When intelligence goes backward

As we all know, doctors and ambulances tend to have ‘Doctor’ or ‘Ambulance’ written on the bonnet (hood) of their vehicles in reverse. This is for 2 reasons.

  1. So some people can make complete twats of themselves by mistakenly mocking the vehicles for putting the stickers on backwards.
  2. So the car in front can read it in their rear view mirror and get the fuck out of the way (in case the siren and flashing lights weren’t enough).

Well, this morning whilst walking to work through central London, I saw a small van attempting to adopt the same principle whilst advertising its plumbing and cleaning services.

I say ‘attempting’; it looked a little something like this:

bob plumb reverse

How was that supposed to be effective?

For starters, the van looked like this:

small-van

It wasn’t tall enough to be read through the rear window in stationary traffic anyway. Plus, the text was so small it was virtually impossible to read unless your rear window was a huge magnifying glass.

Now THAT would scare the shit out of anyone driving behind you.

“Honey, the children in that car in front are huge!”

This got me thinking.

Assuming you COULD read the writing on the van behind you, and assuming you DID need a plumber AND a cleaner simultaneously, who the fuck has a pen and paper at the ready to take down all those details whilst driving?

Gnitsuahxe si elpoep emos fo ytidiputs eht.

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All for one…

This morning my train was delayed due to a “passenger being taken ill” on board.

My first clue that something wasn’t right was when a man entered from the adjoining carriage and woke me up by screaming “IS THERE A DOCTOR ON BOARD!??”

No reaction.

“PASS IT DOWN!”

No-one did.

He stood there for a few seconds, shot everyone a contemptuous look and headed back to his carriage.

Once I’d wiped away the drool from my mouth and the shoulder of the woman next to me, I looked out the window and saw we were just outside Clapham Junction, the busiest train station in the UK.  I then looked at my watch and saw that we were running 40 minutes later than usual.

What the fuck?

I soon discovered it was something to do with signalling problems/electrical issues/leaves on the track/frost.  [Delete as applicable…take your pick]

It was at this point, as the train slowly trundled into Clapham Junction (the busiest train station in the UK), that I noticed an unnatural silence in the carriage.  At first I thought it might be due to concern for our fallen comrade in the other carriage, but I soon concluded it was because everyone was thinking the exact same thing as me….

“Don’t stop the train, don’t stop the train, don’t stop the train, don’t stop the train…..”

‘Crackle’

Oh no.

‘Fizz’

Oh shit.

“Good morning ladies and gentlemen, this is your conductor speaking…”

Please no.

“…it appears the alarm has been pulled in one of the carriages…”

Ah, dammit!

“…owing to someone being taken ill on board.”

Here we go…

Now, I’ve ranted about the delays caused by those ‘taken ill’ before, but that was about the afflicted being on the platform, whereas this time it was someone actually on the train.

After multiple “apologies for the delay” and “awaiting a first-aider” announcements, it occurred to me….

Just take them off the train.

I mean, how ‘ill’ was the person if all we were waiting for was a first-aider?  At no point did the announcements say we were awaiting a surgeon…or a mortician; so why not take them off the train and treat them in the cool, refreshing morning air?

Nope.  As a lot of us feared, the inevitable happened.

The speakers crackled and fizzed to life again and the conductor suggested it might be a good idea we all leave the train and board another one.  After all, there were plenty of trains heading into London as this was Clapham Junction; the busiest train station in the UK.

As you can imagine, this went down as well as a vegan’s fart in a broken elevator with the packed masses who were already very late for work.

Now, I’ve estimated a train carriage holds over 100 people and this was a 12 carriage beast packed tighter that Tom Jones’ trousers, so in effect we had over 1200 rats fleeing a sinking ship.  That’s 1200 moaning, tutting, multi-directional shuffling zombies joining the crowds at the busiest train station in the UK; all heading towards platform 14 to join other equally packed trains full of scowling, miserable sods all unwilling to ‘move down the carriage using all available space’.

Amongst the crowds and mayhem I found a gap on platform 14 and, whilst silently congratulating myself, smugly waited for the next London-bound sardine tin.  Soon enough it pulled up and I discovered why there had been a gap on the platform; I was stood equidistantly nowhere near the train doors.

I couldn’t have positioned myself better if I’d tried.

The doors opened and people started piling off the train.  The rest of us glared at them as we watched the ever increasing space form behind them like a tin of cookies at a Weight-watchers meeting.  I began sizing up my fellow commuters to see who I could take down if the need arose.  The small Chinese woman, the man in front of me with the rucksack, the woman checking her make-up in a portable mirror; I reckon I could take them all with a well placed elbow here and a careful headbutt there.

As it turned out we all got on board.

Lucky bastards.

Mind you, some dude had my arse in his face all the way into London.

Lucky bastard.

Anyway, we arrived into Victoria almost an hour later than usual and everyone made a beeline for the underground station which, for some reason, wasn’t busy at all.  It was actually a breeze getting through the barrier and I couldn’t, for the life of me, understand why th……

Oh wait, it was 09:25am.   Of course it was quieter; most people were actually AT work!

Oh well, at least the tube would be a nice end to this nightmare journey.

‘Crackle’

Oh no.

‘Fizz’

Oh shit.

“We apologise that, due to a signalling failure at Brixton, the Victoria line is subject to major delays in both directions”.

Maybe someone should call a first-aider.

Quickly.

Faint

Not Helpful Service

Girl –  “Hello, Surgery?” (Went up at the end of the statement so it sounded like a question)

Me –  “Er, hi.  Is this the Medical Centre?”

Girl –  “Mmm hmm”.

Me –  “Oh hello, I’m calling because I need to register a new patient with you”.

Girl –  “Ok”.

(Awkward silence)

Me –  “Erm, it’s for my wife.  She’s American and she’s now resident in the UK, so the next step is to get her registered with a doctor in case she ever gets ill”.

(Long silence)

Girl –  “Right.  Ok.  She just needs to come in, fill in some forms and bring photo identification and proof of address; like a utility bill.  Ok?”

Me –  “Great, thanks.  But she’s from America and has only been here a month so she won’t have a utility bill in her name”. 

Girl –  “She lives in America?”

Me –  “No, she lives here now”.

Girl –  “Is she here, like, forever?”

Me –  “Well, certainly for the next three years”

Girl –  “So she isn’t leaving soon?”

Me –  “I certainly hope not!  Ha ha!”

(No reaction.  Nothing.  A tumbleweed rolls by)

Me –  “No, she has her visa now which means she’s a UK resident.  She just needs to be registered with a doctor and seeing as I’m registered with you, it makes sense she is too”.

Girl –  “Ok.  Well she just needs to come in to fill out some forms and we’ll sort it from there”.

Me –  “Great.  Now, she won’t have a utility bill in her name, but she did recently receive a letter confirming her National Insurance number which has her name and address on it.  Will that do?”

Girl –  “Her ‘what’ number?”

Me –  “Her National Insurance number”.

Girl –  “What’s that?”

(You’ve got to be joking!)

Me –  “It’s the number that is allocated to you so that contributions from your salary are made to the National Health Service for things like, you know, hospital treatment and DOCTORS.  That’s why I’m registering her now”.

Girl –  “Oh, right.  Ok.  So yeah, get her to come in”.

Me –  “Ok, but will that letter be enough or should I get her to bring in a utility bill with my name on it to prove the address?  Obviously we have the same surname”.

Girl –  “Er….let me just check”.

(Oh hold.  For ages)

Girl –  “Hello?”

Me –  “Hi”.

Girl –  “Does she hold a UK passport?”

Me –  “No, she’s American.  It’s an American passport”.

Girl –  “So it’s not a British one?”

Me –  “No”.

Girl –  “Oh right”.

Me –  “I mean, she’s here on a visa so she’s now resident in the UK, so it’s fine.  How do you usually register a patient?”

Girl –  “Er, I’m not sure; hold the line”.

(On hold again)

Girl –  “Hello?”

Me –  “Hi”.

Girl –  “Can I call you back?  I just need to check on this and call you back”.

Me –  “Sure”.

I’m convinced I’ve literally just had this conversation with a bored patient in the doctor’s waiting room who answered the phone because the receptionist was off somewhere having a colossal shit.

receptionist