09 February 2008

One more cup of coffee for the road

I often find myself irritated by things at work. I would be surprised if I were not the only person in the world who has this experience. On Thursday, it was the discovery that the office firewall had been strengthened yet again, and I could not listen to podcasts or read RSS feeds on Google Reader (the source of so much updating material these days). Nor could I post to my blog, though I had to admit to myself that it was hardly grounds for criticising the office computer system, although there is plenty of work-related stuff in it.

Worst, when I pressed the "publish" button the whole lot was lost, and it was a good one (of course). Later I started to recreate it:

"A slightly unusual train ride this morning, as I found myself exchanging emails with a friend who must remain nameless, who was stuck in an overcrowded train at Reading as we passed through the outskirts of London; and also unusual in the length, complexity and detail of the train manager's explanation of what was wrong with it. Even more unusual, from my point of view there was nothing at all wrong with the train service as it ran on time and I had a seat."

That was as far as I got, due to pressure of time. The train had appeared on time at Didcot, but the train manager was at pains to apologise for the fact that it had started at Worcester Shrub Hill rather than Great Malvern as it should have done, because it - the collection of power cars and carriages - had ended up overnight at Bristol because of a fatality at Burnham (no, I don't understand how that worked, but it is what I recall of the announcement). The crew meanwhile had spent the night at Great Malvern (which doesn't sound too much of a hardship, though I have no idea how unsalubrious their accomodation might have been), with the result that (here's the main point of the apology, I think) there was no buffet service on board. They must have found a driver and train manager cooling their heels in Worcester and placed them with this service, but not the stewards whose presence is so important for the comfort of the first class passengers. I'm surprised they allow trains to run at all with this profit centre lacking!

We arrived on time in London, so as far as I was concerned no apology was needed. What the Great Malvern passengers, who probably turned up at about 5 am only to find no train to take them to London, felt I cannot tell. I suspect they would have settled for a train without a buffet.

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