eurostarThere are no absolutes in these things, but in my own experience, pretty much every interaction I have ever had with any organisation with “Euro” in its name has been bad news. It is a sort of linguistic stigmata of ghastliness. The scent of Euro is the scent of corruption, incompetence or the sort of bureaucratic obstructionism that induces irritation bordering on rage. The sort of rage that one feels when someone who keeps swinging their heavy bag at the back of your knees on a crowded tube train. Or when, after waiting for 45 minutes on a “help line”  the voice at the other end is not only incomprehensible, but plainly belongs to someone who knows sweet Fanny Adam about the problem your rang up about in the first place.

Today it was EuroStar who made a determined bid for my Eurotrash company of the year. I want to go the Brussels, to meet some old friends. I booked on the EuroStar. BAD, BAD IDEA!

So I get to St Pancras in plenty of time. There is a bank of machines, intended I guess to give you a boarding pass when you provide the booking number. But this is the land of EuroTrash. Albeit in the heart of London. So I regard these machines as a sort of EuroDalek, as rude and unhelpful as a real French person, but in a robotic sort of a way. So I headed for the One Real Person. A queue there, not moving too fast. so I tried my luck with the Eurotrash dalek. “Enter booking reference” it said. So I entered the booking reference that EuroStar has given me.

“Booking number not recognised” said the EuroDalek.

So I rejoined the back of the queue for the one EuroHuman.  When I got to the front of the queue, he told me that I had to enter only the second part of the booking reference number.

So I went back to the EuroDalek, and entered only the second part of the booking reference number.

“Booking number not recognised” said the EuroDalek.

So I rejoined the queue, and eventually got to the front of it. I explained the problem. The EuroHuman did not seem surprised by this.  I got the impression that it happens all the time. I showed him my booking details on my phone. Eurohuman advanced on EuroDalkek, and personally entered only the second part of my booking reference number as provided to me by the EuroComputer.

“Booking number not recognised” said the EuroDalek.

EuroHuman then returned to his post, entered my name and EuroGrunted. There was my booking, good as gold. He gave me my boarding pass.

Now that does not sound too bad so far. A bit of messing around, but all sorted? Oh No! Because now the EuroSign for my train had by now changed from “Boarding” to “Closed”.

“Don’t worry”, said the EuroHuman. “Just hurry and talk to one of the staff”.

So I hurried across the few feet to the gate.  There, sure enough was the train, due now to leave in 17 minutes, which is about 10 times as long as it would have taken me to get on it. And there was a EuroStaff, who happened to be a Frenchwoman.

No, she said, with a Gallic shrug. You have to be here 30 minutes before departure. I pointed out that I had got there more than 30 minutes before departure. Another Gallic shrug. You have you go to EuroTicketing, she said.

So I went back the few feet to EuroTicketing. There was a EuroTicketer doing nothing so I approached his desk. No, he said, I had to go the back of the EuroQueue over there.  When I eventually got to see a EuroTicketer, I was told I would have to pay a fine of £30 and wait for another 2 hours if I wanted the privilege of the train trip I had already paid for.

Wisely, or not, I voted with my feet.  This was Independence day +1. I was buggered if I was going to pay a fine to the Euro people on account of their own inefficiency. My country might have to pay  £350 million a week to the EU for the next 2 years, but I was not going to give them (a loose term here, for sure, but that is how I felt) another £30. So I caught a train to Heathrow, where after a fair bit of queuing, I failed to score a flight to Brussels. My darling daughter has since booked a flight for me in the morning.  Like so much else in Euroland, the price I paid for my ticket has gone entirely to waste. Not to mention the time and money I have already spent on trying to remedy their balls up.

The reality, of course, is that this sort of EuroCrap is not going to go away immediately, just because the nation voted yesterday for independence. David Cameron promised before the referendum that if the vote was “out” then he would implement the Article 50 procedure – a 2 year negotiation period for exit – straight away.  He had broken that promise by breakfast time today, saying he would not set that clock running for another 3 months. And even at the end of 2 years and 3 months, it will probably be a long time before the long dark shadow of the EuroCloud is dispelled.

Meanwhile, I shall return to Australia. I have been a shade late for planes etc before in Australia, sometimes my fault and sometimes unavoidable – they are really helpful about getting one on. Likewise in USA.  Likewise on a British train. Only in less civilised places do officials cause needless and vindictive harm to people who want to travel, or get a permit for something, or just go about their daily lives.

Or maybe this was just a taste of EuroRevenge. Maybe the French lady thought: “This guy sounds English. He might have voted “Leave”.  I could easily let him on the train. But let’s fuck him around. Because we have only got another 2 years (and 3 months) left to do that.”

Who knows? What I do know is that I will not be booking any more journeys on bloody EuroStar in a hurry. Or anything else with “Euro” in its name.







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