Tuesday, 25 October 2011

24 October 2011. Letter 46

Dear Mark and Sue

Re: 08.06 FGW service from Oxford to Paddington, 24/10/11. Amount of my day wasted: nine minutes.

Hark, Mark! Ooh! Sue!

How, as the funny fat one from Friends used to say so hilariously, are you doin'? Are you good to go? Are you hot to trot? Are you champing (chomping, Sue? What do we think? Champing or chomping? Does one champ; or does one chomp? I'd welcome your input on this one) at the bit? Are you ready for the off?

You are? Good! Great! Super smashing fab! There's nothing like a positive attitude, Mark! There's nowt so uplifting as a can-do spirit! You guys should keep that up. You should make it compulsory. You should lead the entire team at the First Great Western Command Centre in daily motivational sing-songs. Let's get singing, Sue! Let's get singing glorious songs of positivity and optimism!

If we can't perform on the track, as it were, let's at least feel good about ourselves off the track! If we can't come up with the actual goods running-a-train-company-wise, let's at least keep smiling as if we could! If we can't walk the walk, let's talk the talk! Let's sing the songs! The important thing, Mark, is not how we perform: but how we're seen to perform, right?

Thought so.

Anyway. After Friday's epic 33-minuter and yesterday's corresponding seriously long letter, today is a day of relative relief for us both. My train to work yesterday was only nine minutes delayed, Mark! Well done! Give yourself a big pat on the back! And guess what? By only wasting nine minutes of my day, you can justifiably claim to have improved by around 366.7 per cent on Friday's performance! Nobody could argue with figures like that, Mark. Nobody. Except perhaps a madman. Or a pedant. Or a, you know, stickler. A mad, pedantic, stickler. And who cares what they think, eh? Silly sticklers.

So, we're agreed: by running the 08.06 service from Oxford to Paddington yesterday in such a brilliantly efficient way that it only arrived nine minutes after it was supposed to, you've effectively improved your service more than three-fold. Brilliant! That's the kind of thinking that gets you nominated for Train Operator of the Year, is that! That's the kind of operations that get you an 80-whatever-it-was per cent approval rating! Fantastic work! Outstanding!

Hang on!

Hold up!

Wait just one cotton-pickin' moment!

Major rethink in progress, Sue!

I may be wrong about that!

You've gone and tricked me again! Oh, you and your positive attitude, Mark! You and your confounded sunny outlook, Sue! Making me think that I should be grateful my train was ONLY delayed by nine minutes! Giving it the old glass-half-full thing! Clever, Sue! Fiendishly clever! Diabolically clever! Infernally clever! Devilishly clever! Ooh, you're good!

But the facts, as the funny fat one out of Friends never once said, are indisputable. The facts, in fact, remain - regardless of the rosiness of the tinted spectacles through which they are viewed. My train was nine minutes delayed.

The glass, Mark, may be half-full, or half-empty, but either way, the glass does not have the required amount of liquid in it. The glass is missing liquid. I paid for more liquid! Where's my liquid? We should not be grateful for a nine minute delay just because it's not a 33 minute delay! It's still nine minutes out of my life, Mark! You owe me more liquid!

Oh: and before I go, ponder this. I write these words on the Tuesday morning train. We're currently running, according to my clock, some 13 minutes behind schedule. Expect me to come chasing you for those minutes tomorrow, Mark! Start looking for liquid, Sue!

Au revoir!


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