Monday 9 November 2009
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.