Thursday, 12 November 2009

Did they really mean that?

Public address announcements are like cherries in the Spring: you can collect them up and treasure them for enjoyment later on.

For some years, we lived near Paris and regularly had to travel to Roissy airport to collect visitors (amazing how many more people come to visit you when you live near somewhere like Paris than, say, somewhere like Stafford). I always loved the announcement in the car park, which entreated us to pay for the parking in the terminal building ‘before regaining your vehicle’. AĆ©roports de Paris is a massive great company, earning, or at least receiving, large sums of money, and it amazed me that they couldn’t afford an English speaker to tell them that, with our less complex personalities and perhaps reduced tendency to get into a flap, we prefer simply to return to our cars without engaging in some kind of major combat to regain them.

Then there’s the brilliant announcement on Ryanair flights that ‘passengers may leave the aircraft using the front and rear steps’. I keep wanting to shout back ‘there’s no way I can do that,’ though of course being able to split oneself into two in that way, like some kind of quantum waveform, would be a pretty remarkable party trick, wouldn’t it?

Then today as I was waiting for a train on platform 4 at Stafford station, I heard the announcement ‘the train to Birmingham New Street will arrive and depart on platform 1’. The inconvenience of having to change platforms was as nothing compared to my disappointment at the banality of the information. Now if it had told us that the train would ‘arrive at platform 4 as planned but depart from platform 1’, that would have been startling, interesting and worth watching.

Didn’t happen though.

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