Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Les evenements

I am sick of the bloody Olympics and they've hardly started. It's almost claustrophobic in this incipiently-Fascist Outer London Borough.

Apparently the flame was trooped here Monday. I went north for that very reason but someone yesterday was saying how wonderful it was to be in such large crowds all with the same desire.

Apparently they were “all down both sides of the Carshalton Road, waiting”.

Das einige Volk.

And atop all the usual broadcasts on the transport system there are blatherings from Boris Johnson: “This is the Mayor; this is the Big One.”

Well, if he wants to be called The Big One then he has to do it himself I suppose. He urges us to plan our journey. How? Why?

I am almost in admiration of Southern Rail in that the blithering idiots have made no visible attempt to avoid their usual crap. Signal failures, broken trains, crap announcements, some of which you couldn't hear for Boris. They have what sounds like a child making announcements now. He stumbles from word to word like a fly trying to get off a fly paper and little apparent awareness of syntax. As what he is reading takes on semblances of meaning for him, he seems to express surprise “and on Saturday that service will not run?!”
The way they make announcements even English First Language can't understand much of it.

And on the radio I hear of trains not stopping at the Central Sacred Destination. How CAN one plan in such circumstances?

My favourite announcement yesterday was delivered confidently and with disjunctive panache: “Attention passengers waiting for the train --” and nothing more, ever.

Finding myself unconstrained for a few hours and with a decent camera in my bag, I nearly went into central London to take a series of photographs I want; but I thought better of it because of the likely chaos. By then I was on my way and so, inadvertently, saw quite a bit of South London. The buffoons have been busy. Wherever there is an island platform one side of which does not normally serve passengers, they have built strong metal fences worthy of a national frontier.


It reminds me of an observation made many years ago: that this country would be fine if the Normans were not still in control. And so we have dungheads who are for instance Managers of Customer Satisfaction with Outsourced Sandwiches purely as a reward for brown-nosing with William the bastardly Director of Train Chaos and volunteering some serfs to lie down as emergency rail sleepers. In post, they build their motte and bailey offices out of proforma waste, terrorise the booking hall staffs of small stations and then turn their attention to defending themselves against insurrection from the populace.

And we get massive fences running down the middle of platforms which achieve nothing but do reduce flexibility. The signals fail. The trains break down. But we get fences to keep us penned like livestock.

And yet as I say I quite admire them. The Lords are blustering about low turnouts on strike votes though not one of them has been voted there. But Southern don't give a damn. They just don't bother. They don't even attempt to justify themselves. And they find themselves admirable. They've found that try as they may they cannot work out how to run a decent service. They've simplified the system – it's quite a burden to get to London Bridge from here. They've given up announcements. They've stopped politeness. They've ripped up the sidings; so it's just several As to several Bs; and the morons still can't do it.

But it doesn't worry them. Mentally they're still out on the neolithic hillsides at the mercy of forces they do not understand – signal failure, train failure, inclement weather. Some of them clearly think that blowing a whistle makes the locomotive start. Nothing to be done.

They are people of faith and they may not be criticised.

Meanwhile Baron Big One, having lauded himself for the new Cross Rail development has gone very quiet over the move to end the loop to Sutton of the Brighton-Luton line to pay for it.

The full trains into Blackfriars will be emptied on to other trains already themselves over full.

I gave up last night. A large chunk of Southern seemed to have ceased to be. Questions to the believers about the movements of the spirits of the trains brought such an intense hiss of “I don't know” that I feared being charged with blasphemy.

I looked for a bus. I thought I saw mine; but it had no sign on it. As I tried to board, it drove off with the door still open – supposedly impossible, alarm howling – with no words from the pig's arse driver and parked. Welcome to UK

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