Persons Of Interest, Uncategorized

Adventures On The London Underground

Your twenties are for travelling, especially the early years. I have been told on good authority that during the latter part you reconnect with your parents, have a more adult relationship with them, and start a family. I’ll let you know about that when I get there. For now, I have joined the millions of other uber-cool twenty- somethings, waved my parents goodbye at the departure gate, and headed for Europe. Currently lost somewhere amongst the crowds of Australians, I am living in London.
Of course, feeling I was incredibly sophisticated and original, and having digested all that the Lonely Planet guide had to offer, I have arrived. I have “played tourist”, which is to say, I am far too cool to actually be one, though the lost expression, the armfuls of merchandise and the map close to hand are all dead giveaways. I have noticed that one must never openly consult a map, except perhaps the tube map, (even seasoned Londoners require that on occasion), and asking for directions will get you vague pointing and bored, contemptuous expressions from the locals. Watch out for that one: they manage to use them like deadly assault weapons, bringing even the most confident, self-assured to a faltering stop.
That is not to say that the locals are unfriendly, it’s more that everyone else from anywhere else is simply more friendly. Having been pressed into an old mans smelly armpit on the tube for ten minutes, one begins to understand why. The average Londoner has less personal space than your average capital city dweller, so they simply begin to pretend that you, and everything outside of what they are focused on, has ceased to exist. It’s almost Zen in its philosophy, a kind of meditative state. To test this, try making conversation on the tube and see how far you get. A word of warning: do not try this with people grinning inanely. There are in fact people who have lived and bred in the Underground since the Blitz, who prey on unsuspecting foreigners and others foolish enough to return their smiles. They can actually be quite sneaky. I have been told by a friend that one sat down next to her on the Piccadilly Line (also known as “the blue one”) and surreptitiously, ever so gently began to hold her hand. By the time she realised the creature that was insinuating its way into her space, eye contact had to be made, and it was nearly all over for her. She only escaped by reading them a column from the London Lite. For some reason, they hate hearing about the up- world as they call it. True story.
Do not, however, allow that to put you off the tube system. Eyes do meet, love is found on the Underground. I have on occasion found myself in the “unfortunate” position of having to stand very close to one of those gorgeous men that wear suits all day and delicious cologne. In fact, on one exceptional ride home (probably from one of London’s many free museums), I found myself sandwiched between two such creatures. I didn’t know where to look, and I had to be careful not to grin like a maniac in case they took me for one of the crazed tube dwellers and crushed the life out of me between them for the good of the country and rail patrons everywhere. Still there are worse ways to die…
No, the Tube offers you a world of adventures. Down that escalator you go and the next thing you know you could be on your way, whizzing through the dark to “Elephant & Castle” or living it up on the Jubilee line, with your free paper and an attractive person of the opposite sex (or not if that’s your preference) pressed against your back. That’s more than most people in the world could expect from their day.


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