All companies now entirely creepy

It’s nice to be loved.

A few weeks ago I got an email saying that somebody missed me very much. They were quite emotional – they pined for me to come and see them again, said it had been too long, yearned to catch up. I probably would have been touched, were that somebody not Southern Railway.

Since then I’ve had two further emails, one a gentle reminder of how much they missed me and how they wanted to give me a gift, and the next a slightly threatening reminder that if I didn’t come back to them in a few days they were going to take the gift away.

Southern Railway is basically a jilted lover.

To clarify, my relationship with Southern was nothing more than a fling, to me at least. From memory I pre-booked a Southern train to Clapham, I got on it and then I got off. I was in and out in 5 minutes, tops…

Feel free to finish off that sentence however you like, my two suggestions are ‘as ever’ or ‘which was actually quite a good showing by my standards’. I’ll be the bigger person and refrain from childish innuendos.

Anyway, as I was saying it was pretty brief, but entirely satisfactory – and we both went our separate ways, or so I thought. Now, they’re literally following me to work and metaphorically standing outside, playing the guitar, naked from the waist down, weeping and whispering my name.

"Taking you on journeys, then sniffing your clothes"

“Taking you on journeys, then sniffing your clothes”

I’ve got nothing against Southern Railway, apart from the fact that they’re a train company trying to be my friend and that makes no sense. They’re just a particularly strong example of the ever-increasing trend for every company you ever deal with to want to be your best mate or to stalk you for several years.

Companies have finally cottoned on to the idea that not being total arseholes might make people like them and want to spend money with them – the idea is that if you’re good to your customers they’ll choose you more often. If you build a good ‘relationship’ with the customer, it’ll pay dividends long term. A nice idea, which works when executed well and which many firms are seemingly intent on dry humping into utter oblivion.

A quick glance at my unread emails tells me that Sports Direct, Spurs, Tesco and the RFU all want me back, among many others.

Spurs I find especially odd given that I’m an Everton fan. I think I bought someone a Spurs mug in 2005 – so it’s entirely logical that they’d still be contacting me 9 years later – I must be a pretty premium customer. If it were a person I’d have got a restraining order about 8 years ago.

But seeing as it’s not, it’s just a company trying to make me spend more money by being insincerely chummy, it’s apparently totally fine. Which is totally not fine.

In short, I don’t want a relationship with a train company. I want to get on a train and get off it at roughly the right place and time and for there to be little to no sick on the seats. I certainly don’t want a fucking postcard from the 08.54 to Leatherhead.

The same is true of 99% of other companies we deal with. Just provide the service I require, do it well, I’ll be happy. I don’t need anything more than that. What’ll make me choose you in the future is good experiences when I’m buying stuff, not 15% off single fares and gooey emails about how brilliant I am and how you miss me. All that’s going to do is make me not go to Clapham.

Which is actually fine, Clapham’s a dive.

But that’s not the point, the point is stop it, it’s weird.


HS2 to bring UK roaring into 1980s

David Cameron has today announced that he has given the go-ahead for an ambitious railway project linking London with places that already have perfectly good rail links. And Toton.

The Prime Minister delivered a thundering address proclaiming the end of the steam locomotive to make way for a new-fangled contraption utilising the majestic power of electric current. He hopes that this will pave the way for a new economic boom based on the northern steel and cotton industry after reading a book, which aides were too embarrassed to tell him was from the 19th century.

"Onward, to the future!"

“Onward, to the future!”

“When I consider the major needs of the British people, I always land at the conclusion that what is starving this country is the inability of Londoners to visit Wigan in less than three hours”, he declared.

“We will be the pride of Europe, with the exception of all of the countries that built this sort of thing 30 years ago.

“We will be the pride of Britain!

“With that in mind, I have set aside a quite extraordinary amount of money which I will use to build an express train service linking several already well-connected towns.

“I plan to use half of the £30 billion on a ‘hearts and minds’ campaign to persuade the public that this represents good value and vaguely sound logic, and the other half to lay the rails, which will be made of gold.”

He added, “I am also using the opportunity to direct a line towards Toton, which is where my favourite hat shop is. What is politics without perks, after all?”

Public reaction has been a typically English mixture of anger, fear and confusion. Some over-zealous Londoners have already begun erecting barricades at Euston station to prevent gangs of northerners infiltrating the capital, although this is thought to as much to do with the recent release of Les Miserables as anything: people are always looking for an excuse to erect a barricade.

In the north, people are confused as to why they should go to London in two hours when they already live in Manchester, which takes them no hours to get to, is quite a bit friendlier and has cheaper drinks. There is also some consternation that the scheme is costing £500 for every soul in the UK, whereas Megabus will take you to London for £1 plus 50p booking fee. For £500 you can get to Spain, and it’s hot there.

Petitions are being signed to inquire as to whether the train can go to Spain instead.

Finally, in the bit of the UK which doesn’t have any stations but does have a 250mph steel tube about to go racing through it, there is outrage at the controversial plan to lay rail lines through the back of absolutely everybody’s garden.

Leader of the influential ‘Stop HS2 and all other forms of change’ pressure group, Steven Haynes, is unconvinced by the scheme:

“I’ve looked at the artist’s impression of the railway line and they’ve actually drawn the route going directly through my infant son’s knee.

“I mean, what if there are paedophiles on those trains? Who will protect my son’s knee?

“Also, if I had £30 billion to blow on a new transport system – I’d have gone for hoverbikes. Just saying.”

Concerned individuals may relax though. The scheme is scheduled to arrive in 2026 – but if it is anything like every other British train, and it will be, it’ll probably arrive around 2140, make an unscheduled stop near Lincoln, and smell of piss.