London transport staff. What a loveable bunch of misery merchants they are. Predictably sour, universally unhelpful and still wrestling with the basics of communication beyond grunting when someone dares ask for help.

They argue that the great unwashed tide of humanity that ebbs and flows past them all day stains them with petty irritations, grumpy demands and sarcasm that all but calcifies their better emotions.

Nothing is guaranteed to get your morning commute off to a worse start than an encounter with one of these subterranean Orcs.

Typical example last week. Waiting for a train in vain. Several services dropped off the indicator board with no explanation. An hour passed. The natives are getting restless.

I approach a ticket wallah at the barrier. He has his back to me.

‘Excuse me,’ I say. No response. ‘Excuse me, do you know when the next train to X is?’ Still no response. ‘Do you want to turn round when I’m talking to you?’

‘Why?’ says the back.

‘I just want to know how long the delay is likely to be.’

‘No idea. You’ll have to wait.” he says still not turning around.

‘Thank you. Great customer service.’

 No response. Welcome to London.


“May the road rise up to meet you, may the wind be ever at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face and the rain fall softly on your fields. And until we meet again, may God hold you in the hollow of your hand.”

Old Irish proverb

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