British Rail card sir? That'll do nicely, thank you

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I HAVE spent the week making commercials for Deutsche Bahn, the German railway company. I made some earlier this year which explained how comfy German trains were. These ones are for something called a Bahncard, a credit card owned by Deutsche Bahn which can be used not only for buying tickets for comfy trains but also as a normal Visa card. So, I present my Bahncard for a ticket to Hamburg and send the Deutsche Bahn ticket person into a fit of ecstasy. I eat in a posh restaurant and triumphantly plop my Bahncard on the bill sending the waiter into a frenzy of riotous joy. I buy designer clothes for my wife with my Bahncard and the shop assistant shakes her head with such pleasure I think it might fall off.

This all seems perfectly reasonable to the Germans, but it would not be as appropriate in this country. If British Rail brought out a credit card I don't think the idea would meet with the same response. Can you really imagine a waiter in a posh restaurant saying: "British Rail card, that'll do nicely sir"? More likely: "British Rail card? I'll just go and get the cook's meat cleaver so I can axe you to death."

IT'S GOOD fun making commercials because you are picked up in a posh car and pampered all day by your personal pamperer, or "runner" as they are known in the business. My runner is called Julian and he's happy to indulge my every whim: "Julian! Tea!" I yell at him and he rushes off, returning seconds later and presenting me with a perfect cup of Earl Grey. "Water!" I yell, and off he goes again. "Booze, Julian, booze! God damn you man!" A bottle of whisky appears for my elevenses.

"Girls, Julian! Money, Julian! Power, Julian! I want power you fool!" and Julian scampers off and comes back with the chain of office of the president of a small Caribbean nation. It's good fun.

IT WAS my birthday on Tuesday and for the last few years I've affected not to like my birthdays any more, although actually I don't really care one way or the other, but it is fun to have a reason to be in a bad mood for the whole day. This year, as with the last few years, it wasn't announced in the Daily Telegraph but was on Chris Tarrant's breakfast radio show, which shows what a low-class person I am, and since I am a snob, irritated me. So I arrived on the Deutsche Bahn film set in a grump and stormed into the wardrobe department to scream and yell at the costume designer, who happens to be the sister of the editor of the Daily Telegraph. She wasn't, however, sympathetic to my position, saying that of course I shouldn't be in her brother's paper and it served me right for being such a stupid little oik. This did not help my mood and when she left the room I kicked her dog.

Several people seemed to have heard Chris Tarrant and came to say "Happy Birthday" and I grunted at them and made them feel difficult. One chap said: "Is it your birthday, Harry?" "Yup," said I. "Oh! Mine's on October 25th!" he replied, which I thought was a rather strange thing to say. What was I supposed to reply? "October 25th! Crikey! That's a much better day for a birthday than today!" I managed a chirpy "right!" which I hoped conveyed the appropriate level of fascination. Someone asked me how old I was and when I told her I was 34 she said: "Gosh! You're just a baby!" which I took as a compliment until I thought about it and realised it was actually another way of saying: "Gosh! You look much older than that." I then allowed myself to be consumed by self-pity for the rest of the day.

When we finished filming they brought in a cake in the shape of a German train which didn't really cheer me up, and I reluctantly blew out the candles and stormed off in a huff, and they were glad to see the back of me.

I think I inherit birthday bad moods from my father, who for the last few years has celebrated his by going off to the other side of the world on his own. He has hated his birthday since his 10th when he was rather upstaged by Neville Chamberlain declaring war on Germany. This seems to be a better reason for being in a bad mood than not being serenaded by the Daily Telegraph, but I'm from a much more fickle generation.

MY BIRTHDAY was bad enough but on Wednesday morning I was plunged into yet another foul mood by the appearance of a woman extra who had to sit behind me at a restaurant table all day. She was one of those extremely irritating people who laughs after everything they say even though not a word they utter is funny. She announced her arrival by saying "Hello, ha-ha-ha! G'morning, ha-ha-ha!" and then carried on in this vein non- stop for 10 hours: "Nice day for it! Ha-ha-ha! Bit hot in here isn't it? Ha-ha-ha! Any chance of a cup of tea? Ha-ha-ha! What time's lunch? Ha- ha-ha! I'm starving! Ha-ha-ha! Ha-ha-ha! Ha-ha-ha!" By tea time I had had enough, so I told Julian to take her out and shoot her.

I'M FEELING sorry for Cedric Brown this week. I've always felt a bit sorry for him because he's called Cedric, which is a ridiculous name and should be confined to the Beano. But this week he has been picked on by the tiny shareholders of British Gas who wanted to sack him even though their shares have gone up as much as his salary since privatisation.

However, I don't mind them yelling at him too much, it's when MPs decide to criticise him that I start to be on his side. Year after year MPs have voted themselves whacking big pay rises far above the level of inflation and pay targets for the public sector. OK, for the last couple of years they've finally bowed to public disgust and frozen their pay but it still stinks of hypocrisy that when Cedric Brown takes a leaf out of their traditional book, they express outrage and disbelief at his irresponsibility. It's a bit like Ernest Saunders shrieking with disgust at the behaviour of Darius Guppy.

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