance, for obvious reasons.

Is there a particular GCERC highlight that you are looking forward to?
Finding the prospect of midnight sun particularly exciting. I've been getting into training by going out of the house during the day sometimes. 

San Pellegrino or Badoit?
San P all the way. Nobody needs the taste of volcanoes in their mouth.
Tell us about the humiliating initiation rituals that your office interns have to undergo. 
Ah yes. The "happy tomato". I'm glad you mentioned that. Has to be worn for 24 hours continuously for anyone breaking my Rules. These include: using the auto setting on any camera that can't also make phone calls, shooting a group of people at less than f/5, and calling photos "snaps".

The city stop plans for GCERC seem to be crystallizing as 'Send Paul to get a landmark photo while we sit in the bar'. How do you plan to extract your revenge?
While you're all asleep, my camera isn't. 

If you could bring a guest along from any point in history who would it be?
Thomas Tallis. Anyone that can bring that sort of harmony to a group of discordant voices will come in bloody handy on the difficult Balkan stretches.

Three tracks for the album please.
It was a very good year by Frank Sinatra
Puffing Billy (of course) by the Melodi Light Orchestra
Did You Give the World Some Love Today Baby, by Doris.

Paul is clearly a man that we need to keep in with else we run the risk of being syndicated world-wide drooling on our GCERC t-shirts. One suggestion is that we each take days in turn as personal  valet to Mr C, ensuring that his every whim is attended to and watching out for warning signs that he may be unhappy. Apparently these are not difficult to spot. 

Thursday, 27 June 2013

A Quick Rant

Enough is enough! I need to make a stand. For all I know Disoriented Dave is a spotty teenager who sits in his Southend bedroom posting hate comments about Barry Hearn. 

I have an extra two letters. T + A.  If you are from an IT background it may help you to remember if you think about it this way.

Disorient@ed Dave

And no we aren't going to have a discussion about whether it is a word or not. DD likes this
"Cambridge Dictionary states the following:
disoriented:   adjective (UK ALSO disorientated)

confused and not knowing where to go or what to do:"
 Rant over. Normal service will be resumed tomorrow.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Shameless Plug for Struggling Author

One day Lloyd S will be a household name. Maybe for even longer. For now he chooses to write for a living, apparently because it means that he doesn't have to get dressed every day. In order to help make ends meet he spends a few hours a week in deely-bobbers rattling a paper cup outside his local Wine Shop.


His publicist, Mrs Slocombe, isn't helping the cause much. She really scraped the barrel when she sent out this hackneyed family pet shot.  DD is far too classy to run ginger pussy jokes.

Lloyd requested that we meet in the Corporate Hospitality Suite at Old Trafford. DD swallowed hard, prised open the kids piggy banks and made a booking. Sadly there were no tickets available for the match on 3rd January 2010, so instead we took a Tardis trip back to 6th October 2001 to watch this highly entertaining game. As we got stuck into the prawn sandwiches Lloyd gave DD a remarkably frank and wide ranging interview.

DD - Who inspired you to write novels? 

The person who told me "these short stories are bloody terrible, and if this is poetry I'm a chameleon"

What has been your most memorable train trip so far?

Florence to Bologna, mid 1980s. 2am in the morning. Distracted by a beautiful fellow passenger, and suddenly realising the train we were on was going to Trieste and not Rome as planned, I stood up and threw my shoes and jacket out the window, grabbed my rucksack and reached out for the door. Which the guard had just slammed shut. He wouldn't let me off the train, which pulled away, leaving my passport, tickets and money on the platform. In my jacket pocket. The next stop was Bologna, where we had a humiliating conversation with the railway police. I've done a great many stupid things, but this was the stupidest.

On your website you describe yourself as disappointing in the flesh. Care to elaborate?
This is actually a very elaborate piece of passive bragging. It means "Online, I'm bloody magnificent".

Hornby Dublo or Scalextric?
Hornby. Scalextric never worked, did it? No-one ever admits that now. It NEVER WORKED. We all slashed our lips blowing on those wire-wool connectors to make the sodding thing work.

What first attracted you to GCERC?
The chance to spend more than a fortnight in a metal tube with eleven other men, none of whom have brought enough deodorant? You'd be mad to turn an opportunity like that down.

Would you like to spill the beans on any other members of the team?
Mike Griffiths once brought down the Internet by installing kitten pictures on a Yahoo web server. And Darren Foreman secretly wants to be a nun.

Is research expenditure incurred by fiction writers tax deductible?
Yes! See question after next. 

MacDonald's or foie gras?
MacDonald's. Always MacDonald's.

 Is it true that your next book will feature a bunch of guys lured by an evil genius onto a railtrip around Europe and who then get bumped off one by one?
Yes. See research ex
penditure question above. Although I'm pondering killing them off by blowing a carriage up while on a bridge, just like in the Cassandra Crossing. (Note to PRISM - this is a joke, and not a terrorist threat).

Is there any particular GCERC highlight that you are looking forward to?
Discussing underwear. Arguing over personal Wifi hotspots. Running out of paracetamol. Bulgaria.


If you could take anybody from history on this trip with you who would it be and why?
Hitler. Every time we went through another national border we would slap him over the head with that country's national dish, while singing the theme from The Great Escape.

We will be putting together an album "Now That's What I Call GCERC - Vol 83"  Please nominate three tracks for it.
Rock Island Line by Lonnie Donegan*
Mystery Train by Elvis Presley
24 Minutes To Tulse Hill by Carter USM

It has been a pleasure to talk to you Lloyd. Now, about my fee.

*DD wishes to state to the world that he considers Leadbelly's version of Rock Island Line to be superior.

** LS wishes to state to the world that his new book, The Poisoned Island, is out now!   Find out more at

***He has also set up his own blog in competition!!!

Our next issue features 
 an ex - Pope, a Princess and Ritual Humiliation!! 

Monday, 24 June 2013

Such Hjelpful People

DD wanted to pay tribute to those wonderful people at NSB, the Norwegian State Railway company, who gave up their weekend in order to arrange Gratis Ombord Internett access for our team's visit to the land of the Fjords.

Two weeks tonight we will be snuggling down into our 75 cm wide berths onboard the sleeper from Oslo to Trondheim. With a  bit of luck these lovely ladies will be bringing us a cup of cocoa and reading us our bedtime stories.

One thing seems pretty certain - we won't be thronging the bar in the buffet car all night. A glass of wine costs around £10 while a half litre of beer is around £7. Visa/Mastercard are accepted!
For those of you unfortunate enough not to be travelling with us NSB very thoughtfully provide short videos to promote train travel. We will be doing this overnight 7/8th July and this for most of the day on the 8th.

Other News

DD can exclusively reveal the whereabouts of fugitive former Manchester City FC manager Roberto Mancini. Our hotshot lensman had to use a disguised Q-car to close in on the itinerant Eytie who now plies his trade in the Coatbridge area of Central Scotland.

Rumours that he had been seen working in legendary Rome delicatessen Volpetti have now been discounted. The owners of the iconic Testaccio gourmand victuallers were heard to say " We donta wanta anybody stifling flair arounda here."

In our next issue GCERCer Lloyd S will be revealing some disturbing information about other members of the team. Don't miss it!

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Can Green Men Sing the Blues?

With apologies to the Bonzo Dog Band

Spare a thought for plucky Steve D. While you spend the summer polishing the sofa with your derriere and watching England trounce the Aussies Steve will be be making the first ever appearance by a green man in notoriously intolerant Serbia. When asked what kind of reception he expected to receive Steve's reply was "With a bit of luck they will throw bananas at me". In case of problems he will be accompanied by nine minders.

We caught up with our quarry in his luxury pad in South West London. He has a dream job  testing mattresses around the globe (geddit?). Steve has been taking his preparations for GCERC very seriously indeed, training long and hard for many, many years. Here we see him practising how to cope with personal hygiene in unusual circumstances. 

Steve is also a dab hand with a pair of oars and is on standby to row us up the coast of  Norway if we miss the bus connection at Fauske.

DD - What was your best ever train trip prior to this?
Romney Hythe and Dymchurch Railway... or possibly the Great Cockrow Railway for Halloween... Looking at the trip, the Great Cockrow might still be ahead on the 23rd July...

Waitrose or Aldi?
When I'm paying, Aldi - and I'm ok with Lidl too... But Waitrose have the nicest and most polite checkout girls.

What is the most memorable hotel that you have ever stayed in?
Perhaps the Crane hotel in Holland was the most fun, although and Underwater hotel in Sweden when I was woken by the outdoor escape hatch clanging shut and locking was certainly memorable. The hotel room was rocked by a passing 'party boat' and I thought I was going to be stuck there forever. Thankfully I managed to wedge open the door and get help.

And the worst?  (You will be allowed to change your mind about this over the course of our travels).
I stayed in a giant polyester model of a human intestine (Casanus) where the toilets backed up. That's wasn't great. And a sewage pipe hotel room in Austria. There was also a Howard Johnson in Boston that was pretty bad - it had a lot of cockroaches.

Are you really going to be able to pull off the Smörgåstårta? How did you get that job dumped on you?

I was the slowest to step away when our leader asked for volunteers. Stupidly I thought that the Swedes were so hyper organised that it'd be easy. I'm pulling in favours from friends to get us fed right now. And Smörgåstårta do look kinda cool. So we've got to have one, or three. Meat/Fish/Vegetarian - All of them at once?

What first attracted you to GCERC?
I wish I'd gone on the India trip and when I saw the Europe plans my friends said it was a really daft idea. So I had to go - the crazier the trip the better. I'm not as prepared as I'd like. I've failed to research the paper underwear and folding cutlery that others have recommended. I've got a fancy towel that's still in it's packet and a pair of trainers. Which I probably won't bring. The rest I'll work out the day before. No use planning for too much? I haven't really memorised the route yet. 

It's always a thrill to interview an author. I got a copy of your "Micro-economics" off Amazon for £0.01 + P&P.   Great read. What are you working on currently?
I'm going through Amazon identifying and buying from all the people who are selling their second hand copies of my earlier Unusual Hotels books as "unwanted gifts". And eBay. And Charity shops. With the growth of eBay, local jumble sales have taken a bit of a nosedive. Likewise car boot sales. But I'm trying to pretend that people are keen to hold on to the first editions of my books. The rare ones - that I didn't actually sign. Etc. 
And I'm writing an update to my first book. Which surprisingly inspired some people to build Unusual hotels now - and these new places are, of course, included. So it's self perpetuating  really, which is nice, if not particularly lucrative.  

Is there a GCERC highlight that you are particularly looking forward to?
St Pancras. July 23rd. 22.00. I'm less interested in the new and sleek trains, but I'm open to everything. The older, more rickety and miniature the better. If it's steam or even clockwork, that'd be my stuff. But I think those aren't on this trip. Although I did like the possibility of the Pope's private railway in Rome. And crossing a demilitarised zone on a model train. 

You have a young family. What far-fetched excuse have you given them for your forthcoming absence?

I've not actually told them too much. I'll probably say I'm just popping out for a pint of milk. They're resourceful. And I'm sure that social services get these kind of situations all the time. Father absent because he's dossed off on a manic rail adventure. They probably have a special code in the local government social services handbook for exactly this eventuality. I don't have to tell my (ex)wife anything. Probably it's best that I admit to very little.

If you could bring anybody from any point in history along on GCERC who would it be?
That's a toughie. I think I'd take Ester Callaghan from my 1985 college. I fancied her, but could never get her interested. 16 days stuck on trains with me might be enough to get her attentions. If, by some odd-chance she gets to read this, I'm available!
But I think I should better take someone of universal interest to everyone. Perhaps Houdini. I'd love to learn a few magic tricks and think there'll be enough time to actually learn one properly. Or to shuffle cards like a pro. 
Rolf Harris has appeared in the headlines of late for worrying allegations... but assuming it's all nonsense, I'd think he's good fun on a long trip. Otherwise I'll stick with Houdini - if he isn't too tied up. [Ed -Yellow card for that one]

Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1994 or Macallan 1926?
Macallan - with a Gaviscon chaser. 

Three Desert Island discs  please.
Is this Desert Island Discs-Lite... I thought I'd get 8 records... ?? 3's seriously stingy...
I'll take a bit of Kasabian - ReWired, maybe Viva la Vida from Coldplay and anything old by the Rolling Stones - perhaps Jumping Jack Flash, although a bit of The Pretender by the Foo Fighters is getting a lot of airplay right now. They've even overtaken my Abba and Madness favourites... 

Final question. Do you think that there have been enough plugs for your website in this interview?... What website? What business?... Seriously... have I told you what I do for a living?

Next in the cross hairs - Lloyd S.  Don't touch that dial!