The guards on my trains were busy again today although at least they weren’t attempting to enforce the unenforcable this time around. The one this morning was multitasking – not just doing the doors at the stops but also checking and selling tickets in between which meant not a few people were left dangling in mid-purchase while he had to get out and do important whistle-blowing things on the platform* (this was usually between the point of handing over the tenner and getting their change – a bugger if that was your stop). He certainly looked the part of a busy man – his belt was completely taken up, what with the mobile phones and radios and torches and ticket machines and oyster card readers and other bits and pieces. Clearly, if SouthWest Trains want to issue any more kit they are going to have to get some fatter guards. That’s probably why they still have the whistles – they can hang them round their necks.
The guy this evening was less visible but, not to be outdone, made himself audible instead. He got onto the tannoy at the approach into Wandsworth Town to tell us the train was busy (we had noticed) and the first class carriage had been declassified (hurrah) and, with a brief pause to do the doors at Wandsworth, was still giving us complicated instructions as we approached Clapham Junction (‘You’ll find the departure board at the bottom of the stairs as you exit via the overpass but you won’t see it because it’s facing the passengers coming down the stairs, so if you do want to see it I advise you go up the stairs first and then turn round and look down and you’ll see which platforms all the trains are going from’). I do appreciate the SouthWest Trains guards, I really do (the Silverlink equivalents all seemed to have been selected on the basis of poor diction and a poorer grasp of English) but I do wish sometimes they’d relax, sit down, take a break, especially on a Friday. They’re making the rest of us feel tired.
* Am I the only person who’s rather pleased with the fact that despite the automatic door pips and all the other electronic gear on the trains these days, we still get seen off from the platform with an old-fashioned blast from a whistle?