It was the train refrain of Christmas and New Year.
It was blurted out of tannoys with no shame, no sarcasm and no embarrassment. ‘Disruption due to ADVERSE WEATHER CONDITIONS’ sputtered from public sound systems like odourless, colourless diarrhoea.
As early as 1990 it was officially stated that winters would get warmer and very much wetter due to climate change. I would argue we’ve known since the 1970s but let’s be generous and say we’ve only known for quarter of a century!
As I mentally battled with virulent notice boards crawling with orange delay and cancellation signals, I had an internal function crisis of my own. I briefly wondered if I tore out my hair, flung my rucksack at the M&S station shop window then stripped out of my clothes, the remnants of my sanity/ dignity and ran erratically round the waiting area/cum shopping opportunity screaming ‘THIS IS CAPITALISM ULTRA. DO YOU LIKE IT?’ would anyone have the energy to intervene?
Adverse Weather Conditions (AWCs soon surely – we love acronyms). Though, in effect it’s just Adverse Weather. It’s not a ‘condition’. You know what – its actually just WEATHER.
But whether it's Weather or Adverse Weather or Adverse Weather Conditions it’s not what caused the madness on the railways. Lack of investment in infrastructure and bloody poor management over decades caused the mayhem.
We’ve also known, since Thatcher started selling the country to rich people for profit, that our infrastructure has been starved of resources. You can’t dole out huge dividends to share holders while paying for the upkeep and improvement and necessary development of the things that make the country run. Duh.
Victorian viaducts (for example) should not be attended to only when they sink into the ground. They should be Maintained. Monitored. Checked. Upgraded. The railway companies could use – oh I don’t know – some of the money I’ve paid over the years in exorbitant and still rising rail fares.
With that same money and all the taxes that the British public pay each year to the rail companies (far more than when we owned the railways!) they could plan and invest in a sensible way.
All I would be able to scream by this point because of the disconnect between the fire in my brain and the cold outside would be something mundane like ‘more trains...’ and that’s if I hadn’t been rugby tackled to the ground. Let’s face it who’d want to rugby tackle an hysterical middle aged black woman suffering train related trauma and infrastructure freak out syndrome – TRT&IFOS – on January 1st?
In the face of crumbling overworked sewer systems, potholed roads, cracked pavements, inadequate flood defenses, clogged motorways, poor (or no) housing, Cameron suggested an Infrastructure Commission. I.e. an ‘independent body’ (euphemism for we-politicians-dodge-the-blame) that would be responsible for infrastructure... Let’s just recap on what national infrastructure is. National infrastructure is what makes the country work. Now call me old fashioned but isn’t THE GOVERNMENT supposed to manage that? I mean isn’t that what running the country is? If they farm their core responsibility out to unelected bureaucrats, who is actually in charge and aren’t we just then paying politicians for their daily sound bites? It is Fantasy Government. Just a shame we can’t pay them in fantasy money. As I type I can feel the zombie apocalypse closing in.
So – I would continue my railway rampage – RaRa.
Once I had an audience I would start on Hs2 (I don’t know why I put a lower case ‘s’ there. It looks like some sort of delinquent chemical symbol). Hs2, I would rant, is about providing a train link to London so that non-oligarchs and non-Russian Mafiosi and non-Saudi Arabian friends of the elite (i.e. people who cannot afford to live in London) can commute efficiently in the future to wipe the arses of the oligarchs and Russian Mafiosi and Saudi friends of entrenched wealth.
If I hadn’t fallen over one of the coffin sized wheelie suitcases (see blog 6 Please Get a Bigger T.V.) being navigated by morons who shouldn’t be allowed on trains anyway, I would go on about how we're like third world countries where the 1% live so far above the masses they are unaffected by the lack of or failing infrastructure and simply pop up on set news pieces to say things like, ‘It’s all due to Adverse Weather Conditions’.
By this point however probably some kind person has found my mobile and phoned my partner and he will be gathering up my clothes, rucksack (telling M&S they will have to pay for their own window and, by the way, could they please use less packaging) then he’d bundle me on the bus – maybe wrapped in old newspaper – and take me to his flat. We would leave our, inevitably, dog-shit-covered shoes (yes I didn’t remove my shoes – don’t be silly) at the door and go in where he’d make me a nice cup of tea...