Wednesday, 14 March 2012

A couple of funny things happened on my trip to Shrewsbury...

Curious incidents abounded on today's visit to Shrewsbury, that lovely town on the borders of Wales and which I am assured I must learn to call Shroosbury and not Shrosebury as was my habit.

I stayed in the Prince Rupert Hotel, called after Rupert of the Palatinate. A cavalry officer endowed with flowing hair, dashing looks and no discernible talent, the extent of his effectiveness is probably best measured by the fact that he travelled to England to rescue his cousin Charles I, who eventually had his head chopped off. This has not happened all that often to reigning monarchs and is generally regarded as career-limiting.

Rupert is perhaps the archetype of the man of charm but no substance, confirming as have so many of his successors — one thinks of Ronald Reagan or David Cameron — that charisma is superficial froth and no substitute for competence.

The dining room of the hotel was decorated with suits of armour. Seemed slightly anachronistic. I don’t think Civil War soldiers turned out in full armour, did they? Perhaps the hotel got a couple as a job lot and stuck them on show anyway. There were also flintlock pistols, as threatening in appearance as they were ineffective in practice, and murderous pikes that were quite the reverse.

The dining room was called ‘the Royalist restaurant’. It made me feel that eating there would be tantamount to a political statement that would make a staunch republican like me deeply uncomfortable, but since skipping breakfast does even less for my comfort, I swallowed first my principles and then some (rather indifferent) scrambled eggs and bacon.

A while later on the platform of Shroosbury station, I took great pleasure from the announcer's sing-song recitation of the incomprehensible and, for me, unrepeatable names of Welsh stations, when she went on to tell us that some of the stations were ‘request stops’ only. 

‘Please tell the conductor on the train if you wish to leave at one of those stations and he will arrange for the train to stop there so that you can alight.’

Oh, how I wish she’d completed the thought by adding ‘... because it may cause damage to installations on the platform if you try to leave the train while it is moving.’

Before that I popped into the Marks and Spencer’s nearby, looking for the food hall. Imagine my amusement, and momentary bemusement, when I saw the signs to it.

Confused? So was I.
Can’t decide between right and left? Sounds like the Liberal Democrats. Or perhaps M&S have simply adapted the old Roman proverb, and now ‘all roads lead to the food hall.’ Given our dietary problems today, that may be quite apt.

At one of our stops on my journey home, the conductor announced that the platform being too short, passengers who wanted to leave there would have to move forward if they were in coaches C, D or E. ‘These carriages will not in-station here.’

In-station? A wonderful new verb. Its metaphorical use would express the need to accept one’s station in life, no doubt. To show proper respect to the fine figures who have led us down the ages to our present state of wealth and splendour, such as Prince Rupert or David Cameron.

Unfortunately, as the kind of ingrate who espouses republicanism and disdains a royalist restaurant incapable of serving a decent breakfast, I don’t plan to be in-stationing any time soon.

No comments: