John Gibson: Inspectors to roll with the punches

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Ducking and diving. Will it be worth £17,000 a year, the highly skilled job of inspector on our beleaguered and much-belittled trams, 27 of them imported from Tramsylvania? Own up. Would you be brave enough to ask, politely, a belligerent fare-dodger to cough up the ten quid on-the-spot fine? You’re not going to meet up with nice guys like Frank Bruno, pictured, between the lines in Edinburgh, know wot I mean?

And, hey, listen! Nothing surer, we are about be entertained seeing some stirring encounters on the trams once they start rolling in in earnest. Wait for it. Sit back and watch. Incidentally, that bell, that insipid tinkle we’re hearing from the trams on trial, it sounds like somebody rattling a pencil against an empty milk bottle.

That 17 grand a year . . . is it pensionable? If not, why not? There’s unlimited lolly in the pot.

By the book

That Bradshaw railway timetables book that fits snugly into Michael Portillo’s pocket. He lives by it, eats by it, swears by it. It’s his treasured tome.

But the excessively thumbed book, his ‘‘Bible”, doesn’t utter a word about befriending a 26-year-old researcher.

Reportedly he was spotted departing her London flat. The Conservative former Cabinet minister is 60. She’s a journalist. The official word is that they are “just good friends”. Is the game up, Mike? Exposés are leaking by the day from the Consrvative camp, so we shouldn’t be shocked. My attempt to pin down Portillo was unsuccessful. He had a train to catch.

Is she a looker? Did you meet her on the platform? Shades of Brief Encounter, a memorable movie with trains at its core.