Thursday, 1 September 2011

1 September 2011. Letter 24

Dear Mark and Sue

Re: 08.06 FGW service from Oxford to Paddington, 1/9/11. Amount of my day wasted: 10 minutes. Minus one minute for unexpected early arrival on Tuesday night. Call it an even nine minutes, eh?

Mark! You're baaaaack! (I've written that in my best X Factor presenter voice.) And guess what? The trains have only started running on time! For a week, Mark! A whole week. (A week that included a Bank Holiday, to be fair, but still.) You've come back, you've taken charge, you've knocked some heads together, burnt the dead wood, taken names, kicked ass and only gone and made the trains run on time!

Have your trains ever gone a week without delay, Mark? Have you ever known seven days of smooth service? Or have we entered uncharted territory? Are we boldly going where no one* has gone before?

Who cares? Let's bask in the glory of it! Let's give ourselves a hearty pat on the back.

I've only got one word for you, Mark: congratulations. And thankyou. Two words. Congratulations, thankyou and well done. Four little words. One that should possibly have been hyphenated. I've only got four words (one possibly hyphenated) for you, Mark. (Does "and" count? Call it five (one possibly hyphenated) in that case.) Congratulations, thankyou and jolly well done. (Six words. One possibly hyphenated.)

But it seems that nothing, as Echo and the Bunnymen so poignantly posited, ever lasts for ever. Dreams do end. The sun, I am sad to report, also sets. We had a good run, Mark, it was beautiful while it lasted... but this morning normal service was resumed. Around the avenues and alleyways of Hayes and Harlington, we stumbled, stuttered and shuddered to a stop.

We staggered into London Paddington 10 minutes late. Summer's lease, Mark, had all too short a date. And at a stroke all that good work came undone. It was like you'd never been away. Or rather, it was like you were still away.

What can we say, Mark? What can we do, Sue?

But I'm being rude. I'm getting ahead of myself. Do excuse me! How was your holiday? How were the discotheques of Playas de las Americas and the meatmarkets of Malia and Torremolinos? How fared the fleshpots of Prague and Amsterdam? What news of the muscled Methuselahs of Miami Beach? Did you take some time to celebrate? Just one day out of life? Was it, as Madonna, claimed, so nice?

Good! I'm glad! I'm pleased for you Mark! Lord knows you needed the break. And what a time to go! While you were away... all sorts happened! There was a rumpus in Libya! A hurricane in New York! Some awful unpleasantness in branches of Lewisham Foot Locker and Croydon Comet!

While you've been jetskiing through the Great Barrier Reef, there has been news, Mark. News! And most of it bad. Most of it seeming to point to the incontrovertible truth that the world is literally going to hell in a literal handcart.

There was even talk of First Great Western putting their prices up by eight per cent! Amidst riots and revolutions, hurricanes and earthquakes, fires and stonings and flood, that was the headline that really caught my eye.

What cobblers, I thought! Mark wouldn't do that! (Sue seems to be sticking to the party line, but we needn't worry too much about that. She's only communicating. Don't shoot the messenger girl!) Mark's a man of honour and integrity, I thought. The idea of such a scandalous rise in fares would go against every moral fibre in his body. When he gets back from hiking the Inca Trail, I thought, he'll surely knock all this nonsense on the head.

Tell me I'm right, Mark! You've shown you can make the trains run on time for a whole week (more than the Emperor Charlemagne even managed!) - now show you can see this through to the end! You gotta make it happen!

Au revoir!


*You'll notice that's "where no one has gone before", Sue, not "no man". They changed it for Star Trek: The Next Generation - presumably because, you know, space-faring chicks are people too. Lieutenant Uhura, for one. And I'm all for that, Sue! I for one welcome the brave efforts of our lady astronauts! Especially the pretty ones. Bless 'em!

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