Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Creepy public messaging

I've previously had occasion to remark on the creepy collectivistic propaganda on London Underground, particularly under the guise of Transport for London which is the relevant governing agency.

We've had a barrage of posters proclaiming how Transport for London, which is an adjunct of the mayoralty and assembly of London, is 'ours', a statement which even were it true would raise the question: why the hundreds of billboards informing us of the fact? did any of us authorise this expenditure of our taxes?

More recently we've had posters across London and on the Underground which show an array of vehicles: buses, black cabs, bicycles, tube trains - all of which, including it seems the bicycles and black cabs belonging to private individuals - can, in TfL's eyes, be regarded as somehow part of it.

Travellers on the Underground will also be familiar with those announcements which tell you, according to God only knows what criteria, that there is disruption to the Jubilee Line and Hammersmith & City and Distrit & Circle lines, but a good service elsewhere. The intention of this totalitarian tannoy bleating is of course not to inform or enlighten but to humiliate: it is within their power to make us listen to obvious lies.

But then this morning, standing on the southbound Northern Line platform at Leicester Square I had the strangest experience yet. Every minute or so, a recorded message flooded the platform, 'There is a good service on the Northern Line'. That was it. Clockwork regular and a propos nothing at all. It brooked no contradiction and apparently was not updated in light of the fact that I waited six minutes for a train at the height of the rush hour.

Anyway after about the third repetition of this odd bleating out of nowhere, I looked quizically around me, foolishly expectant of a platform of fellow passengers, their brows furrowed in anger, their eyes rolling with disbelief at what they were hearing. But there was nothing. Everyone seemed immune to the catechism.

"If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - for ever."

And the bloke sporting the boot is kitted out in London Underground fluorescent vest and truculent pidgin English.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention the posters proclaiming "WE ARE LONDONERS" (nominally these posters are the responsibility of TfL, but I suspect the influence of the Borg. And more fool you if you think that's just Star Trek fiction).

UPDATE UPDATE: Oh, and I ought to have explained: the letters ONE in LONDONERS, well these letters are highlighted in a different colour. The posters thus read both WE ARE ONE, and WE ARE LONDONERS. Turns out they are not the responsibility of TfL, but the Mayor instead. And they have started to multiply - they're lining trees along the Victoria Embankment and Park Lane. It's like the preparations for a Nuremburg rally.

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