Railway Tales
Ronnie Barker

When they came to me and asked me to say some kind words about British Rail, frankly I told BR to be off.
Then they offered me a thousand quid.
I said I’m not a man who can be bought.
Then they offered me two thousand quid...

Good evening,
British Rail is a wonderful institution … but we do have our problems. Now one of them is passengers. Did you know that every second, seventeen men, thirteen and a half women and a brown paper parcel get on to a train? And that seventeen men and thirteen women get off … though not necessarily with each other? Which only leaves half a woman, and a brown paper parcel … and that’s no good to anyone, is it? Be honest. Oh, I don’t know though.

Another problem is the weather. Now due entirely to unforeseen circumstances, winter has arrived this year. Yes, we’ve got more frozen points than the topless bar at the North Pole. This map shows the lines that are affected … by engineering works over this weekend ,,, so if you are trying to go anywhere from anywhere, you will just have to go via somewhere else.

Now believe it or not, some people even complain about British Rail food, saying it’s not absolutely tip-top value ,,, well, I mean, look at this cup of tea, I mean, have we doubled the price? Certainly we have not. Mind you, we have halved the cup.

By the way, all complaints now go straight into our new British Rail suggestion box, which is, of course, automatic. There it is. SFX: Swoosh – bang!

Now, since we’ve installed our new streamlined ticket windows, many ungrateful travellers have complained that they don’t like queuing an extra half-hour just to get a ticket. They even claim that outside Victoria Station ticket touts can get ten quid for a single to Brighton.

What about fares? I hear you ask. Well British Rail are going to replace the existing fare structure with a very unfair structure. So, what about the new cheap tickets? Well this one is a monster best-seller. It’s called the runabout rover away-day senior-citizens’ winter-break special. If you’re a one-armed old-age pensioner with a bicycling dog travelling daily between Bodmin and Arbroath you’ll get it for nothing. We’ll keep on with our old favourites of course. The Scots’ “Wey-Hey Day” or we have, of course, this one here, for divorcing couples, the “Go Away and Stay Away Day”, and, of course, the Mother-in-Law’s Special Day Return”—the train doesn’t stop and you wave to her out of the window. That’s it. And, of course, then we have a couple of naughty ones—we have tired businessmen needing a weekend with their secretary—we have the “My wife doesn’t understand me weekend”, or we have for the otherwise inclined, there’s a nippy day return down to Portsmouth called “Hello Sailor!”

British Rail intend to maintain their standards. But now for the good news. Yes, after a hundred years of research we have perfected the robot porter. Now let’s try asking him a question. “I say, my man, When is the next train to Slough?” [Farty noise] “Don’t ask me mate.” There we are, you see.

But it doesn’t end there. Here is a good word for commuters … scum. But for those bona-fide travellers who hearken after the good old days of steam, we have developed this. Every twenty minutes the guard will come into your compartment and blow soot and smut into your eye.

Now, you do your bit, and we’ll do our bit, and we’ll try to lose a hundred million pounds of your money every year.

The end