Anyone else notice how a train journey in or out of a city such as London, is a view of the “back” of the city?
The view from the windows is almost always of the “back” of things. Backs of houses, back gardens, faceless backs of warehouses, shops, offices, interspersed with car parks, yards and allotments, with glimpses of the “front” peeking through the gaps.
I’m just heading up North on a Virgin Train (thought I’d better try one while I still can).
I ended up going 1st Class because it was cheaper than Standard, when booking in advance. Not that uncommon actually, and sometimes it’s even worth doing if it’s a couple of quid more expensive, because of the inclusives: light refreshments such as tea and coffee, and wifi access at no extra charge. Basically, you can sometimes get good value for money, and Virgin (and other train companies) get to put bums on 1st class seats which would otherwise go empty off-peak, and it reduces the pressure on the cheap seats.
In common with most train operators, the weekend 1st Class at-seat service is a shadow of it’s midweek counterpart: limited to tea, coffee, water and snacks. This used to be things such as (normal-sized packets of) crisps, nibbles, and biscuits.
Today, this has been replaced with “A little box of snacks” – about 2×3″. Now, it looks cute. There’s no doubt about that. There’s a childlike feeling about opening one for the first time.
But the contents are distinctly underwhelming:
- The smallest bag of pretzels I’ve probably ever seen (and if you don’t like “sour cream and chive”, you’ll be left feeling a bit sour)
- A micro-flapjack that would leave a hobbit’s tum rumbling
- A pack of cream crackers and soft cheese
- A continental “speculoos” biscuit for with coffee
- A bit of Valrhona chocolate (yum)
I had the pretzels and the chocolate, as I didn’t really fancy the rest of the contents. The rest will no doubt go in the bin.
While I’m in no doubt that it makes inventory control much simpler (and may well be cheaper), it is effectively a reduction in choice for the passenger, and surely increases waste in an era when a huge part of companies’ social responsibility is dedicated to reducing their environmental impact?
They say life imitates art, and one area I think this is true is in the growing number of speakers blasting out banal “information” tannoys. If you think of any fiction set in the future with some controlling regime (1984, Brave New World, Blakes 7), there are droning announcements blighting the lives of the citizens as they try to go about their daily business.
Anyone who uses public transport in the UK should be able to relate to this – the never-ending torrent of automated announcements that seem to bury useful information (like which station is next) in a stream of verbose drivel (to mind the gap, take our stuff with us, and remember to breathe).
Is “tannoy” really a portmanteau of “to annoy”?
Continue reading “Torrential Tannoys – can’t we just have a quiet life?”