Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Railway Echo No 4

These days 'luggage', to train operators at least, means something that's left behind a seat at the terminus or destroyed in a controlled explosion if we leave it in the toilets by mistake. We trundle and stagger about with cabin trunks on our backs and induce hernias by lifting our Globetrotter suitcases onto aluminium racking. As our fellow passengers groan because they can't get by and the automatic carriage door keeps opening and shutting with robotic randomness. Nobody wants to know anymore. Once, every station had a big set of pigeon holes that contained printed luggage labels for every other station in the country, even if it was on another company's railway. So our cases, trunks, parcels, bicycles and pigeon baskets could be sent on in advance. Or the valise we'd left on the string rack in our compartment could be forwarded to the correct destination. With a porter to help us out with it all. Imagine the present day soulless franchisees trying to get their heads round that one.
Really expensive railway relics today can cost the price of, oh, a single ticket from Market Harborough to the gleaming new St.Pancras. But old luggage labels will only set you back the loose change you'd otherwise find being snatched by a platform vending machine without delivering your bar of Nestles. Not only are they a wonderful gazetteer of railway topography, they are also simple reminders of just how rich an everyday piece of print could be in terms of typefaces and texture. Porter!

1 comment:

Diplomat said...

Reminds me of the unfortunate incident with the gun cases at St Jean du Gard I told you about - mind you that litle (and extremely expensive ) accident was more the fault of my own valet (clumsy oaf - now fired) than the station porter.