Commissioner for Transport For London Peter Hendy is no stranger to controversy. After proposals for the capital's Vertical Bus scheme in 2003 he found the sharp end of an deranged social activist's bb gun; costing him an eye and the custody of his children. The buses failed due to the existence of bridges and despite Hendy's emotionally charged outburst in the House of Commons to blow them all up the buses were subsequently scrapped and dumped in a lay-by in Hackney.
However, his latest scheme is set to go ahead.
Hendy plans to Americanize all public literature and speaker system messages within eye and earshot on the London Underground and have this completed by Februrary 2010.
"People have called this a diabolical denial of our own culture," Hendy said to me yesterday, "but we want to do our upmost to ensure that our future transport fully incorporates the atmosphere of a bad eighties science-fiction movie".
Soundbites currently proposed for the tube include "This is Angel, y'all, have a nice day", "Welcome to Lie-sester Square", and "Oh no! The King is Cross at St. Pancreas." They are currently being recorded by a cast of American actors at Guildford School of Music, which has been mobbed today by angry protesters, BNP members along for the fight, and several The Omen enthusiasts who just want to see the cathedral.
80 million American tourists are lost in London every August and Hendy believes that this scheme will be effective in culling the trend. Additionally, "it will help people from Asia, who have learnt the language from American films". But is this a sacrifice of our lingual heritage? Are we really that hard to understand?
Nora Berk, leader the opposition club 'Angry Tunnels', believes that the English accent is perfectly easy for foreigners to decipher, complaining that if she now wants to "go up the apples and pears for a how's your father with the dog and bone" then she will not continue to use the tube and strongly urge her 73 supporters to follow suite. Berk was incarcerated in 1992 over the abduction of Hollywood actress Michelle Pfeiffer and released two years later to achieve a short-lived pop career before entering the fray of social defence.
However, following a recent opion poll by the tabloids the majority of Londoners believe that if this scheme goes ahead, then commuting on the London Underground will sure be a lot more dandy and swell.