As filler I thought I would relay to you some stories of my journeys on “the tube” here in London.
We had checked out of our wretched hotel in Bayswater (the Blakemore, don’t believe their lie-filled website) in the morning. We left our bags to pick up later with a surly concierge. How surly? The man swore at cellotape.
We travelled to Camden via the excellent British Museum (or as my friend Jim described it, the place where Britain keeps all the stuff they stole). Having been told horror stories of stealthy pickpockets we did a quick circumnavigation of the markets and headed back south to meet Andy at Embankment. We had a couple of beers with him and headed off west to grab our bags and then back south to Tooting Bec to meet our friends Aoife and Steve with whom we were staying. We were supposed to meet them at 7. It was 7 when we arrived at Paddington. Paddington is very far from Tooting Bec.
The tube here doesn’t have cellphone coverage. This may sound obvious, as the trains are travelling three or four stories below the ground. However, in Tokyo every train had coverage, no matter how deep it was. This meant that while we were inside the stations or the train we were outside the world of communication. No one knew where we were or how long we would be. This turned into a problem when we became trapped at Charing Cross.
Train after train came and went through that cursed station, all full to the gunwales with people, which would’ve been fine if it wasn’t for the large suitcases we were carrying. Each train would pull in and the door would open, the mass of humanity within glared out, eyes red from the grime and booze of a Friday evening. The trains are rank with smell of sweating flesh and everyone’s armpits are raised to face height. I had to keep making dashes to the surface to text our friends to tell them where we were (the situation worsened when my other friends reached the pub where we were supposed to be). In total we were in the underground for two hours.
A night out drinking (and shouting a few rounds in way of apology to patient friends) soothed our jangled nerves somewhat. Though the next morning brought its own surprises, I had suffered from what I learnt is common for Londoners: The Black Snot. Beneath my nails was black, in my nose was black and more than likely my lungs are blacker than if I had smoked all night. This city will literally get under your skin.