Dear Mark and Sue
Re: 08.06 FGW service from Oxford to Paddington, 23/8/11. Amount of my day wasted: 15 minutes.
Yo Mark! How do you do, Sue? What's happening today? There's a bright golden haze on the meadow! The corn is as high as an elephant's eye! Oh, Sue! What a beautiful morning! It almost makes me want to sing!
Actually, before I continue, I should confess. I'm not singing. I have no idea what the morning's like. I'm writing this on the train on Tuesday evening: I'm writing this the evening before I'm sending it to you. I'm writing this about this morning's train - or yesterday morning's train, by the time you receive it.
Does that make sense? I do hope so. Time can be such a tricky concept, can't it?
But two delays in two subsequent trips mean I have to keep at it in order not to fall behind. I wouldn't want my letters to you to get congested, would I? I wouldn't want to create knock-on problems for further letters. That wouldn't do at all! Letting one letter delay all subsequent further letters would be amateurish and shoddy of me. It would display poor planning and execution.
Discipline, Mark. Duty, Sue. We must apply ourselves with all the diligence we can muster. In calm waters, every ship has a good captain - Napoleon said that. It's when things get choppy that a captain's true worth is tested.
Ah, Napoleon, eh, Mark? Not as green as he was cabbage looking. And whatever else you want to say about the garlic-loving old saucisson, he knew a thing or two about captaincy. Though not, admittedly, of ships.
So, to the business in hand. Les affaires dans le hand, as Old Boney would have it. Monday night, as we know, was a bit of a debacle (or "debacle" in French). And so there I sat, on Tuesday morning (this morning as I write, yesterday morning as you read), tap-tap-tippity-tapping into my telephone, composing yesterday's missive, telling you all about it; there I sat, agonising over every semi-colon and sub-clause, worrying myself silly over each conjugated verb and compounded predication... when I suddenly noticed something. The train, Mark! The train wasn't moving!
Oh, Mark. Ahh, Sue. What are we to do? I thought we'd been through all this. I thought we were working towards resolving these issues?
What was the reason this time? What was the excuse? Congestion? Knock-on delays? A fault with a door? A malfunctioning flux capacitor? A rip in the fabric of the space-time continuum? Has your big end gone?
And - if we're being honest - does it actually matter what it was? Or what reason you give me? The bottom line's the same, after all. The bottom line - that I was forced to spend a pointless 15 minutes eyeing up the unfriendly areas around Slough - doesn't change, no matter what today's reason was. In the end is my beginning, innit.
But let's humour you. Tell me, mes petites Gauloises, what was the reason this time? (Or last time? I still haven't heard. Sue, you might wanna get on that.) And does it matter what you tell me what it was?
After all: it's all so much rhubarb, really, without action to make sure it doesn't happen again. Apologies are rhubarb, I mean. Aren't they, Mark?
What do you think, Sue? You're the Communications Director. You're the go-to gal for all things communication-related. Is an apology without action an essentially worthless gesture? Do words without deeds actually mean anything... or is it all just hot air? Is talk cheap, as Napoleon famously asked at the battle of Agincourt? (Or rather, le talk - est c'est n'est pas cher?)
It's a poser, isn't it?
I'll make it more simple. What I guess I'm asking is: heartfelt though your apologies are, and lovely as it is to receive so many of them... is that all they are? Words? Or are you backing them up with what I believe is called "affirmative action"? To wit: is anything actually being done?
Good lord! I may have actually asked a serious question!
PS - Oh, you know what else Napoleon did? He made the trains run on time. Oh yes he did! Well, not the actual trains. I know there were technically no actual trains back then, but, y'know, he made the trains run on time! Metaphorically. He made the horses and stuff run on time. The wagons. Les wagonnes. He made les wagonnes run on time! It's what he's most famous for, right?