Live from the tube


I blog to you this morning live from the Piccadilly Line, London.

It is not a smooth experience. Clearly the train driver is experiencing a certain reluctance at his compulsion to work on the Saturday before Easter. Either he is grouchy, or impatient, or he wants to bring a little extra excitement to his life and ours. Whatever his motivation, we have covered the distance between Hounslow and Osterley with the swiftness, if not the comfort, of the winged messenger himself.

And every now and then the train stops and the electronic budgies twitter and a grave lady reminds everyone to Mind The Gap.

There must be five languages rattling on in my part of the carriage alone, a festive Saturday morning Babel hurtling towards Boston Manor at a rate of knots.

There is a uniform, though. Everyone wears jeans, those indigo talismans against the unseasonable temperatures. We rattle past allotment gardens and the little housetops, colleges and car parks, satellites and suburbia.

I have 12 stations to pass before I change for Westminster and the Banqueting House; and the enforced sit-down is rather novel. Already, the train is at standing room only and filled with murmurs of happy anticipation. Everyman has his day’s itinerary, and each of ours is different.

Here we sit, very British, together yet apart, thrown from side to side at the whim of our gung-ho guide through the underworld.


40 thoughts on “Live from the tube

    1. Thanks πŸ™‚ Lovely route: straight from Heathrow into the heart of London. I walked out of the British Museum and got strraight onto a train which took me, without any changes, straight back to my car.

  1. Loved this, Kate. I’m amazed by the squeally, screechy deafening noise of a ride on the Piccadilly line. Last time we were there, we were in darkness for a good three or four minutes until the driver remembered to turn the lights on… πŸ™‚

    I’m fascinated by Tube behaviour…. how people just do *not* talk or look at each other. One can irritated one’s fellow passenger quite easily by idly reading his newspaper.

    The rule of thumb seems to be to shut out other people by concentrating very hard on a phone, a tablet, a book, a newspaper or to shut one’s eyes and pretend no-one else is there. Why is this? Is it fear or lack of interest in your fellow man?

    I just can’t imagine people behaving like that in Wales. They’d be nattering nineteen to the dozen.

    1. Four minutes of darkness in one of those tunnels is not for the faint hearted, Jan!
      I think there is quite a marge proportion of people on a tube train who are mad-as-a-box-of-frogs. I bet if someone did a statistical exercise there would be more MAABOFs per 100 of the population in a London tube carriage than anywhere else. Course everyone gets on and off so quickly it would be hard to carry out such an exercise.

      1. Laughing here…. sounds so wonderfully Cod Scientific. One could almost stand on the platform with a clipboard and just ask people… course you’d have to have MAABOF in at least ten languages πŸ˜€

  2. Kate, this is a perfect description of some of the rides I’ve experienced by bus and cab … “…thrown from side to side at the whim of our gung-ho guide through the underworld.” Gave me a chuckle.

  3. I thought they’d stopped the ‘Mahnd the gap!’ thing. Has it started again?
    I found Tchoob travel great fun. My Express Worm in Baa was based on it. Even to the stations, like the one where two kings got annoyed with one another, and another where you can hear the permanent circus music as you pass a river crossing for oxen.

  4. Travelling in from Heathrow is always a challenge, even for plane-spotters. It’s a very long ride out there with so many stations on the way. It’s not a lot better by car either – if that helps!

    1. To me the route was a revelation, Martin, because I have traditionally taken the Reading-Waterloo line. And I feel sure you will know what that means. I can park at Hatton Cross and be at the British Museum within the hour, and for me that’s revolutionary!

  5. Wow, I would never blog from the New York City subway even if I had a smart phone. It’s a very aggressive environment and I. Just. Wouldn’t. Risk. It. Life is so much more civil on your side of the pond Kate.

      1. Trains are often very crowded and fellow passengers very cranky out here, Kate. Since I’m a fan of self-preservation, I try to avoid doing anything that might draw attention to myself.

  6. You make it sound very interesting. I do like train travel, although I don’t have regular access. I like to people watch. Hope you had a great day, but I would assume you enjoyed your many observations! πŸ™‚

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