Monday 9 November 2009

Travelling souls

I stood on a very crowded northbound Piccadilly line train last week with my head phones in and my cross face on. I was feeling grumpy about the lady who was insisting on crouching down next to me for no obvious reason and had her head in my back and the guy next to me who kept shifting about and saying sorry for bashing me- don't be sorry just stand still I thought.

I don’t know if it was my exposure to the mystical, magical and very friendly Cornish coast recently or the wise words of Marcus Mumford in my ears but as the train driver announced that mind the doors didn’t mean hold the doors my agitation completely subsided. I realised that the tube I was on was carrying hundreds of souls and that they were probably all as difficult to know anything about from looking at their outer shell as mine was. Of course they all hated being pressed up so closely, the lady probably didn’t mean to have her head in my back and the man didn’t mean to bash me or he wouldn’t keep apologising. I felt lots of love for the hot, sweaty tube too- for carrying us to our destinations safely- so many important hearts and minds- even if those hearts or minds were only important to one other living thing- hurtling along those dark, Victorian tunnels.

These thoughts aren’t especially original. Of course it stands to reason that you cannot judge a book by his cover or a woman by her shoes. Likewise although the tube it’s at once hot and harbouring the most chilling arctic winds; it’s often closed and somewhere you might like to leave your sense of smell at the ticket barriers, it really is what gets most of the city moving to the pubs, gigs, cinemas, fancy and not so fancy restaurants, to work, home, to friends and even to far away lands. It carries us through ancient earth as it carried our ancestors before us and it will probably carry on carrying people long after us, even if it will most likely still be mostly closed all of the weekend…

Poster above from the London Transport Museum shop here.


Top Bird @ Wee Birdy said...

So very true. I'm rarely in a good mood on the tube and resent having to stand when sturdy, healthy businessmen are hogging all the seats, but at times I look around and think how little we know/think about other people.

Bloody tube, so bloody London! xx

Metropolitan Mum said...

Now that I only take the tube on Saturdays for my trips sans bebe, I got to enjoy it. It's so much quicker than a cab, and much cheaper, too. But when I was still a city girl, I hated the tube that much, I preferred an hourly ride on my scooter to work.

You might enjoy this one:
Careful, strong language included.

The Daily Connoisseur said...

I had a lot of time to ponder these very things when I rode the Paris metro for six months (it took me an hour to get to class!).

Beautifully written...

skirmishofwit said...

What a coincidence - I saw a mug the other day that had that London Transport poster on it - I thought it was adorable! Your post has certainly inspired me to do my best to be more forgiving of rush hour commuters.

Rose said...

Hi TopBird- no it's true. The people who look so grey and perhaps dull might be award winning concert pianists or working on their next novel. I like the mystery. Since this episode I have been playing guess what the person does- it's quite fun!

Hi MM- the tube at the weekend is a lot better- when it's working of course- there's room to breathe and sit and look at the lovely tiles at the different stations.

Hi Daily- thank you *blushes* The Paris Metro is even better for people watching- there some absolute eccentrics on there in my experience. Old ladies with red lips and hermes scarves, thugs, chic men, bag men, those scary policement with dogs. Ah Paris- when will we meet again?

Hi Skirmishofwit- I don't forgive them all the time, just some of the time. I'm very fond of the transport museum shop- I discovered it a little tipsy and went mad for all the retro posters and goodies. One day when I have a house those posters will get to live on a wall of their own.