'Agree With Everything - Deny Nothing - Embellish All

Thursday, October 06, 2005

The endless waltz of British Rail

The endless waltz of Virgin Rail
Carries both, me and the mail
Travel first or standard class
Standard will still cost some brass..

So. Last week I did my monthly tour.. Car to Leeds, then train to London, 2 nights in the city (country bumpkin looking up at buildings....chatting to taxi drivers..... Avoiding eye contact with the Big Issue woman at St James Park..) then the train back to Cumbria.

All went well until we reached Crewe. I travel First Class (company insists), though it breaks my heart to have to pay nearly 300 quid for the privilege of the return ticket to Penrith. You do however get a free newspaper (£1), free drinks (£5) and a free sandwich (£5?). That makes the journey worth circa 290 quid. I digress.
At Crewe the train stopped as promised BUT did not go any further. The Train Manager, who body doubled and sounded like Idi Amin but much better looking, announced that "for the benefit(?) of the customers this train set will not be going beyond Crewe today because of problems with the vipers" . Crackle.... um.. piercing whistle feedback....... enefit of customers (pop) the problem is the Wipers .. the windscreen wipers have developed a technical problem.....and a driver is coming..... please make your way to platform 11 where another train set will be arriving maybe in 20 minutes.... customers for Manchester Picaliddy .......Pick ... Aaa.... PickAARdly should go to platform 6. There was no rain to be seen by the way.
Look! I do believe that if you are working as a train (set) manager, in the transport business, then you should know the place names of the country you are working in. Yes, yes I know I would struggle with some of them Ugandan names but - I am not managing a train set in Uganda, am I?
Anyway, Idi went on to manage his way through Warrington Bonk Qgway, CarLiz- le, Offen Home the Lake District and a couple more goes at Picadilly. I happen to like the Pickarliddy and will be using that from now on. Offen Home is pretty good.
After 45 minutes of musical platforms.. make your way to platform 6............no 11........... No 2 etc... we were settled once more on our journey.
At Preston, Idi was rested and we got a small red haired Glaswegian as our Train Manager. He was, yes you've guessed, completely incomprehensible.
He made his way through the train apologising for the delay, and asked me if I was travelling first class on a first class ticket (my crumpled Rohan yoyager suit wasn't enough?!); then asked 2 guys opposite me the same question. They replied NO - as the seats in standard class were all taken. Jock said that this was OK BUT he would have to declassify their seats. Oh. The public humiliation of having the 'Embroidered First Class Anti-Macassar' unvelcroed from your seat must be worth a few bob in compensation from Mr Branson.
Those anti-macassars must be worth a fiver so that brings the journey cost down to £285. I wonder how they work out the rest of the price? I feel a letter coming on.
Dear Richard...


Blogger Fairground Hound said...

Rail travel can be quite frustrating. I've travelled on Virgin West Coast on countless occasions. This doesn't excuse your simmering hostility towards those who would do a job that wouldn't appeal to many of us. I'm quite sure your train manager was doing his best under difficult circumstances while you did your best to relax in first class, but you would do well to remember the privilege you enjoy and simply be thankful for it while the people who work their rocks off in shit jobs try their best to make your need for status feel like it's actually worth having. I don't mean to be excessivley hostile towards you, the fact that the bloke described it as a "train set" is quite funny, just give the guy a break - things won't change until train managers need a degree, which won't happen will it? (By the way I found your Blog while searching on "Cumbria")

6/10/05 6:13 pm  
Blogger Lex said...

And you thought YOU had problems with Vipers ... :-)

6/10/05 7:59 pm  
Blogger RenMan said...

Hey 'fairground hound person' .. I actually felt no hostility to Idi at all .. he did a great job. He was just the messenger. I'm also told that the correct name for an engine and carriages is 'train set' so he had more knowledge. I was quite relaxed and had just said to one of my travelling companions how much better the staff were now compared to a few years back. At least the staff engage with the passengers and smile. Oh... and your not the first person to mistake my attempts at ironic comment for simmering hostility. Have you read my Barrow In Furness blog? It's a bit backin the archive... AND my cousin David is a train manager and he lives in Walney. I think that qualifies me to be a bit hostile.

6/10/05 8:29 pm  
Blogger Nick said...

Don't they give you a complementary sachet of macassar oil in First Class? Otherwise there'd be no point in having an anti-macassar really . . .clearly Mr Branson's Brand Managers have slipped up on the details.

6/10/05 8:46 pm  
Blogger boudica of suburbia said...

Bloody Glaswegens, why don't they learn to speak english?


7/10/05 5:45 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


We had a hair product for men here in the colonies cicra 1950 that would do a grease job on a headrest. Ever hear of " Wildroot Cream-Oil ". A match of Macassar anyday and it made the comic books.
I'll send it to you under separate

8/10/05 1:03 am  
Blogger Nick said...

Phred - there's really no need for you to be so bashful, even when recommending hair-oil. (For the benefit of other readers - see this Sam Spade adventure . . .)

9/10/05 11:10 pm  
Blogger Nick said...

Boudica - technically, I think it's the bloody Geordies who can't speak English. Never had any problems with Glaswegians myself . .

9/10/05 11:11 pm  
Anonymous Janey said...

From North of the Border, I have to say that the station on which the majority of rail employees, of whatever ethnic origin, crash and burn is Leuchars Junction. Comes out as Lyookers if you're lucky. BTW, my bro swears he was once standing in a queue behind an Aussie who wanted to go to Loogabarooga which turned out to be Loughborough. Personally I would rather go to Loogabarooga. The beer is probably better

12/10/05 10:30 pm  
Blogger RenMan said...


17/11/05 12:34 am  

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