Waiting (and waiting, and waiting) at Birmingham New Street station last week for Virgin train south, I became more than a little tired of the constant stream of blather from the tannoy system. Some of it was useful – this train was going to be late, that one was even later, the other one had got lost somewhere.
Much of it was aural wallpaper – those constantly reiterated instructions which brain-dead, self-important public servants pour over us so constantly that we don’t hear them any more (that is, we hear them as background din and ignore them) – keep your luggage with you, extinguish smoking materials at once, now wash your hands.
Eventually, infuriated, I looked up at the speaker above my head as it crackled to life again. “May I have your attention please” it said.
“Fuck off” I mouthed at it.
There was an electronic squawk – and silence. Nothing. I never did find out why my attention was wanted.
I shall try this again. Have I discovered some unknown power? How far can I go? It does not work with the television. I bawl constantly at newsreaders to take their sodding opinions somewhere else and give me the news, and at those Estuary-educated men and women who chatter over the credits. They never take any notice.
Nor do I get relief when I mouth the same expression at that brassy, vulgar woman whose recorded voice tells me to read the safety instructions on First Great Western’s Adelante trains. Or the chirpy little drab whose voice interrupts your reverie whilst you wait for a human at Virgin Media to answer the phone.
I will keep trying, however, and report back.