Wednesday, 19 May 2010

A spark goes out...

The loss of a cherished tradition is always a source of sadness.

Travelling by underground through the station at King’s Cross St Pancras in London recently, I heard the announcement ‘Exit here for the Royal National Institute for Blind People’. Nothing wrong with that, of course, in utilitarian terms: it’s informative, it’s accurate. But the old announcement was so much more poetic.

It was ‘Alight here for the Royal National Institute for the Blind’.

We’ll just glide over the fact that ‘for the blind’ rolls more smoothly off the tongue than ‘of blind people’ – that’s not the real issue. What I really enjoyed was the word ‘alight’ which, in spoken form, is indistinguishable from ‘a light’. To me, it sounded as though someone was calling for a light for the blind, which has got to be a particularly worthy objective.

Travelling by tube across London is a pretty dismal process at the best of times. The announcement at King’s Cross was a little gem that relieved the tedium. I’m going to miss it.


Anonymous said...

For me, MIND THE GAP was always fun to hear.

David Beeson said...

Yes, 'mind the gap' is the iconic announcement on the Underground, isn't it?