While back in London in December, I spent about six million pounds just on travelling on the tube. Or at least, it felt like it. The Oyster Card was well used. Lots of urban sketchers sketch on their urban transport systems, so I of course had to do some as well. Being a Londoner of course and therefore absolutely terrified at the thought of interaction with any other person, I usually sketched when the tube was near empty. I am from the Northern Line, Edgware Branch, that was my highway. Years ago, before the trains very nicely started telling me where I was, I could tell I was getting closer to home because of the way the stations were painted – Hendon Central was sky blue, Colindale was yellow – ah, red! Burnt Oak. Time to get off and get some fried chicken. They’re all painted the same now, though the signs help.
Trains still stop inexplicably outside Golders Green for like, ten minutes though. “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of the tube stopping for no reason whatsoever outside Golders Green for ages,” as Johnson once said.
Someone enjoyed watching those dot matrix displays on the underground train (above). I remember when they brought those in, that was nice, and nowadays they even work! He got to know the voice that announces the stations very well (“this station is Belsize Park. This train terminates at Morden, via Bank“). Best of all though was the ‘Mind the Gap’ announcement, which in many places is a nice gentle FYI, but in others it is still the one I remember as a kid, the booming, authoritative ‘MIND THE GAP’, which I always imagined was the voice of the Supreme Being. Yes, the one from Time Bandits.
I do miss the Tube sometimes. Even after so many years and years of it annoying the hell out of me, even though certain ticket office staff seem to deliberately make an effort to be unhelpful, even though it’s overcrowded and unreliable and ridiculously expensive…um, sorry I forgot what I was talking about.