Sunday 31 December 2006

What could possibly go wrong?

For as long as I can remember, my catchphrase has been ‘What could possibly go wrong?’ With the addition of the word ‘now’ at the end, it is the perfect line for cheering up one’s fellow passengers as the plane hurtles down the runway. But it is not merely designed to irritate: it is quite simply the most important question anyone in business can ask themselves. Imagine how different the fate of GNER might have been if they had thought through the possible downsides when they framed their winning franchise bid.

Although there have been times when I have cursed them, GNER were undoubtedly the best of the privatised train operators, and their recently advertised departure was perhaps the saddest news of 2006. Vying only with the non-departure of Anthony Charles Lynton Blair, the Captain Mainwaring of Downing Street. His demise has come to resemble one of those never-ending death scenes played by a comic great of the 1960s: Eric Morecambe, Frankie Howerd or Tommy Cooper. Or maybe Bernie Winters: the one who wasn’t actually funny. Will he go in 2007? I’m not holding my breath. And what a shame his replacement won’t be genial Sgt Wilson or even the boy Pike, but brooding Private Frazer.

Originally published in The Journal, Newcastle upon Tyne.

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