It’s a scenario most Londoners will be all too familiar with. Evening rush hour at one of the UK’s busiest tube stations, and our reporter Lilian Hepworth is watching as hundreds of exhausted commuters desperate to get home and start drinking are being corralled like cattle up half a staircase, while the other half has been inexplicably cordoned off.
Passenger Raj Patel sums up the situation. “We’re being kettled through a gap the size of an airing cupboard, all because some TFL team leader has decided that a staircase that was built only a few years ago is too spacious for us to use. He’s even stood at the top of the stairs to make sure we don’t make any attempt to ease the chaos he has created. The little prick.”
Our reporter attempted to obtain a comment from team leader Wayne Fiveways, but was told to move on because we were blocking his view of the sea of angry faces. Instead, an anonymous TFL employee, who wished to remain anonymous, explained. “We spend, on average, an hour a day placing barriers across thoroughfares for no reason whatsoever. We are even incentivized for how much square footage we can needlessly remove from use.”
Office managers who order stationery, catering supplies and printing requisites for the nations’ workplaces admit that the huge number of units that have to be purchased at a time are bloody useless.
We spoke to Billy Tilling, an office manager from somewhere up north, who told us “2 years ago I ordered a bag of 2,000 teabags which we aren’t even halfway through yet. There’s only 3 of us in this office and Janet doesn’t drink tea, so me and Ian have been drinking tea that is basically hot brown water for months. I’d go to the supermarket and get something nice in boxes of 80, but we don’t have Capex clearance for it.”
Adds Janet Keebleton, who does the post, “The self-adhesive envelopes lost their self-adhesiveness over a year ago because Billy had to order a box of a thousand and I only send out invoices once a week. I have to use Pritt Stick to stick the flaps shut. But we had to order 30 Pritt Sticks in 2004 and they’ve turned into a sort of latex flubber.”
Concerns about the chronic shortage of Carrara marble have led to prices for the precious material rocketing, it has emerged. The shortage is being caused mainly by middle-class homeowners who want it for their kitchen and bathroom work surfaces. According to the Italian Marble and Granite Federation, based in Milan, so much Carrara has been quarried out of the ground over the last 30 years that beautiful landscapes in Tuscany are turning into permanently scarred wastelands.
Federation spokesman Gianluigi Falanghini told us in Italian, which we translated using Google Translate, “12 months of stone digging has disappeared a mountain. That mountain was people’s local pride and a big landmark, now the maps to be re-drawn to be true to landscape.”
Hampstead resident Georgina Trayger, whose kitchen re-fit was delayed due to the lack of affordable Carrara, says “I don’t give a shit about some disappearing mountain in Italy. I want Carrara for my kitchen and I refuse to pay over the odds. Luckily my kitchen fitter has managed to find a slab at a stone depot just off the North Circular. It’s still expensive but at least it’s nicer than the marble that was in here before. The veining was a bit too dark and didn’t match my tea-towels.”
Kitchen fitter Ken Babcock is puzzled by his client’s exacting standards. “The marble we just ripped out of her kitchen was lovely, I don’t know why she didn’t like it. Anyway, I’ll probably make some coffee table tops out of it and sell them on e-Bay.”
However Falanghini is worried. “Our local mountain ski resort became great big hole in ground so is now boating lake.”