Today I was that person who shouts ‘can you move down please!!’ whilst trying to cram myself, my handbag and my laptop bag onto an already crowded train.
You can hear the chuntering ‘there’s no more space’ and you can see the eye rolls and those ignoring you as they happily stand in their 20inch square of space in the aisle between the seats. You know the one, that part of the train where people DON’T MOVE DOWN!
I can only imagine them thinking, ‘If I move forward I won’t have anywhere to hold onto’, as I know that I’ve thought this before in their position.
Well how about squishing in like us folk crammed in like cattle between the doors and you too can be held up by the arses of the men next to you!?
I can feel my stress levels rising already and I only left the house 10 minutes ago.
I’ve managed to get on the train.
The woman in front faked some sort of almost fall, to make a point, as everyone pushed and shoved. A minute into the journey I realise I didn’t say thank you.
I am mortified… is it too late? Do I say thanks now?
I try to smile at everyone around me and give a knowing shrug and say ‘London life eh?!’
One woman smiles with me, another glares.
We get to Clapham and people need to get off and I’m stuck in that position in the middle of the door… do I get off first and risk not being let back on, or do I move from left to right as people push past me making sure they get off before the train moves on?
I opt for the latter and seconds later there is space… space to get my book out my bag rather than standing like a penguin on one leg whilst imagining I’m on a tightrope to not fall over.
I move over to the other side… where I know I need to be to get off at the next stop.
It’s all about being prepared.
Knowing where to get on and off trains for best exit at the other end. That’s the secret.
Always remember the tube signs aren’t your friends, they are there to trick you… Don’t even get me started on what entrance to use at King’s Cross.
You need a master degree to be able to outsmart their signage that sends you to Camden and back walking underground just to get to your tube from the station. All this to make sure there is no overcrowding!
Yes because when I finally get to the Victoria line it’s empty, and I smoothly walk onto an uncrowded platform, and uncrowded tube… yer… right?! That worked!!?? (It’s still overcrowded by the way in case you didn’t get my sarcasm).
FYI: You can get to the Victoria line from Kings Cross by one simple escalator… turn left, when they say right, when going in the entrance nearest platforms 1-6. Easy as pie!
Anyway I digress, I get off at Vauxhall, right by the stairs to move down into the station and onto the tube. Preparation!
The rest of my journey isn’t too bad, I’m too embarrassed to shout ‘move down’ again on the tube, so I wait patiently for the next tube, then over compensate by letting everyone around me onto the next tube first and end up having to wait for the next next tube. It’s ok… once I’m on I’m only crammed in for four stops before it eases up, and I almost always get a seat for the remaining nine stops. I was only tucked under someone’s armpit, whilst my face is squished against the door for a few minutes, no bother.
Now, bliss! I sit down, I get out my book and I savour these moments of calm before a busy day of work begins.
A couple of stops in and I’m asleep and I’m soon awoken by the kind lady next to me telling me I’m at the end of the line. Luckily, in this case… the end of the line is my stop. Phew!
I wipe off the dribble on my chin, reapply my lipstick and march out the station like the sophisticated Londoner I am.
I am currently living in London mid-week for a short contract and though I lived here for 8 years I can categorically say ‘I am not a Londoner anymore’. I’m a country girl, and though I will always love this city, living here is no longer for me.