Saturday 18 October 2014

New Poem: Questions

I was at Euston Station. An elderly woman came

up to me and started talking to me. She had an

accent. Could have been German. Or Portugese.

She asked me if she could ask me some questions.

She showed me a picture of herself in a polythene

see-through bag. I didn’t look very closely at it but

I thought I saw the word ‘Marketing’. My train was

delayed so I said, OK. She said that it was to improve

the service. I said, OK and she rummaged around in

her bag and took out a clip board. On the clip board

there was a list of questions.

She said, ‘Are you travelling today?’

‘Yes,’ I said.

‘Are you travelling for business, leisure or family


I said, ‘Family reasons.’

She said, ‘Do you ride a horse?’

I said, ‘No.’

She said, ‘When a piece of bread is smaller than

the slot in the toaster, then, assuming you turn off

the toaster for health and safety reasons do you
a) stick a knife in the bread and hook it out?
b) pick up the toaster, turn it over and shake

it out? c) leave it in there?

I said, ‘’b’) I turn the toaster over.’

She said, ‘Do you travel First Class or Second Class?

I said, ‘Usually Second Class, but at the weekends I might


She said, ‘Do you think the world political situation

would be improved if a) the Roman Empire came back b)

people stopped eating processed meat, c) politicians drank

more water?

I said, ‘I don’t think any of those. Can I say ‘None’?

She said, ‘I’m the one asking the questions.’

I said, ‘I know.’

She said, ‘I’ll take that as a)’

I said, ‘The Roman Empire one?’

She said, ‘Yes.’

I said, ‘The Romans didn’t have trains.’

She said, ‘If they did, they would have made them

run on time.’

I said, ‘Except towards the end. You know, when they

were leaving here and going back to Rome.The trains

wouldn’t have been on time then.’

She said, ‘I’ve made a note of that.’

I said, ‘Thanks.’

She said, ‘On a scale of ten do you think the following

would improve the service:

‘Giving customers flat-pack self-assembly furniture to

construct on their journeys?’ 10 for definitely, Zero for

not at all.”

‘Nine,’ I said.

On a scale of ten, do you think customers should be

supplied with the magazine, ‘Dairy Cow News’?

I said, ‘Nine’.

She said, ‘Why?’

I said, ‘Because when I was about ten years old I

developed a fascination with dairy cows. I could tell

the difference between a Dairy Shorthorn and an

Ayrshire. I think having a free copy of ‘Dairy Cow

News’ would be of great interest.’

She said, ‘The survey is complete. We give all the

people we interview a small gift. You have a choice.

Would you like a pen, a notebook, a tomato, a

holiday in Florida or a baby?’

I said, ‘I’ll take the tomato.’