Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Tube English - 6 Serving

Well, I never. I've been forced to resurrect a sequence from ten years ago, back in the days when I travelled daily on the Tube. I cannot claim any credit for spotting this one, it was delivered to me wrapped in brown paper and ribbons on Twitter, but it is worth logging here where it will be stored somewhat more permanently.

I don't recall the use of the word "serving" in this context before. They used to say things like "there is no service", which refers directly to the trains or "services are suspended" which is the same thing but somehow more elegant. How a train service can serve a station is hard to fathom. You can serve a meal (to a person). You can serve at tennis. A server, in computer terms, can supply data to a client computer that requests it. Service, in the context of the Tube, is supplied to the passengers. What I think the hapless tweeter meant to write was "Piccadilly trains are terminating at Rayners Lane, passengers wishing to continue toward Uxbridge should change there for the Metropolitan", as the BBC Travel tweeter nearly managed to say.

Anyway, as I don't commute any more I shall go on serving up vituperation and contumely from the comfort of my office at home, whilst wondering if dear old Milton was a commuter and whether he might have penned the following

They also serve who only stand and wait
For a non-running service that, if it ran, would be late

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