Monday, 13 October 2008

Too Easy

It's just after nine in the morning and I'm sitting on a packed Virgin train waiting to leave Birmingham New Street. The train is heading for London but I'm going only as far as Coventry where I'm due to collect a lorry bound for Andover.

An announcement comes over the tannoy for the attention of whichever passenger has 'decided to put a bicycle on the train.' They are requested to remove it on the grounds that it would cause a safety risk in the event of an evacuation, and informed that we are 'going nowhere' until they do.

Ten long minutes later we finally crawl away from the station. The delay has led to us being behind a stopping train, meaning that we are soon a further ten minutes behind schedule.

Another announcement apologises for the delay, telling us again, with barely concealed irritation, about the problem of the forbidden bike.

This is my fourth delayed train in two days. The first three were the result of vaguely explained problems involving preceding services and congested stations. This is the first time I have been offered a scapegoat and a tacit incitement to hate them as much as I like.

It's tempting to imagine further particulars about this unseen troublemaker - probably some self-righteous fitness junkie clad in sweaty lycra who, rather than simply removing their bike when requested, decided to instigate a ten minute pointless argument instead.

But then again what other assumptions could reasonably be made about them? They are probably someone who didn't read all the small print when they bought their ticket, probably someone who can't recall ever hearing of a single accident or incident on any train where the occupants of a crowded carriage have come to any harm due to their combined inability to move an obstacle that is, after all, on wheels.

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