Dear Mark and Sue
Re: 08.06 FGW service from Oxford to Paddington, 30/11/11. Amount of my day wasted: seven minutes.
Mark! Sue! There you are!
How goes it? What news of the world? What word from the four winds? What tales do the morning birds sing of today? What fresh wisdom is to be found in the bright dewy dawn?
Anything about trains in there? Anything at all? No? Well then we must find our own train news, Mark! You make the train news, I’ll report it! Sue will supervise the stealth communication of it! It’s what we do, dudes! It’s what we are!
I’m still feeling rather folky, Mark! I’ve still got those metaphorical bells on my toes and that figurative peacock feather in my allegorical hat! It’s still winter, you see (stay tuned for more breaking winter news!). Rough winds do shake the darling trains of December, Mark, as the new X Factor charity single has it. And summer’s lease hath all too short a date! (He’s not so bad, that Simon Cowell, is he Sue? He can write a lyric, to be fair. He knows his way around an iambic pentameter.)
I’m not ready to abandon my newfound seasonal flirtation with folk music yet, Mark! Me and folk music, Sue – we’re having a full-on Christmas fling! We’re snogging under the mistletoe! We’re making a proper spectacle of ourselves at the office party. We’ll regret it in the spring… but for the moment it feels too good to stop!
Anyway. Even if the birds and the badgers and the dew and the dawn do not wish to talk of the trains, we’re essentially here for no other reason but to talk of the trains. It’s our raison d’etre. Do I write to you when my trains are on time, Mark? Do we idly chat on matters other than those relating to your employer’s incompetence, Sue? Do we text? Do we instant message? Do we BBM? No we do not! (I’m not even sure I know what BBMing is. And I’m a bit scared of Googling it. It sounds somehow… rude. Don’t you think? “Shall we… BBM? Would you like to… BBM? Have you ever tried… BBM?” No sir I have not! And I would not! And we shall not!)
We’re here, once again, as sure as winter follows spring, as sure as Advent follows Christmas, to talk about trains. I’m here to complain about the train I got yesterday! And you’re here, Mark, to listen to my concerns. You’re here to gain valuable feedback from those who pay to keep you doing what you do!
My train yesterday morning was delayed, Mark! Sue! Dude! It was delayed by seven minutes! Again! Oh my days! That’s every morning this week, lads! I haven’t arrived at work on time all week. My editor, Mark – she’s threatening me with sanctions! “That’s three times on the run,” she said to me yesterday. “If you’re late again the supervisor said we’re going to put you on daily signing!”*
I don’t want to go on daily signing, Mark! I’m not even sure what daily signing is, Sue!
Three delays in three days – that’s what you’ve taken from me so far this week. Thirty minutes plus seven minutes plus another seven minutes. Forty-four minutes this week alone – and it’s still only Wednesday morning!
Oh! That reminds me! I left you on a cliffhanger! We were on the edges of our seats (those of us lucky and aggressive enough to get seats of course. Otherwise we were on the edges of our, um, toes? Standing in the vestibules, trying not to breathe in the terrible smell from the inevitably overflowing toilets). We were going to find out the bottom line in Tim from Twitter’s magnificent spreadsheet of magnificence!
We were going to find out exactly just how much of my time you have wasted in delays to your trains since the end of June! Tim totted it all up for us!
I love a cliffhanger! Don’t you Mark! Maybe I should introduce a cliffhanger into every letter I write to you and Sue? Would you like that? Would it keep you coming back for more? Would it make me a bit more like Dickens? A bit more like Dostoevsky? That would be cool! I’d be all for that!
So then. What’s the grand total? Here’s a clue: it’s more than 10 hours, Mark. It’s more than two hours a month. It’s more than half an hour a week. Every week. Every single week since June. It’s more than that, Mark. You’ve delayed me for longer than that.
It’s… oh! What’s this? I’ve run out of time? Looks like it’s another cliffhanger!
*She didn’t really say that, Mark. This is not Liverpool in 1984! We are not in Frankie Goes To Hollywood! She was not introducing the start of a magnificently thrilling, super-sneery, adrenalized, zeitgeist-capturing-all-over-again cover of Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run!
But major tip of the old titfer if you got the reference, Mark! Sue did, I bet. Did you get it, Sue? Did you recognise the intro to the album version of Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s cover of Born to Run? Do you still have your FRANKIE SAY ARM THE UNEMPLOYED t-shirt in the back of a drawer at home? Can you still not hear a siren without thinking: WHEN YOU HEAR THE AIR ATTACK WARNING YOU AND YOUR FAMILY MUST TAKE COVER…?
Me too, Sue! That’s something else we have in common! Rubbish trains and iconoclastic 80s pop! Frankie Goes To Hollywood! What a band, Sue!