That glistening subterranean metropolis, the planet's first underground railway with 253 miles of shimmering, flawless steel, a masterstroke of Victorian ingenuity that envisaged two tracks per line - one for each direction - as those foresighted planners knew damn well that any future traveller wishing to traverse London at 3am will clearly have no moral fibre so isn't worth catering for, unlike those dastardly New Yorkers with their four-track 'subway' and their ability to repair one set while the other still operates.
The London Underground is about as trustworthy as a politician in a brothel. Yet it has become one big hideously over-expensive social experiment with delays, a place for people from all four corners of the Earth to get squashed in eerie silence, a silence broken only by the ghostly, disembodied words of an irate cockney driver telling everyone to 'Keep out the way of the sodding doors'.
I spent a chunk of last Saturday with Phil, dissecting what annoys us most about the tube. We talked for about 17 hours...
20 ~ My local tube station has recently installed several huge computer-linked LCD displays to notify the travelling public when the next train's due. Sadly, it has only ever said what everone already knows; 'District Line'. Below that is the time.
It is the world's most expensive clock.
19 ~ Movement. Train comes to a sudden halt in a tunnel. A minute passes. Someone coughs. Newspapers are rustled. Two minutes. People look around the carriage, then look back at the floor. Four minutes now. Nothing is happening. Not ONE FUCKING ANNOUNCEMENT. Maybe this is because the driver is none the wiser either. But it would be nice if the driver would say so.
18 ~ And when staff do talk, it's mumbled. Or it's depressingly morose. (Aren't these people taught not to Sigh before announcing that the tube's up the spout again and please feel free to jump to your deaths when something turns up?)
17 ~ Hey, here's a thought: When the platform's full to overflowing at half eight in the morning and you are about to announce over the tannoy that you've made some awful career decisions and the next train might arrive some time this week, don't announce it just as the 8:32 Piccadilly Line to Hammersmith is roaring past in perfect syncronicity with your entire sentence, because NO-ONE CAN HEAR YOU, YOU TWAT.
16 ~ Disgarded newspapers aren't technically litter. They are actually topical missives of love left by one caring commuter for another. Employ staff to collect empty wrappers and vomit only. Actually, you can take the snooty property brochures away, thank you. They merely fill me with longing.
And then there's my fellow commuters...
15 ~ I have just missed my tube. I am now the only person on the platform. I should be wearing a large medal, and must thus be allowed on first, even if five minutes have now elapsed and I'm being jostled for space. All you cunts who've just arrived must not push me out of the way when the train turns up.
14 ~ The platforms and walkways aren't that wide. If you're in a group of 2+ people, kindly don't walk in a neat, slow blocade, as I will kill you. Or at least 'Tut' loudly.
13 ~ And if you're a large group of Belgian teenagers or simply standing with your large suitcase and staring at a map along one of those narrow walkways and looking Spanish, try not STOPPING as you'll BLOCK THE WHOLE FUCKING ROUTE.
12 ~ 'Stand on the right' isn't a fucking suggestion.
11 ~ On packed, overcrowded trains, please please please don't snog your partner. Yes, I'm sure you love each other. Yes, I'm sure it seems as if there's no-one else around you such is the giddying blanket of emotions enveloping you. But YOU ARE SO CLOSE TO ME THIS IS PRACTICALLY A THREESOME.
10 ~ I know that you're drunk, and I know that you're Australian. You've been yelling about it for the past half hour.
9 ~ Just because I'm seated between stops and can't run away doesn't mean you have carte blanche to busk/ collect for Rag Week right next to my ear. You can, however, drunkenly and attractively offer an entire carriage a chocolate brownie because "I only wanted one and they came sold in fours." (I've done this.)
8 ~ North Americans: Leicester Square is pronounced 'Lester', not Lie-ses-ter-shire.
7 ~ The 'Seat Age' is the age at which their feet make contact with the spunk on the floor. Any younger and they can sit on your fucking lap.
6 ~ When a fellow commuter sits in an empty seat next to you, shuffle. This will give the new passenger the sense that you are a courteous fellow, willing to consider the very existence of their being. Remaining motionless like a concrete shithouse merely renders you a selfish cunt.
5 ~ I have no problem offering you my seat if you're in your twilight years or up the duff. I will not offer you my seat if you're a young woman who may be pregnant but could just be fat. I'd rather appear chauvanistic than skip cheerfully into that potential minefield. And if you are really old and I happen to be sitting in the 'Priority Seat', don't bellow 'YOUNG MAN, KINDLY OFFER UP YOUR SEAT' the second your arthritic old foot has made contact with the tube. YOU DIDN'T EVEN GIVE ME THE CHANCE TO SPOT YOU, DAMMIT.
4 ~ The armrest is shared between two people. Please allow my elbow some room, and enough with taking the whole fucking thing up with your Newspaper Arm.
3 ~ Don't put your make-up on in front of me. I do not wish to see your fillings. Nor do I wish to feel so unattractive that you think you can do that in front of me because I don't count.
2 ~ Men who sit with their legs splayed apart: Carry on Sirs. I am doing likewise and it is the only time I will sit thigh-to-thigh with another man and not flinch because a) We are stubborn and b) It is our right.
1 ~ And finally, the Be-All-and-End-All of all Tube Hates ~ As absurd as I find one-upmanship just because person A was born elsewhere to person B, we're supposed to be English, dammit. Since when - and I can't emphasise this enough - since when did people start forcing their way onto the tube WHEN THE DISEMBARKING PASSENGERS HAVEN'T LEFT YET??? ARE YOU CLINICALLY FUCKING SELFISH, OR JUST FRENCH???
YOU PEOPLE ARE THE SCOURGE OF THE FUCKING PLANET, AND YOU SHOULD ALL BE SENT TO BAGHDAD IN GEORGE BUSH T-SHIRTS.
I'm so sorry. I'm tired and grumpy.