The Joys of Living in London – Commuting: pt23 min read

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William James Downing

Ahh London… Twice in one week I have a seen people throw up on the tube. TWICE! How lucky am I?! I’m actually not being sarcastic, because both times I was well away from the action. The first time it was further down the carriage and it was the morning – busy, oily, packed, grumpy and sleepy… then (everyone’s new favourite morning dwarf) sicky… I shan’t dwell on this one as the second vomiteer is the clear winner, if they handed out prizes for that sort of thing (which they really should, don’t you think?).

The second vomiteer, ah, I will always remember him fondly: A family of blonde mullets, every mullet worse than the one previous (until you realised you were going round in circles) and they decided that the best time to take a ride on the jubilee line was during rush hour in the evening. They squeezed onto the tube in front of me, meaning that I would have to wait for the next train. Beep, beep, beep, beep, beep. The train doors and the safety doors start closing, one of the mullet boys bends over in the carriage and I glimpse the start of mouth-related liquid incident – before the doors completely close, obscuring my view and the train sets off. Excellent.

Admittedly funny things do happen everyday on the commute, I even like to entertain strangers with quips and dry wit during the voyage, but most of it is boring and horrible – a real ordeal.

The Joys of Living in London - Commuting: pt2I stand in the same drab, city-defined, uniform, suits as everyone else. I stand in the spitting rain and cold wind waiting for the train to take me to Waterloo main station where more identical people are congregating. My feet have mud on them from walking across Barnes Common and I am itchy from standing so close to others. Then we are squeezed into a tube, whilst London Underground officials bellow  nonsensical, repetitive, militant and irritating commuter cliches at you from their mini-megaphones. The official blows a whistle. We stand ready. Cramped. We stand shoulder-to-shoulder, some people are mouth-breathers (as I say, some people spew); shoulder-to-shoulder, shoulder-to-shoulder, all of us smelly, shoulder-to-shoulder, shoulder-to-shoulder, we are tired but eager to get out of here. Canary Wharf. The train slows and there are a few moments of calm and silence between the halt of the train and the opening of the doors… shoulder-to-shoulder… shoulder-to-shoulder … … … Then we all charge off. Our feet moving fast but controlled, we all have our planned routes. Some people get stuck, but you don’t look back, you don’t smile, you just stare straight ahead and pour up the escalator as the white light at the top gets bigger and brighter. Who knows the horrors that will face you this day. Who are you going to see on the way back?



Cover image was originally taken by and published on Torturett Photography.
Commuting, Commuting in London, London Underground, London Travel, Transport for London, TFL,
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