“This is a safety announcement. Due to today’s weather, please take extra care on the station platform. Surfaces may be slippery.” London Bridge is crowded despite the snow but the surfaces are clear and there’s not a hint of ice. People walk about. A young mum chases her child, uncomfortably close to the yellow line.
“This is a public safety announcement. Please do not leave baggage unattended on the platform. Unattended baggage may be damaged or destroyed or removed without warning by the security services.”
My red holdall, while not exactly unattended, is several feet away next to a nun eating a sandwich. It looks delicious. I once fancied being a nun, in a large-eyed Julie Andrews kind of way. It could be me sitting there next to a red bag eating soft, wholemeal bread with tuna squidging from the sides. Instead I’m standing near the Departures Board straining my eyes for Bedford, feeling unsettled. Any moment a black clad MI5 agent could swoop between the nun and her tuna and detonate my weekend underwear without warning. I mentally run through the other things in my bag and wonder what I’d miss most. After a brief struggle with the books, I decide on the Estee Lauder lipstick (shiny, expensive). Shameful really.
A bird lifts off a rooftop. A dog barks. There’s the smell of coffee.
“This is a public safety announcement. Twenty four hour CCTV cameras are operating at this station for your security and safety management.”
Speeding away from London, I begin to relax. I’m going to see my friend, I’m on a train, it’s quiet. I can lean back and look at winter landscape, admire lone trees lollipopped in sugared fields. I’m not that bothered about life being safe. Of course it’s not. But what about death – is that safe?
“This is a public safety announcement. Time is fragile and has a Use By date. While we are committed to your assistance and will make every effort to help you prolong it, please note that one day your life will end. All passengers are advised to take the following precautions: – Make peace with the past; choose where you’re going; practise gratitude. Please mind the gap between the train and the platform edge.”
Now that’s the kind of announcement I’d find helpful.