Dear Mark and Sue
Re: 08.06 FGW service from Oxford to Paddington, 15/9/11. Amount of my day wasted: eight minutes.
Morning Mark! Here's looking at you, Sue!
What's occurring, miei figli piccoli? How's tricks, mes petites amis? Good? Really? Somebody's clearly not being paying attention in class!
Your trains, Mark, your stuttering engines, your tatty carriages and worn-out "vestibules"... they ain't cutting the Colman's, are they? They're not pulling their weight. They're just not doing the job. What is this, the fourth letter I've written you this week? And what have the delays been? What are the minutes of mine you've wasted? What's the latest tally of tardiness?
Five minutes plus five minutes plus six minutes plus eight minutes... that's what mathematicians call a downward trend, Mark. It's what statisticians call "negative drift" (probably). It's what astrophysicists call a "declining inclination" (also probably, but less likely). It's what neuropsychologists call "detrimental mobility impetus" (almost certainly not, but they should. In fact, I may even write to the Royal College of Neuropsychologists suggesting it.)
In short, and to put it all in layman's terms, Sue, in the kind of language that good communicators use (the best kind of language, Sue!): things are getting worse. After a blissful (for all concerned, Mark!) fortnight of relative indolence, I'm finding myself busier than ever trying to waste your time the way you're wasting mine. It's exhausting, Mark! It's draining, Sue! It's making me a shell of a man! A husk!
It's lucky I've got no hobbies, interests, social life or significant extra-curricular pursuits to speak of, or I don't know how I'd be able to cope.
Do you have a hobby, Mark? How about you, Sue? Stamp collecting, perhaps? Needlecraft, possibly? How about Irish dancing? Astronomy? Bonsai cultivation? Dungeons & Dragons? Are you in a band? Do you stuff birds? Maybe you pin and mount butterflies?* What do you do, when you're not presiding over a failing train company, Mark? How do you while away the hours, when you're not communicating First Great Western's latest failings, Sue?
Do you "work out"? Do you zumba? Do you spin? (Although I have no idea what either of those things actually involve, Sue, I'll be honest - but I've heard the girls at work mention them in relation to the gym. Bear with me, okay?) Can you be found in the rosy-fingered mornings before work and the purple-hazed evenings after work red-faced and sweaty in your local leisure centre? Do you go down on bended knee and worship in the temple of the Body Beautiful?
Nah, thought not. Me neither. I've never spun in my life, Mark. I have never knowingly Zumbad, Sue. In fact, I've pretty much eschewed all gym-related activities altogether. You know why? Here's why. I've got a theory about gyms, you see. Do you want to hear my theory? You do? Sweet!
Here's my theory. It starts with a question, as all good theories do. And the question is this: what do you think is the most important piece of furniture in the gym, Mark? The one key thing that keeps people coming back, that keeps them interested, that cannot under any circumstances get broken or go missing?
It's the mirror, dudes! It's all about the mirrors. A gym without mirrors? Unthinkable! And all those people in the gym, Sue, staring at themselves, lusting after themselves, running greedy eyes over their own sculpted bodies, their toning torsos and lycra-sheathed limbs... hour after hour, running or jumping or lifting or pushing or pulling or spinning - all of them, all of the time, with eyes only for themselves. They're only there for the mirrors, really.
It's narcissism is what it is, Mark. Literally. It's a lot of people hopelessly desiring themselves to the point where they've lost touch with who they actually are. It's pornography of the self. Autonomoporn. Egoporn. It gives me the willies.
Also, most people in gyms tend to be bigger and tougher than me, and that puts me off as well. It's bad enough I've got a Mercury Prize-nominated gently melodic "rock group" looking to do me over: the last thing I need is a bunch of steroid-crazed muscle-bunnies getting the hump too.
So anyway, I don't go to the gym. I don't stamp collect or tango dance or paraglide. I don't birdwatch or flower-press or reconstruct civil war battles of a weekend. I have no hobby, Mark! I'm hobbyless, Sue! I work, and when I'm not working I'm spending less time than I'd like with my family... and the parts of my day when I'm not doing either I'm inevitably traveling between one and the other. On one of your tired old trains, Mark. Late. Meaning I have less time for both.
Can you try and help me out here, Sue? Is it too much to ask that you try and make the bits inbetween work-life and home-life as brief and efficient as possible, Mark? You know, given that that's what I'm giving you so much of my money to do? Given that I've got no time or energy or money left for anything else? Can you? Would you? Go on, just try it, eh? Just give it a go, there's a dear.
*See how I didn't mention train spotting as a potential hobby for you there, Mark! It would have been a cheap dig. I wouldn't want to insult you with cheap digs. You guys deserve a better class of dig altogether.