Monday, 31 October 2011

28 October 2011. Letter 49

Dear Mark and Sue

Re: 19.21 FGW service from Paddington to Paddington, 28/10/11. Amount of my day wasted: 12 minutes.

Hey Mark and Sue! Don't make it bad! Take your slow trains... and make them better! Remember to let them into your - actually, I'll stop that there. Not sure it's really working, is it?

So! What's what? How's tricks? How's treats? (See what I did there, Sue! It's Halloween! Tricks! Treats! Now that's some pretty flashy communicating, eh? Keeping it topical-style. Call me a fully-paid up member of Club Topicala!) Have you all been dressing up and carving your pumpkins? Have you been telling spooky stories and giving each other the willies? Are things going bump in the night? Are you worried about your ghoulies?

Me too, dudes! My ghoulies have been giving me no end of jip. It's a scary business, is Halloween! And even if you can avoid the feral gangs of youths demanding chocolate with menaces at your doorstep come sundown; assuming you can dodge the drunken office parties, the saucy she-devils and "hilarious" Human Resources managers dressed as extras from Thriller wanting to pinch your bottom and become your best pal; then there's always the danger of possession by the unquiet souls and vengeful legions of the walking undead! Really, Mark, Halloween can be a very stressful time all round.

I tell you: if it wasn't for all the free sweets I "confiscate" from my children, I'd ban the whole bothersome pagan business altogether.

But enough about me! I always talk about me! Let's talk about you!

What have you been up to, Sue? What's new and fresh and exciting in the world of corporate communications? Any cutting-edge communicating techniques I need to know about? Any fast-breaking communications mode d'emploi (as our garlic-breathing cousines across La Manche like to put it) I should be researching? What's the latest word on the latest words? How are they communicating on the front line these days? How, Sue, will we communicate in the future? As Director of Communications for the Train Operator of the Year (votes cast relating to the year 2009), share with me the next generation of communicating technology! I am thirsty for communicating knowledge, Sue! I am, literally (not literally literally, but, y'know, literally) an empty vessel, waiting to be filled with facts from the communications encyclopedia. The communopedia, as it's probably never referred to, but should be.

Seriously, Sue! I want to learn! I can't wait to learn! Let's get down to Communications town!

And you, Mark? What's the word from the Managing Director's office? What have you been watching on TV? Should Frankie Cococcooccoccozzazzzazzaaaa still be in the X Factor? Did Nancy Dell'Olliollioilliolliolio deserve to be ejected from Strictly? Can you believe Big Brother is still even on? And do you realise that I'm A Celebrity is starting again in a few weeks?

Truly, Mark, this is a golden age for television: der Goldenes Zeitalter, as our sausage-sucking cousins on the banks of the Rhine would say! A near-mythical epoch for the gogglebox! And on top of it all, there's Young Apprentice!

Ah, Young Apprentice! Do you watch Young Apprentice, Mark? Those crazy kids playing at being grown-ups! The boys in their Dads' suits, the girls with their quaint concepts of equality in the workplace! (Haven't they heard of the glass ceiling, Mark? It's there for a reason, for goodness sake! And at least, being glass, they can still see through it, right?)

I love Young Apprentice! And you know what I love the most about it? I love the fact that these kids still touchingly believe that the men at the top, the ones running stuff (the ones on the right side of the glass ceiling), actually know what they're doing! I love that those kids all seem to hold on to the idea that the bigger the suit and shinier the tiepin, the more competent the man. Bless 'em!

It's like still believing in Santa Claus, isn't it Mark? It's like still believing in ghoulies and ghosties! It's something we all start off convinced is true - only to discover later is in fact a myth, a story, something our parents made up to convince us that the world isn't the endless awful procession of tedium and drudgery and blown chances and fractured dreams that it probably in fact is.

Do you remember how old you were when you realised that most people actually have no idea what they're doing, Mark? Do you remember the moment when you discovered that just about everyone in any position of responsibility is basically just muddling through, half blagging it and half terrified of being found out (and I suspect the only reason more of us aren't found out is because the people who really should be finding us out are just as incompetent and terrified as we are)?

Of course, it may be different in the old train business, Mark. In fact: I'm sure it's different. I'm sure all of you who rise to the top at First Great Western do so because you're the best of the best, the cream of the crop, a rare and beautiful combination of imagination and innovation and intelligence. Good. Great! Well done for bucking the trend!

But here's the thing. I was 12 minutes late home on Friday. That was entirely down to the incompetence of your company. Not the drivers, or the guards, or the man who punches my ticket. Someone at the top, Mark! Somebody ain't showing that rare and beautiful shizzle I was just talking about! Could it be, Mark, Sue, that the kids from the Young Apprentice are going to have to add First Great Western to their list of disappointment and shattered illusions?

Say it ain't so! Say you can begin to make it better! (Better, better, better! Na, na na na-na-na-naaa! I knew I'd make Hey Jude work in the end!)

Au revoir!


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