Whatever else you might think of Spandau Ballet and their enduring, um, ballet True it’s a fairly calming piece of music. Which makes its interruption with some shocking jolts of speedcore thrash electrifyingly unpleasant in this new advert for Virgin Trains, which attempts to juxtapose the misery of a car journey with the unfettered nirvana of paying £879 for a return ticket to London, probably.
I like trains, but absolutely no-one is convincing me that – in the majority if situations – jumping in the car isn’t a more pleasant commuting experience than getting the train. Not only that, it’s massively cheaper too, the cost of modern train travel being one of the enduring myths of our time on a par with the apparent popularity of Russell Howard.
In this regard the cognitive dissonance between how train travel is presented – sipping a coffee in a deserted carriage while bucolia flashes by outside at 200mph – with the cramped, grinding reality of standing-room only misery would be laughable if it weren’t so depressing. Every train journey I’ve endured recently has consisted of desperately trying to get a signal on my phone so I didn’t have to stare right into the face of a stranger three inches from my own and trying to ignore the smell from the toilet.
On the flipside, while I don’t enjoy commuting I get a great deal out of driving cars in my own time. I like the freedom, the time alone with my thoughts, radio or a podcast, the comfort. And I like the door-to-door nature of it. It’s easier, it’s cheaper – and it’s much more affordable than our shambolic, privatised and cripplingly expensive train network. If anything the misery of modern train travel reminds me of the pneumatic drill of relentless 200bpm audio apocalypse. Take the car Valerie, at least you can listen to Pop Master.