Dear Mark and Sue
Re: 08.06 FGW service from Oxford to Paddington, 14/9/11. Amount of my day wasted: six minutes.
Hey Mark! Hey Sue! Superstar MD (and DoC)! Here we go...
How are you, groovers? Same as yesterday? Same as the day before? Good. Great! Life goes on, Mark, long after the thrill of living has gone. No point in getting upset about it. We've all just got to keep on moving and hope for the best, right? That's the attitude! Well done!
What's that you say? How am I? Lovely of you to ask!
I'm ok, ta. You know. Bearing up. Getting on. Best foot forward and all that. Shoulders to the wall, back to the grindstone. And, once more, it seems, getting my (metaphorical) nib all inky over your trains again. Or, to put it another way (and to tip my trilby to Tolkein): Well, Mark, I'm back.*
It seems that, as sadly predicted, the last few weeks have just been a fillip. A blip. And despite the improved performance of Network Rail or whatever it was that was aiding and abetting your new-found punctuality, standards have once again slipped. Their standards? Your standards? Who knows, Sue! Although I'm pretty sure we all know whose you'll say it was, eh?
This morning you wasted six minutes of my time, Mark. Now I'm not so arrogant to suggest that in those six minutes I might have achieved something lasting and worthwhile and important and beautiful with my life... but, y'know, I might have. I could have at least tried.
A man can do an awful lot in six minutes, right, Sue? More than you might think.
In fact, having considered this for at least 30 seconds, just to make the point absolutely clear, I've decided to list 10 things a man could usefully and gainfully achieve in six minutes, given the chance, and assuming he's not spending them squeezed on a stationary train between a frankly rather fruity-smelling fat man** and a window showing nothing more interesting than that Stepford-like housing estate just outside Didcot. Just so we're clear about the lost potential and all that. The terrible waste.
So here it is then. Here's my list.
1. Destroy the whole world at least one and a half times. (Although having said that, it must be 25 years since I learnt about the four minute warning, Mark. I'm guessing technology has moved on, that intercontinental ballistic missiles have generally speeded up in the decades since, so perhaps these days one might even be able to bring about mutually-assured destruction more than one-and-a-half times in six minutes. I may look into this and report back.)
2. Sing "I Feel Fine" by the Beatles exactly 2.60869565 times. (It's a tune, Sue. And almost certainly the first pop song to intentionally use feedback as an instrument in its own right. But then you knew that already, of course.)
3. Run 3,600 metres. (Provided you're Usain Bolt.)
4. Deliver the "To be or not to be" soliloquy from Hamlet three times. (With a few seconds left over for acknowledging rapturous audience reaction and the collecting of flowers, etc.)
5. Perform a perfect-six-scoring ice-dancing routine based on Ravel's Bolero at the Sarajevo Olympics 1.31386861 times. (Provided you're Christopher Dean. And Jayne Torvill is handy.)
6. Calculate that a thunderstorm is anything up to 360 elephants away.
7. Fall in love six times. (According to the Barlow Standard, as discussed previously.)
8. Romance the wife, smoke a cigarette and then catch a good couple of minutes sleep afterwards.
9. Watch just under 1/16th of Uncle Buck. (A brilliant film, Sue, inexplicably overlooked at the Academy Awards.)
10. Eat 37.2 hot dogs, including buns. (Assuming you're five-time Hot Dog Eating Champion Joey "Jaws" Chestnut, of San Jose, California.)
How many of those things have you achieved Mark? Sue? Exactly! And that's just because we've all had six minutes of our lives wasted! Just think what we could do if there were to be no train delays at all! We'd be Renaissance men, Mark! We'd be Ubermensche, Sue! We could be heroes!
Heady thoughts, liebchen. Much to ponder upon.
*Well, I'm back: best line in Lord of the Rings that, Sue, as I'm sure you don't need telling. Also the last line. Coincidence?
** Why is it that I always get the fruity-smelling fat man sitting next to me, Mark? I look across the aisle (or what I can see of it round the straining shirt, the cantilevered tie) and I see nothing but pretty girls, foxy looking business chicks, perky foreign-exchange students, sophisticated Mrs Robinson-types - a whole carriage full of skirt. Why do I get the bad banana in the bunch? It's like that scene in that Woody Allen film, isn't it? I can't remember what it's called but he's on this train, and there's this other train, and basically his train is rubbish and the other train looks ace and it makes him sad. It's a good film, Mark, you'd like it. (Though it's no Uncle Buck, obviously.)