I am reading Stephen Clarke’s Talk to the Snail that is supposed to be making fun of the French and their ways of doing things. However, I came across the following paragraph that nicely summed up my experience in the UK.
“The Brits are so obsessed with performance statistics that performance actually gets worse. I was recently on a train from London to Luton Airport. I wanted to get off at St Albans, midway along the route. But when we got to the first stop outside Central London, it was announced that because the train was running ten minutes late it would be going direct to Luton Airport so as not to miss its performance target. I, and most of the other passengers, had to get off and wait twenty minutes for the next train. The result: the train was on time but the passengers were late. A stroke of British management genius.”
I have many other similar (or worse) stories. For example, once a Piccadilly line train arrived at Covent Garden, some people got off, others got in, the doors closed and the train moved. The moment it started moving towards Holborn (the next station), the driver announced with a smirk in his voice: “Oh, by the way, Holborn station is closed.” There was a collective groan of disbelief and all these passengers had to go all the way to Russell Square, which was much, much farther from Holborn than Covent Garden was. The sensible thing would have been to announce about the closure while still at Covent Garden, with the doors open, and let the Holborn people off there. But then that would have been far too logical for the London Tube.