Notes from West London · Word of the week

Word of the week: statioons

Our local minicab office has had a refurb. It had lain empty for a year or two but now the single-storey pair of rooms attached to a nearby house has been done up. It doesn’t appear to be open yet, but I hope it will be soon.

At the start of 2016 I wrote this piece predicting that I would not be signing up for the ride-hailing App Uber anytime soon, and explaining why. My feelings have not changed. I have never signed up for Uber. I have used local minicabs instead, and occasionally taken black cabs, though not in the last 18 months: lockdowns and Covid restrictions have changed all that.

I haven’t signed up for any takeaway delivery firms such as Deliveroo or Uber Eats either. We have had takeaway meals a few times over the last 18 months, from places like Pho, Hare & Tortoise and our local fish and chip shop, but I have collected the meals every time. I have cycled, driven or trotted home with our food.

I realize that I am in a minority here. Most of my friends have used Uber or had takeaway food delivered by someone on two wheels. I have been mildly surprised at various times to hear that people who live less than a ten-minute walk from their burger joint of choice will still have their quarter-pounders and fries delivered to them. Our nearest McDonald’s is around 7 minutes away, if I jog or cycle back. The last time I went (just before a Euro 2020 game in early July) I noticed that I was one of only two regular customers in the place. There were 17 orders listed on the board, the one that reads “Preparing…” and “Ready to collect”. 15 of them were for “Delivery Partners” (Uber Eats and the rest) and just two for people who had made their own way to the restaurant. There were 20 (yes, twenty) motorbikes outside the place ready to transport fast food to nearby residents. I might be in a decreasingly small minority of diners, but I will not be having burgers delivered to my door anytime soon, whether they’re from the Golden Arches, Byron, Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Five Guys or any of their competitors.

Anyway, back to the refurbished minicab place. There’s a new sign to replace the faded lettering (very 1970s) above the door. The windows have new signage too. Here’s part of it:

Statioons

As you can see, the cars can take you to “AIRPORTS STATIOONS HOSPITALS”. The signwriter has given “STATIONS” an extra “O”. There was a similar error on a road sign that I wrote about back in 2018: Harlesden was spelt with an “O” instead of its final “E” (“Harlesdon”). At the time I speculated about why a sign that is seen by hundreds of thousands of people every year might be misspelt in this way. The sign was commissioned, designed and created by people who are paid to do these things and none of them noticed the error. I can report that the spelling has been amended. It now reads “Harlesden” and I have no photographic evidence of how it looked before. I only ever saw the sign while driving, and am not the kind of person who uses his phone while doing so.

I’m not bothered about my local cab place misspelling the word “STATIOONS” on its signage. I will continue to use their services rather than any ride-hailing App, wherever my journeys take me: Statioons, Airpoorts, Hoospitals…

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