They prosecute nuns, don't they?

SECOND-HAND bookshops? We got 'em. Hundreds, round here. They won't be here much longer, because the British Library has moved to the gritty, dust-blown scum territory of Kings Cross, and now Bloomsbury rents will be going up, but that's all right: we won't have bookshops but we'll by God have Starbucks and Pret-A-pigging Manger and ditsy clothes shops and tourist tatterias, probably a few robot-service sushi bars and lots of high-impact opticians selling ironical spectacles for the terribly exciting young New Media specialists and title-sequence background animators who'll be moving in, any day now.

But, for the moment, we have second-hand bookshops, containing wonders. Today I scored a dog-eared copy of the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom and William Adlington's 1566 translation of The Golden Asse by Apuleius, and, as you can imagine, they have set me thinking about London's public transport system. The thing is, Old Jack Chrysostom missed his chance. What we really need is a simple ejaculation: "Oh God, I wish You existed because there is stuff I need you to deal with."

Stuff, for example, like reducing the HQ of London Transport to a smoking crater, shrouded in a feverish dust compounded of the pulverised bones of honking managers in nylon socks.

And why? Not because of the closure of half of London's tube lines at any given time. Eight million people a day driven weeping on to the surface by cackling, blood-drenched Underground guards wielding 8ft 6in 16-plait kangaroo-hide RM Williams stockwhips? No; we cannot blame London Transport for this little problem, which was in reality caused (as Nostradamus predicted) by: (a) peculiar suggestive fissures in the Deputy Director of Unpersuasive Whining Noises' dinnertime liver'n'onions; (b) a dodgy misalignment between Jupiter, Aldebaran and the undiscovered planet Sprod the Putative; (c) two dead toads under a beulah bush witnessed by the Assistant Manager (Managerial Information Services (Support) Directorate (Support Division (Secretariat))) on his holidays; and (d) a flock of pigs flying past the boardroom window and distracting the Chief Enforcement Officer at a crucial moment.

Furthermore, it's nothing to do with London Transport. Surprised? Ha. London Transport doesn't do tubes any more. Tubes are London Underground Limited. London Transport does buses, despite the fact that they all seem actually to be run by companies called things like Arriva and Praevia and Sensitol.

Do you understand any of this? No; nor do I. It's something to do with "business", and, as anyone will tell you, it would be intolerably bad form for any God to take revenge on some hapless organisation, which, in normal times, you might think should simply be disbanded and its management sold into gerontophiliac slavery. Any God might, on the other hand, feel obliged to step in on behalf of the nun.

The nun was London Transport. You will remember the nun, because a week or so ago she was hauled before the courts by London Transport for falling asleep on the bus and missing her stop. What would you have done with the nun? That's right: you would have said to yourself, "Poor thing, up since 5am, spent her day in good works, has taken a vow of poverty, I will see her safely on her way with a kind word out of sheer human decency." But not London Transport! No; they prosecuted her. Their mothers may fondly believe that they are selling drugs in a brothel, but, no! They prosecute nuns! Real men!

A lesser journalist than I might have thought, at this point, it was worth ringing London Transport and speaking to a "spokesperson", or, possibly, some adenoidal jobsworth in cheap trousers who would parrot a wholly unconvincing set of self-serving lies through clenched and yellowing teeth, which I would then report. Well balls to that. London Transport has no right to reply. It has no right to live. It has, like so many other thoroughly modern, profit-centred, management-oriented organisations, so completely absolved itself of any of the duties of simple humanity that it has lost the right to be accorded the complementary privileges. And so one reads St John Chrysostom with mounting fervour, praying for God to reappear from His immemorial fastness and smite the buggers into screaming oblivion, aionas ton aionon.

But it won't happen. They will go on from strength to strength, and nuns will continue to be prosecuted, and the tube lines will continue to disintegrate, and men in cheap trousers will continue to be paid for telling unconvincing lies. And Apuleius? Oh come on. The Golden Asse. Says it all, really, wouldn't you agree?

Arts and Entertainment
Legendary blues and rock singer Joe Cocker has died of lung cancer, his management team as confirmed. He was 70
music The singer has died aged 70
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams looks concerned as Arya Stark
tv
Arts and Entertainment
photography Incredible images show London's skyline from its highest points
Arts and Entertainment
'Silent Night' last topped Classic FM's favourite Christmas carol poll in 2002
classical
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tv 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there