So far, I have heard Boris say “Hi folks” whilst waiting for trains at Blackheath. I’ve heard him say “Hi folks” as I interchange at London Bridge. I’ve heard him say “Hi folks” at Charing Cross whilst making my way to the underground. I’ve heard “Hi folks” as I scurried through at least three tube stations.
And I could just about get by with the occasional grumble on Twitter to maintain my sanity. But today, after hearing it three times at three different stations, I took a bus to Sainsbury’s. The bus was full. It was too hot. Everybody was standing. And then, along came the aristocratic old Etonian who read Classics at Oxford calling me his “folk”.
I’m not his folk, and he isn’t mine. I never will be. It was only on the bus when I realised what a disaster the “Hi folks” recorded messages are. They make you feel as though you are living in a police state. I feel like I’m being told how to think, without any control over when I hear it. It’s the same message everywhere, and it doesn’t change. It’s relentless. And it’s starting to terrify me.
I realise that we live in a democracy, and that we’re lucky to do so. But playing the announcements everywhere with such ease demonstrates that most of the equipment is in place to remove our democracy at any time. All the machinery necessary to tell you how to feel, and what to think is sitting there, and is ready to go. And that scares the life out of me.
And it’s weird, because that Tannoy system has probably been set up for years, but I’d never noticed it until I heard it on the bus for the fourth time today.