Stephen Irvine, 5 April 2012
The asylum teemed with the grey-faced and the hopeless; shuffling cardboard cut-outs no longer able to communicate with the world at large, each believing themselves completely alone despite taking their place in the most intense of throngs. To attempt to shatter their sense of isolation with the mallet of conversation was tantamount to waving into blind eyes. The uninitiated found whatever solace they could from scraps of newspaper, clinging to any available appendage so as to avoid being swept away in the tidal-wave of antipathy sloshing through the heat of the narrow room. It was Monday morning. I was on the tube.
The first voice I heard since I’d boarded came seconds after the doors slammed shut on the ill-tempered sardines, a calm and clear tone proclaiming “The London Underground; the most expensive in the world!” This seemed like a strange marketing policy from TFL, hardly the kind of announcement to raise spirits in between sweaty stops. But wait – this was no employee, this man was here to deliver a socio-economic sermon to the sleepy, and I for one was keen for some more facts about the capital’s transport infrastructure. Unfortunately I was to be frustrated as his argument rather lost its way with his next point: “David Cameron – terrorist. Arab-murderer!”