Up until last summer, I had spent the last three years at Lancaster University. When travelling back home to the south, however, it was not only overpriced rail tickets that gave me a headache. It was the London Underground. Now, for anyone who has seen An American Werewolf in London (the film), you will be aware of the scene in which a man is brutally butchered to death on one of the escalators. To me, this is not too far from the truth.
My other half works in London and is aware of commuting etiquette. This usually means that whilst I am making sure my body parts are to remain intact whilst battling against a million others, he is frequently shouting “keep left!” as if we are soldiers in the Crimean war. He formulates a plan in his head. Must get on the train first, must acquire table seat, must claim baggage rack before anyone else can. This is the man who once nearly floored a woman with his briefcase on the way home.
This weekend, however, was a disaster so far as tube travel is concerned. We had the perfect romantic getaway planned. We were to see a gig at the 02 and go back to our beautiful hotel in Greenwich before checking out the next day and experiencing the museums. It had been booked for months and should have been the easiest journey of all. So why did we end up at midnight on a Sunday, stuck in the middle of Lewisham without a way to get home? It was decided that this weekend was when they would close the Docklands Light Railway, thus leaving many people clueless about how to get around. I was enraged.
Truth is this sort of rage lives in everyone that has to commute every day. I recently came across a fantastic website purely for this purpose, aptly-titled Ihatelondonunderground.com. Full of rants about ticket prices, their least favourite tube lines (Jubilee wins hands down) and how they’re going to move country just to avoid it all, it is a forum for commuters to let off steam about their journeys, possibly making them even angrier.
Let’s face it; no one wants to fight against a crowd of people at 7am to stand in a compartment of a train that is essentially an oven on wheels, with a stranger’s elbow in their face that has not yet discovered the magic of soap and water. There is also something distinctly wrong about a place that is so dirty it makes your snot black.
I don’t think I will ever be a fan of the London Underground. Mind you, we British do like a good moan. I certainly look forward to the Olympics.