29 October 2010
A few days ago I had to catch the tube during the rush hour and was stuffed in a carriage along with dozens of other commuters. A period of abstinence does make you realise how amazing it is that millions of people are transported everyday under London. If you are lucky enough to get a seat you can look round and see all sorts of little stories going on - people absorbed in studying; reading newspapers, novels, bibles; listening to music or playing games; crossword puzzles being solved; serious napping, sometimes snoring; pets on display (I've seen pet rats and pythons); arguments; doe-eyed adoration; occasional knitting or sewing; families on half term outings; tourists looking perplexed. You can read poems on the underground or be entertained or harassed by buskers. You can wonder at how there can possibly be so very many different permutations of noses, eyes, hairstyles so that no two people ever look the same. Or you can just sit in your own little world, a hiatus between where you've been and where you are going, with nobody to disturb you. It's often warm, occasionally windy, and sometimes wet - I'm sure there is a stream somewhere in Shadwell station for there is the constant sound of running water. There have been the most horrendous tragedies, but for the most part, the underground is just buzzing with something that is London all over.
I could hardly believe it, but I'd been missing it.