Out of service
Thousands of rail travellers found they could not buy tickets yesterday because machines had broken down. Such infuriating failures punctuate daily life. Any computer that can fail does fail eventually, it seems, and any account that has a password can be hacked. We have grown to rely on everything working automatically and quickly. Station booking offices are so called because a man used to write your journey in a book when issuing a ticket. All that could go wrong was the man going sick or rain getting in and making the book soggy. Once, a blacksmith could mend a car; now no one can, without sending for new circuitry. Travellers used happily to wait days for a favourable wind. Now we howl for compensation at a three-hour delay. We expect more, and if anything goes wrong – we’re sunk.