Wednesday, September 29, 2004

The London Underground

(Mass Transit System)


You've all heard of the London Underground, and some of you may even have been to parties where costumes must be worn named after its stations (e.g.wear a grey mac and scratch your crotch a lot for 'Holburn'). But what is this modern marvel of subterranean transport really like? The London Underground (or 'Tube') was first invented in 1842 as a way of discreetly sending loud/smelly/insane people away from the centre. As numbers of these people grew, they decided to let normal people on too. Although not many, as you can still witness today.

Friends of mine report having seen the following characters on the Underground: Prince, disguisedas a small Jewish man, moving around all the sleeping people on the carriage and making 'Gollum noises' in their ears; a particularly bad magician rehearsing his card tricks, many of which resulted in the spraying of cards all round the carriage; and a dead man. Although this last one may just havebeen the driver.

This leads me to those all important people who are required to aim thatjoystick in a straight line and press "Go!" (tricky after a night out) - the tube train 'drivers'. Unless you travel on the Jubilee line of course, which has no drivers. These space-age trains allow the punter to sit right at the front of the carriage and pretend to be the driver (I'd recommend a'Fischer-Price Kiddie-Go stick on steering wheel', and a bum bag with '£5 per person' written on it to confuse the tourists). The amount of trust put in these driverless trains really is quite odd, taking into account how often a Scalextric car flies off the track in one lap (and yes, I do imagine someone in a control tower squeezing one of those 'gun' things to make the train go round). That said, they are fun and they look cool!

Once you emerge from the Underground and decide to go for a wander, you quickly discover that all the places you've been to previously on the tube,are actually within 5 minutes walk of each other. This is because London is actually 4 miles square (the Underground lines were designed by Erno Rubik, as you can see through the choice of colours used for the different lines). Having made this discovery, you will quickly go off using the tube.

The day they invent a tube that is smaller (less room for weirdos), that can go to any part of London, is positioned on top of land (less stuffy and dark), and has a bell you can push when you want to stop, is the day I'll start using the Underground again. Until that day, I think I'll just walk.



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