Wednesday, 9 November 2011

7 November 2011. Letter 52

Dear Mark and Sue

Re: 08.06 FGW service from Oxford to Paddington, 7/11/11. Amount of my day wasted: 12 minutes.

Mark! Sue! What's movin'? What's groovin'? What's tootin'?

I feel it's been a while. It's been a while, dudes! What have you been up to? What's been going down in First Great Western town? Plenty, I hope. Lots and lots! It's good to keep busy, Mark. The devil makes work for idle hands, Sue. Don't stop movin', as inexplicably-monikered poptastic 90s septet S Club 7 urged, to the funky, funky beat.

(I once interviewed S Club 7, Sue. No, really! They were great! I loved them, as it happens. Fat Paul, especially. He was totally cool. He had a cool T-shirt. And don't even start me on my Rachel from S Club 7 anecdote! Suffice to say we connected, Sue. There was... chemistry. We spoke each other's unspoken language. Fluently. If things had been different, Sue, I reckon Rachel from S Club 7 could even have had a shot at becoming a former Mrs Utton. And now... well the poor girl's missed her chance. Anyway, I digress. I once interviewed S Club 7, Sue, and I asked them what the S stood for. Do you want to know what they said? They said it stands for whatever I want it to. Or nothing at all. It's just a letter, they said. There's a certain genius to that, Sue, don't you think? A certain magnificent arrogance to it. It's communicating well outside the rules of communication, is that! It's off-piste communicating!)

Anyway - enough pop nostalgia! We're not here to hear tales of how erstwhile chart puppets may or may not have hankered after a bit of extra interview time (although I could tell you a tale about Baby Spice if we were). We're here to talk about trains.

Trains, trains, trains. Trains, Mark! I can't stand the trains! At my window! Bringing back sweet memories! (Okay, that didn't really work, but I've been wanting to reference that song for about four months now. Indulge me, Mark.) Trains, trains, trains. Here come the trains again! Falling on my head like a memory! Falling on my head like a new emotion... alright. Point taken. No more rain/train songs.

(It's a trainy night in Paddington! Seems like it's training all over the world!)

My train on Monday morning was slooooow, Sue! It was slow like treacle. It was so slow and dull and time-wastingly tedious, that it's taken me until Wednesday to even summon up the enthusiasm to tell you how slow and tedious it was.

Does that make me remiss, Mark? Does it make me look sloppy, Sue? Perhaps so. Maybe it does. I'm sorry. Will you forgive me? Will you let me make it up to you? Will you let me share with you a few of the things I've learned, while failing to be bothered to write to you this week?

You will? Oh goody! Let's drink from the fount of knowledge, Sue! Better than that - let's skinny dip in the fount of knowledge! Let's shed our inhibitions, let's slough off our slacks and plunge headfirst into the fount of knowledge! Let's do it!




Let me think.

I can't think of anything, Mark! I'm stumped, Sue! The truth of the matter is, I'm feeling a little too delicate today to dredge up what new knowledge I've gleaned* and share it with the group. I went out last night, you see. I went deep into the throbbing heart of London's fashionable Central London, I attended a deeply fashionable party there, I wore a black tie (you should have seen me, Sue!) and I indulged myself fully of all the many and bountiful bounties that were laid out before me. And as a result, today I'm feeling a little... delicate. Washed out. Hung up to dry and ironed flat. I'm living proof of the old Sardinian maxim: "Una notte come un leone, cinque giorni come i coglioni".

It's a bit rude in the literal translation, Sue, and I wouldn't wish to make a lady blush (at least - not accidentally) so suffice to say it roughly declares that if you live one night as a lion, you will spend five days as, ahem, something rather less savoury. But because it's in Italian, despite being a bit filthy, it nevertheless sounds beautiful, no?

Of course it does! Hey! Guess what! That reminds me of something I did learn this week! Something involving trains! Result!

So you know how when you go to Italy, Mark, it seems that every tiny village and one-donkey-hamlet boasts a magnificent train station? Something grand in the classical style? Something eminently worthy of an Empire? Well that, my history-loving chums, is because old Benito Mussolini (a rather unsavoury character in charge of the country back in the middle of the last century, Sue - came to an unpleasant lamppost-related end, best not to delve too deep into the whys and wherefores) was obsessed with trains. He lived and breathed trains! He believed that the mark of a powerful nation was a top-level train service. He wanted every citizen to have access to a first-rate train station, from which they could catch a first-rate train. That, he believed, was the key to a successful Empire.

He literally made the trains run on time, Mark! Can you imagine that? Can you actually imagine such a thing?

I know! Me neither! No wonder they hanged him in the end.

Au revoir!


*Is that a mixed metaphor, Sue? Can one dredge and glean? Can one glean anything from a dredge? What does glean mean, anyway? And what kind of person dredges for anything, anyway? Has anything pleasant ever been found through dredgery? Do feel free to write back and let me know, Sue. I'd love to hear from you again!

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