There is a train conductor with a secret longing to be a Voiceover Guy. This my theory anyway. The man really has the golden tonsils. I’ll be sitting there, seething into my book and loathing humanity; wishing I had the nerve to tell the guy two rows in front that if I can clearly hear the news that Roger Federer has defeated Inferior Player 6-3 6-3 6-0, then his personal radio is turned up too fucking loud.
But then I’ll hear the familiar BING BONG of the train announcement PA system thingy, and the Conductors voice will come through, soothing like melted chocolate.
“Good evening Ladies and Gentleman… this is your conductor speaking.”
He’ll just be apologising for the Inconvenience of the Short Delay or warning us that the Next Stop Is Glasgow Queen Street, but his tone commands attention. It’s deep, rich and reassuring. It fills the carriages; rising and falling like an old ballad. While all the other conductors mumble, he sounds like he puts a lot of thought into it and practices into a hairbrush at night.
He even does wee pauses for suspense. “The next stop is… [Ooh tell me, tell me!] Haymarket. I’d like to remind passengers to please… retain your tickets… [Why? Why?] as barrier checks… are now in operation.”
It’s a lovely mild sort of Scots accent, not one of those incomprehensible ones or over the top like Mr Connery. It belongs in voiceovers, I tell you. I can just imagine him saying, “Hair care products. Three-for-two this week at Boots“. Or, “Stay with us now on Channel Five; next up is the insightful new documentary… The Man Who Was Raised By Chickens”.
The conductor is a handsome bloke, 40-something; he’d look so dignified in a small booth with a microphone above him.
The other day he sauntered through our carriage to inspect the tickets. This is where he really showcases his range. He managed to say something different to every single passenger as they half-heartedly waved their passes at him. Thank you. Much obliged. Thanks. Perfect. Merci. Ta. Beautiful. That’s smashing. I never knew there were so many ways to acknowledge a valid ticket.
Before he got to me, he had to announce the Next Stop. I don’t understand how the system works, to be honest. Most trains have an automated voice that blasts through so abruptly that it feels like your sternum will shatter. But sometimes the conductors have to do it manually. Or maybe this guy chooses to do it that way. I watched him unlock the little hatch where the equipment resides. He cleared his throat, straightened his tie, rolled his shoulders twice and cracked his knuckles, as if he was about to walk on stage to play King Lear. Finally he cleared his throat and picked up the handset, “Ladies and Gentleman… [dramatic pause!] The next stop… is Edinburgh Waverley.”
I was dying to tell him how brilliant I thought he was, how his voice warmed my soul and if put to commerical use, it would also make me want to buy stuff. But I figured he’d just think one of the following –
1. I was being overly polite. Like when people at work thank me for making such great coffees for their meetings, when I KNOW full well I make the most shit coffees in the world, or
2. I was drunk. Like 75% of passengers on my train line tend to be.
Then again, maybe he had always harboured this secret desire to be a voiceover guy, but didn’t have to confidence to really believe he could be a voiceover guy, and took the train conductor job because at least he got to announce the stations. Maybe if someone said to him, “Have you ever thought of doing voiceover work?” his secret desires would feel validated and he’d go and sign up for Voiceover School or whatever you have to do.
Or maybe he was just a dedicated train conductor who happened to have a nice voice.
When he came by I silently held out my ticket. I was rewarded with a Marvellous.