Wednesday, 1 February 2012

31 January 2012. Letter 80

Dear Mark and Sue

Re: 08.06 FGW service from Oxford to Paddington 31/1/12. Amount of my day wasted: six minutes.

Marky Mark! Siouxsie Sue! Marky Mark and the Get Fresh Crew!

Is that what you call yourselves, Mark, in the First Great Western hood, when you’re hanging with the First Great Western homeboys, when you’re with the First Great Western kids on the First Great Western block? Marky Mark and the Get Fresh Crew? No? Well you should. Somebody should, at least. I’m surprised nobody’s thought of it yet.

So! Anyway! It’s another day, another delay, another reason for us to renew our vows to each other. Your inexplicable vow to ensure that I’m not getting anything like value for money from my train ticket; my rather petulant and Pyrrhic vow to waste as much of your time as you’re wasting of mine. A marriage made in heaven, Sue! Or if not heaven, a marriage made somewhere between Reading and Slough. And whoever thought that would be possible? Out of those dead lands flowers grow!

Today, you will doubtless be relieved to hear, I’m writing a shorter letter. Yesterday, my train to work was only delayed by six minutes. Well done, Mark! That’s nearly on time! That’s you coming pretty close to doing what you’re supposed to be doing! Alright! High fives!

One thing, however. My train yesterday, my delayed train in the morning, the train that came pretty nearly close to running as you promised me it would (but not quite) – why was it only three carriages? It’s supposed to be eight carriages, Mark! And, as we have already learned, eight into three doesn’t go. You can’t put eight carriage loads of people into just three train carriages. And if you do, if you try, then those people have to squeeze up and suck in breath and jostle together and force themselves into awkward contortions by the luggage racks and generally achieve a level of intimacy with their fellow commuters that I’m sure as properly and inherently repressed English citizens nobody’s really comfortable with.

It’s not pretty, Mark. And it’s certainly not value for money. Four hundred and eighty quid a month to stand, squeezed and squeezing, squashed and squashing, all the way to London – and still arrive six minutes late? That’s not value for money!

Though, to be fair, there was one upside. At least all that bodily contact, all that unwanted and unwelcome forced intimacy, kept us warm. There was that. Because the train didn’t appear to have any heating, Mark: or if it did then the heating was turned off. And it is cold outside, isn’t it? It’s cold outside and it’s cold inside!

My favourite badger-themed weather website (don’t tell me you don’t believe there is such a thing, Mark. Look it up! Google it, Sue – if you can spare a moment from all that communicating, if you can find a few seconds out of your day to just stop communicating for once – type in “weather” and “badger” and see what happens. I’m not joking. If I’m lyin’, I’m flyin’!) – my favourite badger-themed weather website tells me that it’s going to stay cold a little while longer yet too. It tells me that the cold snap is set to continue. It has little graphs and charts and stuff. It’s way cool. (Pun totally intended. Pun always intended.)

Do you enjoy looking at those kinds of websites, Mark? Weather websites, I mean. I do! I loves ‘em! Me and weather – I’m sort of obsessed with it. All that measuring, Mark! All those numbers to compare! I can’t get enough!

What about you, Sue? No? I thought not. Weather – it’s a boy thing, right? It doesn’t take a psychologist to work out why, either. I’m no huge Old Dr Freud (and I’m certainly not getting any Jung-er! Sorry. Memo to self: no more psychology jokes) – I’m no huge Emma Freud, but I reckon it’s easy to see why boys are obsessed with weather, with all its measurements and comparisons and insistence on the vital difference an inch or two here or there can make… and girls just aren’t. (Apart from Georgie Palmer, obviously, who used to do the weather on Oxford Tonight. Whatever happened to Georgie Palmer? I miss Georgie Palmer!)

That may even be the same reason I’m obsessed with all these minutes you keep taking from me, Mark, and the same reason you at least take the time to write back and apologise (when you’re not watching Don’t Tell The Bride)… whereas Sue, who as we all know, is in fact a lady, just doesn’t seem that bothered.

Do you think that’s it, Mark? Do you subscribe to Matthew Freud’s theories of weather-and-train-related psychology? Is it all really about us chaps boasting about the lengths of our delays? I’d sure like to know!

Au revoir!


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