If, like me, you wondered why today’s Google Doodle was a Tube map but didn’t have enough time to find out why, let me tell you. It was because today the London Underground celebrated it’s 150th birthday. I surely can’t be the only one who finds this incredible?
One hundred and fifty years of that rush of warm air sweeping through the stations. A century and a half of that instantly recognisable musty, yet comforting, smell. What stories those beautiful historic Art Deco stations must hold? Their more modern counterparts hinting at stories yet to unfold.
When I lived in London about ten years ago I used the Tube pretty much everyday and (most of the time) I loved it. When I return to the big smoke I can’t help but chuckle at the Londoners who whinge about their transport system. They seriously don’t know how good they’ve got it! The Tube has a fantastic network, runs late and is extremely regular. Try getting around any other area in the UK as easily and you’ll be in for a shock! If you miss your Tube train you’ve probably got a wait of approximately three minutes. If I miss my bus I’m likely to have a wait of (at best) twenty minutes.
All of London life is on the Tube, from the straight-laced business people to those who are, well, bonkers. Some of my favourite Tube memories are of those bonkers people… The Big Issue seller at Stockwell who was offering commuters a free lightbulb with every magazine purchased. A fellow male commuter who accessorised his manly face and lumberjack shirt with a denim mini skirt and a metallic clutch bag. The guy who sat next to me… eating his newspaper. But as well as the weirdo’s you’ve got those sorts of people who you just don’t get on public transport anywhere else… when was the last time you saw an actor reading a script on a Travel West Midlands bus?
I did once fall down an escalator at a Tube station. That wasn’t a high point. Rushing out of work in Southgate I deployed the standard Londoner tactic of walking down the escalator in order to get home more quickly, before I knew it the front of my pointy-toed boots got caught in the turn-up of my trousers and unable to free it I found myself doing forward rolls down the length of the escalator. I got to the bottom and was picked up by an old lady. Utterly embarrassed I dusted myself off, told her I was fine and hobbled onto the train. I wasn’t fine. I’d cut my leg and it hurt…lots. I learnt an important lesson that day… more haste, more pain.
Despite that I still love getting the Tube when I go to London, in fact it’s one of the main things I miss about living there and for that reason I would like to wish it a very happy birthday indeed.
What are your experiences of using the Tube?