Going underground

I love the London Underground. The map, the posters, the slightly unnerving feeling that the Central Line train is coming into the station a little bit too fast and the relief that no one has thrown themselves on the tracks. My love for the network is not sullied by having to use it all the time – I don’t use the Tube to get to work. It is hard to love something you regularly travel in conditions that would be unacceptable for the transportation of cattle.

Fortunately, I’m not alone in my love for LU (as it is affectionately called by Tube nerds). The Underground has spawned a publishing empire and you could easily accommodate a small library of books on this surprisingly wide subject. Once in a while, a non-fiction book comes along that is an absolute joy to read. Once in a longer while, this book will be about the Tube.

Continue reading “Going underground”

A Gregg-ular Kind of Guy

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!”

Continue reading “A Gregg-ular Kind of Guy”