Wednesday 23 July 2008

Subtitled travel

Last night I was sat on the bus with NikNak trying to ignore two people in front of us who were actually in advanced stages of foreplay. As a result of them, we were looking anywhere other than directly ahead and it was because of this that we noticed that the bus is now subtitled! At each stop, the name came up and a woman’s voice said, ‘Phna nana naa’ – well that’s what I heard anyway!

I was very impressed with this – although it would be great if they could subtitle the driver announcements as well. Trains often have subtitles now too – I went on one recently that appeared to subtitle every single announcement. It was great – I was able to sit back, relax and enjoy my journey instead of wondering what the muffled tinny voice was saying.

The tube is getting there slowly, or so I am told, as I rarely venture on to it. The District line will now tell you in scrolling red writing what destination you are going to but again, if you’re stuck in a tunnel and the driver is announcing that you should make yourself a bed for the night, shouldn’t they subtitle this, too?

I was once on the Northern line between Angel and Kings Cross when the train stopped suddenly. It was quite late at night and there were three other people in the carriage. Ten minutes later I still didn’t know what was going on and I was starting to feel a teensy bit panicked – actually, to be truthful, my eyes were so wide that I resembled the cat from Shrek. But I stuck it out.

Ten minutes after that however, still with no clue what was going on, I asked the people opposite me what the driver announcements were. And, after a few confused looks, it transpired that they were Greek and didn’t speak a word of English. Luckily my hearing aids were in my make-up bag so they knew I was deaf not bonkers.

But by this time, my Shrek-cat eyes were starting to spout tears and the tourists looked a bit alarmed. So what they decided to do was to phonetically repeat every single word the driver said and gradually we pieced together what was going on. They were amazing and I could have kissed them all.

Perhaps the form of transport most behind in the subtitled stakes is the plane. Very little is subtitled on them, although Turkish Airlines do have a signing person on the screen for the safety announcement. But what I really want is subtitled movies – I want to be able to watch more than just the pictures and get all the jokes – not accidentally watch American movies all the way through in French without realising.

It would also be great if they could subtitle the captain’s announcements, too. You see, when I can make out a voice but not what is being said, my imagination runs wild. And, depending on my frame of mind, this can be a good or bad thing.

A few years ago, I was flying from London to Amsterdam to see Big Bro and the turbulence was chronic. Suddenly, halfway through the flight, the captain started talking and went on and on and on. I desperately tried to make out words, as I was a teeny bit scared by the bouncing. But all my brain could hear was, ‘And, the plane is crashing and we’re all going to die.’

Irrational? Totally, but it’s kind of hard to be rational 33,000 feet up and fear is your dominant emotion. Nowadays though, used to prattling captains and their endless pointless spiel, I just look at the other passengers’ faces and if they look calm, I stay calm.
If they look panicked however…

Actually, let’s not even go there!

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