Impenetrable grovelling is with us once again

When I was sixteen and trying to form a band (weren’t we all?) there was a thing you’d get from old-fashioned amplifiers. It was called feedback, and it was the most ear-gouging sound you can imagine. Today we have politico-business feedback which is of a similar order.

Oddly, in its most irritating form it is inaudible. So it was for my daughter earlier this week, stuck for 36 hours in Bangkok. British Airways’ feedback consisted of ‘We will be boarding our delayed flight BA 0010 at 22.45 this evening’. That was 12 hours into the future, and after 24 hours of waiting around.

The same was true for the poor devils queuing outside St Pancras station over the last two days, trying to get everywhere from Edinburgh to Paris. When similar stuff happens on South West Rail, there’s a scuggy old blackboard with the words ‘No trians tooday‘ on it. They put it next to the threat of prosecution if you board without a ticket. This in turn is close by the sign saying ‘Ticket Office Closed’.

The man running Heathsnow told the media his people would be ‘crawling all over the problem’ today, but not why they’d been useless for the last three. Obviously, his people hadn’t been listening to the Met Office’s feedback, which had been warning everyone of deep snow and sub-zero temperatures for some five days beforehand.

Last night, Skype went down (at what must be one of the busiest times of the year for them) and tweeted what the problem was. Course, if you’re not sad enough to follow @Skype on Twitter, you heard about it on BBCNews around 10 pm. Skype’s feedback was that they’d suffered ‘a surfeit of outage’. I was pretty outraged myself, not least because I haven’t a clue what outage is.

Most software feedback assumes that everyone is a geek blessed with the ability to read runes. ‘An unexpected error has occurred’ is my favourite, but some of it positively increases one’s anxiety: ‘This file has been copied and may be used by another programme or be incompatible with Unzip. Confirm?’ Durrr

After Vince Cable’s confirmation that Rupert Murdoch is a failed arse transplant last Tuesday, David Cameron said at his joint press conference with Clegg that he had formed ‘a Ministerial Resilience Committee’ to deal with such occasions in the future. Did anyone in that gathering know what he meant?

It would be nice – just for Christmas – to call a truce on the Campaign to Hide From & Bamboozle the Public, would it not? So in that spirit, The Slog offers this drivel-free feedback at the end of its first year:

THANKYOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT, AND A MERRY CHRISTMAS

There may be other Slogposts, and there may not.

This is because I need some feedback from the garage as to whether they can tow us to the main road or not. And from AA Roadwatch about whether the route we’re taking is now under five feet of permafrost or not.

I tried to get feedback from the Council about whether (a) the Recycling Men would be back in 2010 and (b) when our road would be gritted, if ever. But that was always going to be a wasted exercise.

AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR

The Editor