The lady on the train says it’s going to blow up

Posted on 16/12/2013 by Karen

I’ve been working a bit in the city lately, and taking the train into Adelaide. Now, because I don’t go on the train very often, I tend to notice things other commuters don’t. Like the difficult ticketing machine with writing too small for most people to see, especially old people or drunks. (Actually, thinking about it, the latter wouldn’t bother buying a ticket, so let’s not worry too much about them.  Perhaps just older people, then.) Anyway, the writing on the screen is very small, and the touch screen is not touchy enough for my liking and it’s hard to get your credit card out. Bad design. One of my bug-bears.

But let’s talk about words

One of the commandments that came down from the creative director in my first ad agency was “If you can’t say it, don’t write it!” We were taught to write conversationally, to use the words you would use when you were speaking to someone. Which is why a good rule I recommend for checking the copy once you’ve written it is to read it out loud to hear what it sounds like. If it sounds silly or pompous or clumsy, then you need to edit it.

The script editor was clearly out to lunch

You know the lady who does the voice, over the speakers on the train? She names the next station, then warns you to… “Please mind the gap when alighting from the train.” Alighting. I’m sorry, nobody says that! Alighting! It sounds like Tinker Bell flitting up, up and away. Why can’t they just say “…when you are getting off the train.” Much simpler. But that’s not the best bit. The best bit is when we get to the train station in the city and she says “This train will terminate at Adelaide.” I’m still waiting for the explosion.