Monday, 16 January 2012

16 January 2012. Letter 76

Dear Mark and Sue

Re: 08.06 FGW service from Oxford to Paddington, 16/1/12. Amount of my day wasted: six minutes.

Mark! Good morning! It’s Blue Monday, Mark, the most depressing day of the year! How do you feel? How does it feel, to treat me like you do? When you’ve laid your hands upon your keyboard, and told me how late your trains are? I thought I was mistaken, Mark! I thought I heard your words! Tell me: how do I feel? Tell me now. How do I feel?

Oh, indulge me, Mark! It’s the beginning of the week, it’s the most depressing day of the year, my train is late again… indulge me if I attempt to shoehorn a New Order lyric or two into our correspondence. To be perfectly frank with you, Mark (and you, Sue: I shall be both perfect and frank, where you’re concerned. Never anything less than perfect, and never anything other than frank! If not actually Frank, as it were), it’s amazing I haven’t misquoted a lot more of New Order before now. They are officially the third best band out of Manchester ever, after all. (And therefore the sixth best band of all time out of anywhere.)

In fact… expect more New Order, Mark! If your trains continue to underperform so woefully, Sue, then expect plenty of New Order peppered throughout our further correspondence. As “Colonel” Tom Parker* so famously said: you can never have enough New Order, son. When in doubt, spin a bit of Lowlife and all will be cool.

But, as ever, I digress! I didn’t sit down to write to you today about New Order, Mark! I sat down to write to you today because one of your trains was delayed again. Specifically: the train I happened to be sitting on this morning.

At Didcot Parkway, Sue, in the freezing mist of a translucent dawn, we sat and watched the smoke billow around the cooling towers and we wondered just when our train would take off again. On Blue Monday, Mark, as the mercury struggled to reach zero and the guards on the platform stamped their feet and the crows flapped over the dead ground, we sat on the platform and waited.

What was it today, Mark? Was the train feeling a bit blue, too? Could it not summon up the enthusiasm today, Sue? Was it just not in the mood?

Poor train! Poor little engine!

Perhaps I’ve been harsh, Mark. Perhaps I’ve been hasty, Sue (not an accusation you’ll often hear leveled in these letters – hastiness). Am I being unfair? Should I cut your brave little locomotives some slack? Should I try to be a little more understanding? Should I understand that sometimes the little engines that could, simply can’t be bothered?

Let me think. Let me think long and hard. In the first month since my ticket went up by six per cent, in a month that has already seen me delayed five times in two weeks… should I be more understanding?

I think we already know the answer to that one, Mark. The answer is no. Why on earth should I? Make the trains run on time, Mark! Stop giving me Stockholm Syndrome! Stop making my Mondays blue!

Au revoir!


*Pop fact for you, Sue: Colonel Tom Parker wasn’t a Colonel at all. The man who masterminded Elvis Presley’s career was as much of a Colonel as I am. Or, in fact, as “Colonel” Sanders, purveyor of many a fine fried chicken breast, was. Although having said that, I’m not so sure about Colonel Sanders. Perhaps that’s something you could look into, Sue? Get your Communications Squad on it. Find out the truth: was Colonel Sanders a Colonel or not? Did his secret blend of herbs and spices include fictitious military honours? I look forward to hearing all about it, Sue!

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