Going underground


Week Six is on the horizon. This means, for many humanities students at least, just one thing. Reading week. Also known as chocolate bourbons and daytime telly week, it is that little ray of sunshine that means you are half-way through the term. The sensible among us, of course, will choose to utilise these five days of freedom for the writing of a dissertation chapter, a little light revision, or perhaps even some reading. Many, however, will be journeying home for a week of liver-recuperation after the 15 Hour Bar Crawl and to reunite themselves with the joy of a sofa and a bath.

Travelling home for me, means braving the London Underground. Now, for anyone that has seen An American Werewolf in London (the film, not an actual wolf) will be aware of the scene where a man is nearly butchered to death on one of the escalators. To me, this is not too far from the truth. Now, my boyfriend works in London he is what you would refer to as a commuter and this means he knows the etiquette. This means that whilst I am making sure my body parts are to remain intact whilst battling against a million others, he is frequently shouting “keep left!”. Each step is like some sort of MI5 mission. Must get on the train first, must acquire table seat, must claim baggage rack before anyone else can. This is the man who once nearly floored a woman with his briefcase on the way home.

Truth is, this sort of rage and ruthlessness lives in everyone who has to commute. I recently came across a fantastic website purely for this purpose, aptly-titled Ihatelondonunderground.com. Full of rants about ticket prices, their least favourite tube lines (Jubilee wins hands down) and how they’re going to move country just to avoid it all, it is a forum for commuters to let off steam about their journeys, possibly making them even angrier.

Amateur transplants also sang about the underground, cleverly set to the tune of  The Jam’s Going Underground, it documents everything about the tube that makes it so…well, shit. Let’s face it, no one wants to fight against a crowd of people at 7am to stand in a compartment of a train that is essentially an oven on wheels, with a stranger’s elbow in their face that has not yet discovered the magic of soap and water. There is also something distinctly wrong about a place that is so dirty it makes your snot black.

I don’t think I will ever be a fan of the underground and I’m sure the journey home in Week Six will only remind me of this. Still, my boyfriend is meeting me at Euston- so at least I’ll know what side of the escalator to stand on.

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