Anyone travelling on parts of London’s rail transport system at the moment cannot fail to notice the recent deluge of posters featuring irritatingly happy people with the slogan Building a Better Railway plastered above their heads.
Many would interpret this as an advertisement confirming that London has a perfect transport system – the stuff that fairytales are made of. Or, at the very least, it is an attempt to convince us into believing such a thing, as though we are a population of pre-programmed Stepford Citizens.
The truth of the matter is that these annoying posters are informing us that London will eventually have a more reliable service, probably not perfect, and certainly not until 2014 at the earliest. Until then, it’s misery all the way with continuous signal failures, engineering works and line closures while the ‘system is upgraded’ – presumably, to something which it should’ve been decades ago.
Thus, one is not really sure what these smiling poster people have to smile about, and this is yet another contributing factor towards why Londoners walk around looking generally miserable. They’ve just had an appalling journey to work and, on leaving the station, have seen a big smiling person telling them that they’ll have even more appalling journeys to work for at least another six years. And most of those journeys are likely to become increasingly worse.
The irony of all this is that there is another set of posters featuring equally irritating people telling us to Get Out More by using the very transport system which is currently making our lives complete hell. They, too, have beaming smiles on their faces, and I venture to argue that this is possibly because they are so far unaware of the other posters prophesising travel doom and gloom for the foreseeable future.
At the bottom of these posters is an invitation to Get Out More and become an irritating smiling face. I thought it would be amusing to take up the offer, so I contacted the relevant department by traditional telephone.
After a series of questions involving my type of work, place of work, where I have lunch, and how often I use the transport system during rush hour, I was told that, regretfully, I did not qualify for the current poster campaign. However, I was thanked for taking the time to contact them and my details would be kept on file should a future advertising campaign fall into my ‘profile bracket.’
So when I look at these smiling faces, I conclude that another reason they are probably smiling is that none of them are struggling writers who do not fall into the ‘profile bracket’ of a Stepford Citizen. But then I amuse myself with the consolation that at least struggling writers do not have to endure the ‘joys’ of travelling on London’s transport system during the peak time rush hour.