In the opening to one of my novels (sorry, there is no way to write that phrase in a way that doesn’t sound pretentious) the main character Holly is on the tube, musing to her boyfriend about the voice of the tube announcer.
She begins to wonder whether the owner of said voice is still alive, and if they’re not, whether their loved ones might take the tube as a way of being with them again? Getting carried away, she suggests there’s a sense in which the actor has been immortalised by Transport for London… at which point her boyfriend tells her off for being mental.
My mum also read it and suggested to me gently that this was a bit far-fetched and I should take it out. But then this happened. The gorgeous story of Margaret McCollum,who used to plan her Tube journeys so that she would hear her late husband’s voice.
It’s funny how you write things that seem ridiculous at the time, and then they go and come true! But what’s even lovelier about the story of Margaret and Oswald is that that the reason they got together in the first place was due to the allure of his dulcet tones:
‘She met Mr Laurence in 1992 on a trip to Morocco when he was working as a tour and cruise company guide. She was instantly taken by his “gorgeous voice”. They married in 2003 and were together until his death in 2007.’
How lovely. I challenge you to read the last line of this article and NOT get completely choked up. Skip to the bottom of the ‘update’ – the last line is a fiendish tear-jerker.
On a similar theme, Nat and I also have a short film called ‘The Voice’ that we wrote years ago which is about something similar. One man, a bowl of spag bol, and his SatNav…
They’ve now awarded a winner – Jennifer Dart from Rayleigh in Essex, who saw off competition from over 6,000 aspiring poets to be crowned the official winner of the Travel Better London poetry competition.
The poem, which was written on the topic: ‘Avoid Unnecessary Delays. Don’t hold open the doors’, was crowned the winning entry by a panel of judges including Aisling Fahey, Young Poet Laureate for London, writer George the Poet and Sophie Baker from The Poetry Society.
Her verse has since been immortalised in cartoon form, complete with her very own caricature. It is now being displayed on buses and Tubes across the Capital.
TfL’s Travel Better London campaign was launched in September 2013 when colourful poetry posters designed by the artist McBess were showcased on London transport encouraging people to consider their fellow passengers when travelling.
There was also another lovely element to the campaign a few years ago – something I just discovered that a copywriting-poet-friend of mine called Amy Acre did with M & C Saatchi. She was hired to be writer-in-residence on various sites all over the tube, writing impromptu poems about little stories of TFL etiquette.