Iâ€™m with Bob on this one but if I may be allowed to live his 80s lyrics in the moment, itâ€™d be more â€œI bloody hate everyone on Mondayâ€™sâ€™. Agreed it doesnâ€™t scan quite so well, but factually itâ€™s a hit.
Last week the electronic ticket machine greedily gobbled down credit cards without coughing up anything other than an electronic parp. The human equivalent performed lamentably in terms of queue management, instead choosing to restore the machine to a working state through a violently escalating troubleshooting technique ending in him kicking the shit out of the door.
This week theyâ€™ve gone one better and neither the machine or the ticket inspector/computer repair man was working. The repercussion was an obvious hundred grumpy and ticketless travellers arriving at the Marylebone terminus. Well obvious to anyone with the thinnest slice of intelligence, which instantly disqualifies Chiltern Railways, who instead blindly worship at the altar of revenue.
Rather than admitting their enterprise class fully resilient IT systems were in fact undone by a â€˜hygiene operativeâ€™ inadvertently plugging in the vacuum cleaner and sending us on our way with an open turnstile and a forthright apology, instead they queued us like cattle facing the abattoir. The tailback was queued so far up the platform, geographically it was in the postcode of South Harrow. A single Butlinâ€™d uniformed employee of the bank of railway wickedly traded his poisoned chalice for a heavily thumbed notebook and a blunt pencil.
Yes, customer service soon became customer irritation as this one poor lad licked, frowned and consulted several notebooks everytime a frustrated passenger asked for a single from Stoke Mandeville. Still help was at hand as the arthritic â€˜Bâ€™ team parachuted in from their extended tea break with electronic copies of his desperate notebook. Sadly theyâ€™d received neither the requisite braincells nor training to operate them and entire epochs passed as they failed to navigate the complex menu system dreamt up by a descendant of Columbusâ€™s navigator. Thatâ€™ll be a single from the East Indies and to hell with the specifics.
But help was at hand with one guy binary chopping the queue with a fusion of enthusiasm and competence that singled him out as a contractor before his true colours were outed, when during the zenith of the queue, he scuttled off for his tea break. We asked to see the station manager but in a moment of true irony he was busy supervising the film crew retained to film a promotional video showing the joy of travelling on Chiltern Railways. Our desperate bribery to strike a record of a queue with sufficient depth to render it an illegal gathering failed to fire up their film cameras. Clearly they were being paid more than we could offer and considering that, through no fault of our own, we were being prevented from earning any of our own money in favour of paying the useless fucking railway company, thatâ€™s hardly a surprise.
When, after a full beard and imminent starvation had formed part of my personal physiology, a crinkled railway operative spat our his rollup and wheezed a bored question in my direction, I could barely contain my angst. When he further enquired whether a bloke wearing shorts, helmet, cycling shoes and hi-viz jacket would require a tube ticket, no option remained other than to roar â€œwhat the fuck do you think, is this bike not some kind of fucking clue” / â€œNo need to be like that Sir, Iâ€™m just doing my job” / â€œWell frankly I doubt that as all you need are a bunch of heavies in balaclavaâ€™s to mug us for cash that you clearly donâ€™t deserve” / â€œYou could always complain to the station manager Sir if you feel like thatï¿½? / â€œNo, in an outside of the box kind of thinking, Iâ€™ve decided to kill you all insteadï¿½”
The conversation went somewhat downhill from there.
When I finally exited the station some 90 minutes after my arrival, a certain aggressive bent may have been part of my personal demeanour. This was tested to destruction when a Porsche realised a massive ten yard traffic advantage through the simple mechanism of attempting to remove my legs on a Zebra Crossing. He failed to react to my woodpecker knock on the window which merely provided me an opportunity to wrench open his door and politely enquire â€œsince you tried to break my fucking legs, whatâ€™s to stop me doing to same to you?”
Itâ€™s probably the new spiky beard allied to a maniacal wall-eyed grimace and an aggressively wielded full length pump which triggered his reaction of extreme regret. This didnâ€™t stop me slamming the door with Newtonâ€™s of righteousness but a lack of brain function, brought on by red mist meant, I failed to dispatch his car keys down the nearest drain.
You may be unsurprised to hear that Chiltern Railways responded to my letter of mild complaint with an automated e-mail assuring me that they didnâ€™t give a shit since theyâ€™d already claimed there money. They hoped I hadnâ€™t been inconvenienced by arriving at work during the lunch hour and hoped that Iâ€™d soon be travelling with them soon again.
Have you ever see Falling Down with Michael Douglas? Thatâ€™s not film fantasy, itâ€™s a celluloid facsimile to whatâ€™s going down in the leafy Buckinghamshire suburbs.
Pass me the flamethrower. The time has come.