INSANITY

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Indy Lifestyle Online
A few weeks ago, the rail industry was reported to have implemented a new code of practice for its drivers. Under the new rules, drivers may accrue varying numbers of penalty points for a wide range of faults. Any driver with more than 15 points on his record is considered a class A risk, and 30 points qualifies him for an interview by his manager and possible dismissal. It is the nature of the offences, however, that have aroused some adverse comment.

Wearing a moustache, for example, is considered to be "offensive and aggressive" and scores five, which is one point more than leaving a train unattended. Stopping short at a station scores two, a death in the family scores one, as does not sounding the horn properly. Being a "known drinker" will cost you nine points.

Any unbiased observer should immediately see the rationale behind the system. Only a month ago, for example, a bogus conductor was identified as operating on South London commuter trains, pocketing hundreds of pounds in fares he had collected from passengers. And he sometimes disguised himself with a beard and moustache. No wonder drivers are given a five- point penalty for wearing a moustache: they might be mistaken for bogus conductors in disguise!

The new system has come in for a good deal of criticism and ridicule, yet my own research, carried out over a lengthy period, fully confirms its validity. For many years I have been developing an Insanity Inventory - a list of symptoms I have detected among colleagues and acquaintances that alert me to a potential instability in their mental state. I have used this for a long period in selecting my friends and have found that it never fails. Its very potency, however, has caused me to keep it secret until now. Yet the similarity of the new railway industry system to my own Insanity Inventory is so marked that there is no longer any point in keeping the results of my research to myself.

For the first time therefore, here is the official Insanity Inventory. It is only when a score of 15 is reached (by a strange coincidence, exactly the same level as the new railways system) that a person should be considered a class A risk.

Let me stress that no individual item on it need cause any concern. The candidate simply scores one point for each item that corresponds to his or her behaviour. So, for example, a person with full facial growth of hair scores one point for not shaving, but a man with just a moustache is, as the railmen have noticed, a greater villain and scores points under both 3 and 4. Being American also scores two (one for being foreign) but wearing braces on teeth and trousers scores only one.

My only regret is that the rail operators have not extended their system into people's spare time. I have another list of Things People Think They Enjoy Doing But Don't Really, which could also count against train drivers: going to ballet, watching golf or motor-racing on television, Japanese food, parties, Christmas, getting drunk, fairground rides, instant coffee ... and wanting to be a train driver when you grow up.

THE INSANITY INVENTORY

1. Vegetarianism

2. Supporting a football club

3. Not being clean shaven

4. Having a beard or moustache

5. Wearing braces (teeth or trousers)

6. Being more than two inches below average height

7. Being foreign

8. Being American

9. Waving hands when talking

10. Frequenting public houses

11. Pot-holing, mountaineering or other dangerous sport

12. Speaking in high-pitched voice

13. Being bald

14. Half-frame spectacles or bifocals

15. Having ever taken a camping or caravanning holiday

16. Having more than two children

17. Owning more than one Jeffrey Archer novel

18. Owning a small dog

19. Owning a rucksack

20. Wearing a polyester tie

21. Collecting stamps

22. Saying "brilliant" more than twice a day

23. Having more than two first names

24. Jogging or taking any other regular exercise

25. Parting hair on the right

26. Having no earlobes

27. Not liking chocolate

28. Having dandruff

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