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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.

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