East Coast Mainline / by Rob Petit


Sitting on the Eastcoast Mainline with the following blaring out of the loudspeaker on repeat. My annotations beneath.

The announcement: "Good morning this is your customer service manager (1) Motash (2). I'd like to welcome you to the zero-eight hundred (3) East Coast mainline service from Kings Cross (4) to Edinburgh. The service is calling at Darlington, York, Newcastle and Edinburgh, due to arrive in Edinburgh at 12.51 (5). There will shortly be a full ticket inspection, please assist me by having your tickets, seat reservations AND railcards ready. Please also ensure all baggage is stowed away safely and securely (6), and is not causing obstruction to the aisles (7). For your safety and security, CCTV is in operation throughout the train (8). There will also be a full refreshment service (9) on board today. My colleague Farla (10), the catering crew leader, (11) will shortly make an announcement (12). In the meantime please relax (13) and be sure to contact me with any questions, comments or concerns (14). The next station-stop (15) is Darlington." 

My analysis: l1 Ridiculous job title. l 2 Ridiculous name. l 3 We're not in the army. l 4 The common urge felt by ‘The Many’ to express the abundantly obvious. We're at King's Cross now, if you didn't realise that, then you’ve got a long day ahead. l 5 I'll be impressed if it does but no harm in trying I suppose. l 6 Hard pressed to see the difference between 'safely and securely', or rather it's pretty hard to be one not the other (Me: "Excuse me Motash, I've secured my bag safely but not securely, can you help please?" Motash: "Why my dear man that's impossible!" Me: "My point exactly") l 7 (Aisles plural) there's technically only one aisle, it's a train, granted it's a long aisle but there is only one. Though maybe I'm being pedantic here. l 8 Difficult not to make the obvious Orwellian comparisons because the terrifying thing is that this phrase is drummed into us through sledgehammer repetition to the point where it becomes almost impossible to say 'CCTV' without triggering the auto-response follow up phrase 'it's for my safety and security don't you know?'. It's not though, it's not. l 9 It's a canteen, call it a canteen. l 10 Ridiculous name. l 11 Ridiculous job title. l 12 Please don't. l 13 How can I relax with this incessant babble? l 14 I think it's best, for the both of us that we don't meet. l 15 When did stations become 'station-stops'? I reckon you can trace the beginning of the end to that very point in time.