A graded scale of sorry

Back in the good ol’ days when I was at the University of Leeds, they had a number of different pre-written letters with which to congratulate you on your exam results.

A first would get you “congratulations on an excellent set of results”. Upper second class honours would merit “congratulations on a very good set of results” while a Desmond* would earn “congratulations on a good set of results”. See the pattern?!

A Douglas would merit “congratulations on a set of results” which always amused me. I don’t know what you would get if you failed to achieve a third. Perhaps they assumed you wouldn’t be able to open the envelope, and didn’t even bother sending you a letter.

This is all leading up (oh, yes, there is structure!) to my experience on Platform 3 of Bristol Temple Meads station on Monday morning. Well, of course, where else? I haven’t moaned about trains for, ooh, a week at least.

Clearly the same PR genius that revolutionised Leeds is now working for Virgin Trains, or whichever company is responsible for the public address systems on the platforms. Now when trains are late they have a deadpan voice going through “I am sorry” to “I am very sorry” to “I am extremely sorry” (this train was cancelled).

Anyway, there is no real conclusion to this story/pair of stories. Unless you want to hear the reason for the delay: “This train is delayed because of delays in the London area.”

Brilliant. Delayed because of delays. What will they think of next?

* As in Desmond Tutu for the non-Brits. If you have no idea what I am talking about here you may wish to google our University classification system. But then you might not.


4 thoughts on “A graded scale of sorry

  1. Have I ever blogged about/told you about my delay on the train from Burley Park into Leeds one winter morning? The train was packed and very late, so full of grumpy-looking businessmen… The announcer happily came over the tanoy and said:
    “Good morning and a warm (he was being ‘ironic’) welcome to the Leeds train. We apologise for the delay to this service, which is due to cabin staff oversleeping in the Knaresbrough area…”

  2. Clearly, it’s important to them to make you aware that these are not _their_ delays, they’re caused by another company in the London area. Because everyone hates London, so why not hate it just a little more?

  3. I know that feeling! My local train station has the deadpan voice saying ‘I am sorry there is a delay to the 0h eight forty to London Liverpool Street, This is due to a delay on the train’s previous journey.’
    Sadly there doesn’t seem to be any graduation in the grovelling just an automaton- Leeds sounds much better than E. London!

  4. I noticed that when I was stuck at Birmingham New Street (horrible, horrible place) waiting for my train back to Leeds. Every announcement was an apology which varied in degrees of fake sincerity.

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