Thursday, 12 November 2009

Something tells me we're not in Osaka

I often wonder what Richard Branson was thinking when he chose the name 'Virgin' to christen his new record company. I suppose it was meaningful back in the longhaired and slightly musty seventies. It was him up against the Establishment and his new business endeavours were pure and unsullied. Virginal, even.

He probably didn't realise that some 30-odd years later the same brand would be applied to all manner of things. An airline, financial services company, telecommunications and even a railway. None of these are normally spring to mind as being particularly pure and unsullied.

I was reminded of this the other day when I was on a Virgin Pendolino train bound for London. A colleague and I were on our way to the capital for an awards ceremony. Not wanting to hang about, we'd planned matters with military precision. It was to be an SAS-style assault; get in, pick up a slab of perspex with our employer's name on it, and get out.

I know the SAS don't normally hang about for accolades, but apart from that the comparison works, OK?

The train had ten carriages, A to J, with A at the back and J at the front. We were towards the rear, in car B. We'd shown up at Coventry station, the train was remarkably prompt and we found our reserved seats with ease. This was good. It was all we could have expected.

Pulling through the concrete-ness of Rugby, the train manager's voice came over the tannoy. In days of old, he'd have called himself the Conductor, but progress had occurred. With a world-weary voice, he announced:
"Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. This is an announcement for customers* in carriages A and B. We would be grateful if you could refrain from visiting the buffet car in carriage C. A customer appears to have been sick and as a result it is, erm...somewhat unhygienic underfoot."
I then remembered that Brother No. 2 was on a business trip in Japan. That very morning, he'd updated his Facebook status to tell us he was also going to be train-bound. Only he was going to experience the legendary 300kph Shinkansen bullet train. I couldn't help thinking there would be no vomit-derived disruption to service on the Tokaido line.

As we approached Milton Keynes, a grim-faced cleaning operative strode down the train's corridor, snapping on a pair of rubber gloves, readying herself for her chunder nemesis ahead.

It occurs to me that I've just written quite probably the most depressing sentence in the history of mankind.

Pure and unsullied, Sir Richard? I don't think so.

*(Customers=passengers. More progress.)


City Girl said...

And I'm getting on the train in Woking telling what I'll find there.

Sacrificed animals? The rotting corpses of gang informants?

fatboyfat said...

Whatever you find, it'll smell of Paco Rabanne.


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