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19 October 2010

Asinine Announcements

Travelling on South West Trains recently between London Waterloo and Teddington I was struck by how irritating are the repeated automated on-board announcements.

The more I listened to them the more I thought the number of words could be significantly reduced.

In measured tones (delivered by a prissy sounding female throw-back to 1940s BBC announcers) we get ..

“The next station is Norbiton. Please mind the gap between the train and the platform edge.”

Sixteen words! Let’s start wielding the axe ..

“Next stop Norbiton. Please mind the gap between the train and the platform edge.”

Fourteen words. But wait a minute; this is a public safety announcement, not a polite invitation. We can dispense with polite niceties ..

“Next stop Norbiton. Mind the gap between the train and the platform edge.”

Thirteen words. But wait a minute; where else would the gap be but between the train and the edge of the platform .. between the train and the platform roof? (There may be such a gap, but it doesn’t have to concern us.)

“Next stop Norbiton. Mind the gap between the train and the platform”.

Twelve words. But wait a minute; where else would there be a gap that we have to mind (apart from between the ears of the person who wrote these announcements)?

“Next stop Norbiton. Mind the gap.”

Six words. But wait a minute; we know there is going to be gap, because without it there’d be a nasty scraping noise as the train pulled into the station. People tend to aim for a solid surface rather than a gaping void when alighting from a train.

“Next stop Norbiton.”

Three words. There you go! – an 81% reduction in verbiage and we have all the information we need.

South West Trains take note.

09 October 2010

Stupid Signs

Why do the numpties of the Highways Department think it is necessary to place these signs?!

Obviously it has escaped their notice that if you are driving a car along a road, then the actual road ahead is pretty much in your field of vision.

This being the case, the absence of road markings tends to be self-evident.

If the road is not in your field of vision I venture to suggest you should not be driving.

Similarly, if you read this notice, and then see road markings, then you might be hallucinating, in which case it's time to hang up your driving gloves.

Fortunately for you, however, it is usually the case that you are seeing the road markings because, having painted them on the road, the highways people have gone away forever and forgotten to take the sign with them.

03 October 2010

Return of Common Sense

Internet jokes about the death of common sense have been flying around in recent years, but I am heartened by a couple of recent announcements by the UK's new Liberal Democrat-Conservative Coalition Government.

The first relates to the over-zealous use of (often imaginary) Health & Safety Regulations by Local Authority officials to ban all sorts of enjoyable and traditional activities in the interests of health and safety, and the fear of compensation claims. Children's games (such as Conkers) have been banned without protective gear, traditional and slightly mad activities like pancake races and cheese rolling have been banned.

The Government is now making a plea for the return of Common Sense, and requires Local Authorities to make out a written case for banning anything under Health & Safety Regulations, and gives local communities the right to challenge any such ban. They also want a reduction in TV adverts for "no-win, no fee" legal services and a reduction in the so-called Compensation Culture.

The second piece of good news is that regulations preventing school teachers from physically restraining a child, or from offering physical comfort to a distressed child have been scrapped. Thank heavens that piece of nonsense has gone.