Taking Stock - August 22, 2011

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SPREAD the word – the grumpy revolution is here.

And best of all, it’s starting on the mardy bum’s favourite form of transport – the railways.

But, being pedants we’re not up in arms about questionable timekeeping or overcrowding. Oh no, the grumpies have launched their assault on announcements.

I’m not talking about the useful announcements, the one’s which tell you where the train is going, or that your station is coming up, or, more importantly, that the buffet car is now serving booze.

No, this is a war on those pointless messages, most of them recorded, which these days provided the soundtrack for many journeys.

“Please keep your luggage and personal belongings with you at all times.”

“Large items should be placed on the luggage racks at each end of the carriage.”

Which do you want me to do?

One approach guarantees nobody will sit on the seat next to me, and that my bags will still be on the train when I reach wherever I’m going.

But it is more than a tad anti-social, not to mention a pain in the posterior when the time comes to get off.

“Report any suspicious behaviour to a member of your train crew.”

Very sound advice, if not a little obvious. Unfortunately it’s hard to pin down precisely what constitutes suspicious never mind find anyone to tell.

There’s no need for it, particularly if you’ve decided to sit in the quiet coach where mobile phones and stereos are banned, but the constant stream of recorded rubbish continues unabated.

Perhaps that’s why one Transport Minister has asked train companies to re-think their onboard announcements and tune out the running commentary.

Why stop there? Why not turn off the automated voice all together. There’s no substitute for a real person to tell you what you need to know – particularly when the computer voice keeps on getting things wrong.

For years, thanks to a mispronunciation, trains heading into Blackpool called at Kirkham and “Wisham”

Eventually the train company gave up and drafted in the guard ( I refuse to acknowledge the existence of customer service managers, or senior conductors) to make the announcement properly.

And why stop on the trains? How about the ever increasing number of road signs, or health warnings on products we know are bad for us but eat anyway. If we can beat the onboard announcements, anything is possible.

Yes, the grumpy revolution is here – a time for the bad tempered and intolerant to get their way, all in the name of a quiet life. Just don’t go shouting about it – let’s keep the announcements to a bare minimum