Dear Mark and Sue
Re: 19.22 FGW service from Paddington to Oxford, 9/9/11. Amount of my day wasted: seven minutes.
Mark! Sue! How do you do?
First things first. Congratulations on another fine week last week. Credit where credit is due - September has so far been the coolest month, breeding punctuality out of the dead timetables, mixing bad memories with fresh achievement, stirring dull routes with fresh trains. You managed delay-free journeys three days in a row, dudes! Well done! It's enough to inspire a man to poetry!
Only Monday and Friday let the side down, bookending the week with wasted time... but let's not be churlish. Compared to weeks past (especially those weeks where you left Sue in charge, Mark - my word, they really were a shambles!) you've really found your form. You've hit your stride. You've got your mojo rising!
Is this the turning point, Mark? Is this the moment everything changes? To wit - am I going to have to stop writing to you so often? (I would rejoice, of course, I would ring the (metaphorical) bells and blow the (figurative) whistles and dance a (literal) dance of joy... but I confess that a part of me would feel just a little bit sad. Why, if you ran an efficient train service, if you did the job I was paying you to do... then it would be the end of all this. Our little chats over, Mark. Our whispered confidences, Sue... no more.)
Or then again, perhaps not. Perhaps it ain't the end of us.
Perhaps it's just a blip. An anomaly. An oddity. Perhaps you've not really sorted out your company at all, Mark, and we've all just got lucky this last week or two. Perhaps - to use a metaphor that will no doubt resonate strongly with you, Sue - it's like that period you get in every game of football where the inferior side somehow gets a few chances, squeezes a couple of tasty shots off, snatches the odd dangerous set piece... and sometimes even robs an unlikely point from the game.
Perhaps you've not suddenly become Man United after all, Mark. Perhaps you're still Plymouth Argyle. Or, more accurately, perhaps you're Leicester - essentially a second-tier side who occasionally enjoys the odd inexplicable season in the Premiership.
Who knows? But it's going to be exciting finding out, isn't it? I'm excited about it already, Sue! I leap upon your carriages every morning and evening with a renewed sense of purpose right now! I squeeze myself into the "vestibules"* with high expectations, I hold my nose and grit my teeth against the stench of the dribbling sinks and uncleaned toilets with a near-fanatical belief that I'm going to experience a punctuality of service that I'd hitherto only ever dreamed about. As I shell out my 450-odd quid of hard-earned this month for the privilege of standing to-and-from London every day, I do so confident that even if the journey is still essentially unpleasant, at least it will only be so for as long as you've promised it would be.
Right, Mark? Or wrong? Which way is it going to go? Where's your money? On red, Mark, or black? Odds or evens? Heads or tails? Man United or Plymouth Argyle? Are you to step up to the plate and become the Great Western Railway company that old Isambard Kingdom created in his own image? Or will you slide back into the First Great Western train company that would have had the old feller stamping on his stovepipe in rage?
It's the only question that matters in my world right now, Mark. And the anticipation is...
the anticipation is...
the anticipation is...
(Sorry, cheap anticipation joke there. Couldn't resist it. Indulge me, Mark, I've been missing you.)
Anyway - I shan't bang on. Seven minutes was the delay, and so this letter must be wound up. The sky's beginning to bruise, Sue. Night must fall and we shall be forced to camp!
You managed to waste a bare 17 minutes of my time last week - let's see what this week brings. I can hardly wait!
*Vestibule. What is a vestibule, anyway, Sue? And do they exist anywhere else except on trains? Vestibule. Vestibule. Vest-i-bule. Ridiculous word.