Sometimes I really do wonder what goes through someone’s head when they put up half the official notices we see. There was one, pasted into every cubicle of the Holyhead Ferry terminal toilets (at least in the girls’ ones, I didn’t check the blokes’) ‘Please flush the toilet’. Who, exactly, was that aimed at, do you suppose? Who is there who had mastered the basics of reading but who wasn’t really sure what the little handle thing on the bog is for? And which of those is going to read that sign and think, you know I wasn’t going to bother to flush, but now I think I will? The only function those notices really serve is to make the person who put them up feel better.
And then in the Virgin train toilets (sorry about all the toilet humour, just the way it panned out…), some instructions on the use of the emergency call button: step one, it said. Press for emergency assistance. Well, that’s fair enough, you wouldn’t want someone stranded on the floor of the disabled lavatory desperately twisting and pulling the button to call for help. But then, whoever was writing the sign obviously felt something was wrong. You can’t just have one step in a set of instructions. There needs to be a step two. So they added one: Step two. Wait for assistance. Ah, but of course. So that’s what I’ve been doing wrong all these years.
But the prize for absolute content-free informational message of the week has to go to SouthWest Trains, masters of the pointless tannoy announcement. In a rare lull between passing trains this morning at Vauxhall we heard the following message: ‘This is a special announcement from the SouthWest Trains Customer information centre,’ and we all pricked up our ears. Special announcements generally mean bad news – strikes, engineering works, signal failure at Clapham Junction, that sort of thing. ‘We would like to thank you all for choosing to travel by train today.’ And that was it.
I suppose it was a nice thought …