I was down in Brighton last Wednesday, the 19th, to do a live interview with Sarah Garrell on BBC radio for Sussex and Surrey plus an interview down the line with Andy Potter for radio Derby to publicize my new novel Lies. Very pleasant except the journey down to Brighton was chaotic.
There’d been a ‘Security Alert’ at Victoria Station, so police cleared the station for an hour. The trains were jumbled up and all over the shop, hence massive delays. But I eventually got to my destination.
A few drinks after the interviews with my mate Jon who designs the covers. I slept well that night.
Next day at Brighton Station, I stumble onto the 10.19 train to Victoria. Dribs and drabs of last minute passengers rush on and search for seats. Then there’s an announcement from the train driver. ‘This train is out of commission, So if all passengers would leave the train and await further instructions.’
Everyone piled out, about four hundred of us looking bewildered. Then the Tannoy started. His words spewed like gushing water, none of them comprehensible, just one phrase seemed to be clear ‘Platform 5’. The four hundred rushed off. But there was no train on that platform. And the board sign said ‘Bedford’. Then the train arrived. A few climbed aboard, obviously not concerned about wether it was the right train or not but just to get a seat.
The rest of us stood around waiting for another announcement but none came. It was obviously a tea break. Then another train arrived on Platform 6. A load of them went on it. I asked a sensible looking man, who was climbing aboard. ‘Does this go to Victoria?‘ ‘No, but Clapham Junction, if that’s any good.‘ That’ll do me, I thought, so I joined the confused travelers. Eventually the train moved off.
No Clapham Junction appeared through the train window. and we ended up at Three Bridges. I was furious and stormed about looking for someone to complain to.
Then, the notice board on the platform changed. It read Charring Cross. Thank the Lord, all thoughts of being lost and abandoned evaporated, here was my escape route!
Now a couple of days later and reflecting on that chaotic mess of getting back and forth from the South Coast I came up with an answer to one of the problems that railway passengers face.
Station announcers are simply just gabblers. They should be trained in microphone techniques and clarity. I find most of them totally incomprehensible. So why don’t they use actors?
There are thousands of actors all over the country, all out of work. They would leap at the chance to earn a few bob.
I just wish that whoever owns all the lines would wake up and bring in the professionals.