Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Going Underground

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???

I'm so sorry. I'm tired and grumpy.


elif said...

haha i like your stuff. yeah well i guess public transportation is similar around the world.tho i can say that the busses or subways in europe aren't usually as jam packed as our ones. apart from that, i can say that i hate elderly fat women standing next to my seat pushing their breasts against my head hoping that i will offer them my seat. i don't do that unless they are old.

i think passed by piccadilly on my way to chester when i was in england last year. i loved the area. and nobody was forcing their way into the train.

cheers from a country far far away :)

Little Bird said...

Oooo he's angry today. What's the matter Fweng?

When I lived in London I gave up on the tube, the bus was much more pleasant, either that or it was waiting on the platform until I could get a seat. The stress of it all drove me North.

thegirl said...

Numbers 3 to 20 - yup.

Number 1 - oh god yes, what the fuck is that about?!

Number 2 - no, no and NO. Selfish pigs the lot of you. Yes, YOU. Stop it. Now. I mean it.

luna said...

Tell me about it.Took the tube for the first time yesterday this year and bitterly regretted this abysmal decision.
Four quid to stand for ten minutes and be squashed and trampled for twenty,sweating and stressing,only to come out ten full minutes AFTER my normal bus had arrived.
Plus lost my favourite sweater in the scrum.
If anyone reading this has found a coffee brown sweater with long sleeves,wide stripes of orange green and yellow,and a rolldown collar between Holborn and Mile End
please leave a comment.


(In kind)

Joie de Vivre said...

"I spent a chunk of last Saturday with Phil, dissecting what annoys us most about the tube. We talked for about 17 hours..."

and you wonder why you aint getting laid?

ok, number 8 actually made me miss the tube. its like being asked about Reading (literally, "reading" not redding) by yanks on the BR.

i agree with thegirl, number 2 is selfish and ive always assumed they do it to pretend they have a big willy.

Number 1 used to kill me! Everyone wants to be french, and it sucks (tube related)

Huw said...

I came barging out of the tube the other day, elbows swinging to catch any of those gits who just try and push on as soon as the door opens. At the last moment, some woman pushed her offspring ahead of her, so desperate to get him on before anyone else. I'm afraid to say I clonked the little blighter a good'un on his temple, emitting from him a squeal. That's war for you though, I guess.

Fussy Bitch said...

Capitalised, bold and underlined?

Oooh, the bitch is back! ;-)

la fille mariée said...

Ooooooh. I knew that #2 would have The Girl commenting. I don't have strong feelings either way about splayed legs... but I'm going to have to come down on her side (like I'm being asked to take sides). Really... there's just no reason for the splaying of the legs.

I loved how you finished the post with an apology. :)

fwengebola said...

Elif ~ Welcome. Turkey. You're in Turkey, aren't you.
Or maybe Germany...
LB ~ I can't believe the tube drove you north. I should be hanging out with polar bears by now.
TG ~ Oh come on. Don't tell me you don't want to be sitting opposite.
Lune ~ You took the tube for the first time this year? Well done. And your reward for a lost jumper is a jumper? Why don't they just keep the old one?
JDV ~ Maybe, just maybe, I should be getting out more. And not on tubes. I've yet to hear anyone pronounce Reading as literally as you say, but then I try to avoid Reading. In the town sense.
Huw ~ He he he. Excellent. There's one kid who won't grow up to be a barger.
FB ~ I was just tired.
Wait, I still am. And now to go to martial arts...
LFM ~ Surely you'd love the splaying. Unless you're sitting next to a splayer.

elif said...

Thanks! Yup, I'm from Turkey, Istanbul.

me said...

i like the way you get crosser and crosser, with the full blown tantrum followed by a tired and emotional disclaimer at the end. very funny.

and no.11 counts just about anywhere (especially on the beach when i am trying to build sandcastles with the children - you know who you are.. but i doubt you have the good taste to read this blog)

Shoshana said...

You have armrests??? See - that's point #1 where the London tube is better than NY subways - they sure don't offer us those luxuries.

Quote said...

I've never had a problem with The London Underground in all the approximately fifty times I've ever used it.

always Kris said...

This made me laugh. I could 'feel' the tension and 'hear' your fingers as they typed this out.

Luckily, I dont have to ride Underground. I tried to when I was there, got lost...but that was in Paris, had to find police to help us find our hotel...great...American tourists...I am sure we looked stupid...because we were!

Matt said...

Fantastic. I ride the Tube every day at peak time... and can sympathise with every single one of those.

Denim Boy said...

Oh Fweng, I've missed reading your rants. I wanted to come up with something witty about the tube, but all I can manage is: The underground is a cunt's service run by cunts and used by cunts.

fwengebola said...

elif ~ Günaydın. Otogar nerede?
me ~ Welcome. And oh stop. You don't need good taste to read this blog. Just manic depression.
Shosh ~ As I recall, your seats are also hard plastic. And I will find out for certain in THREE DAYS.
Quote ~ Thank you for popping in to point that out. I welcome opposing opinions. However, You Were Lucky.
AK ~ It wasn't hard to miss. I was mashing the keyboard with my fists. The Gendarmes are there for American tourists. They're certainly not there for the locals. Just ask any Algerians living in Paris.
Matt ~ The trick is to remain silent at all times and not make eye-contact with anyone. You are allowed to sigh though.
DB ~ Ah, the prodigal poof returns and is calling me a cunt.
I concur.

Waynecoff said...

I was just thinking while reading that, maybe we could do with a tube cerial killer, it would cut down the ammount of people that use it, and may give them time to do a few repairs.
If Denim boy has ever used the tube then that makes him a cunt too.
Also I quite like cunts as you can have sex with them, so DB that makes quite a bit of cunt for me.

fwengebola said...


Quote said...

Yes. I'm sure luck has a lot to do with it. But I do love the London Underground.

I love how simple it is and how the map makes sense and the number of different languages you hear on it and how people fall asleep on it and how you know exactly how many stops there are and how it's underground.

I even love the fact that sometimes it stops for no apparent reason.

I know that some people who use it smell. I know that it's probably a nightmare on the hottest day of the year. But I don't use it very often.

Maybe it's just a classic case of familiarity breeding contempt?

fwengebola said...

I tell you what: I'm in New York. They don't have armrests and all seats are hard plastic. We're all travelling first class in comparison. But my rants still stand.