Three Things I Think We Can All Take From the Tube Strike

Friday, 12 June 2009

1. People are idiots

Yeah, I'm talking about you, you moron who emerged from the depths of the Wednesday 17.02 Overground at Shepherd's Bush wheeling out a full-size bike. What the fuck? You took a bike on a train during a Tube strike – a really crowded train! It left people on the platform! – from Kensington Olympia to Shepherd's Bush?

Let me just illustrate something with a little Google Maps.

Kensington Olympia station to Shepherd's Bush station: map

Okay, you see point A? That's Kensington Olympia. That is where our train pulled in at 17.00. It took about a minute and a half for everyone to disembark, followed by another, we'll say, two minutes while you wrangled your giant monster bike into the depths of the train, which finally pulled out at 17.04, leaving dozens of people disgruntled on the platform and you happily petting your enormous mechanical horse.

Take a look at point B. That's Shepherd's Bush. I know, Westfield! It's very exciting. That is where it took a good three minutes for everyone to get off the train, because your SuperChrome XXX Mountain Death Cycle was wedged between the support bars. But, after clonking a Muslim woman on the headscarf, you managed to escape, set your bike upright, and leap astride it to sail off into the afternoon sun at 17.08. Happy ending.

Now, I would appreciate it if you would cast your eyes over these directions, also from Google Maps. I know it says driving, but the assumed speed is 15 mph, which is pretty darn average for a London cyclist.

Kensington Olympia station to Shepherd's Bush station: directions

How long does it take? Four minutes. Four minutes for you to get from A to B. On, I have to say, really nice roads. They're straight, green and pleasant. It was sunny outside. Question: are you perhaps a vampire who has trouble remaining in direct sunlight for more than thirty seconds at a time? Because that I can understand (although carrying a bike around is still a mystery). Otherwise, dude, you're kind of a douche.

2. Shut up, Bob Crow

Unions are supposed to be cool and sympathetic. I am a member of a union. Workers' rights are important. Have you never seen Newsies? Did you not watch the second season of The Wire? Dude!

Jack Kelly, champion of the working man

You are breaking Tiny Christian Bale's tiny heart. Unions are the way sexy heroes in the labour rights story, not the raving megalomaniacs. It is a recession! Stop being a dick!

3. Walking feels great! We are no longer slaves to the Tube map! Freedom!

So I walked almost all the way home yesterday! I did chicken out and catch a bus from Westbourne Park to Kilburn Park, but that was mostly because I was lost. Mostly. West London is, admittedly, one of the more pleasant parts of town, with all those leafy green trees and big wide streets and upmarket gastropubs, but it was very nice.

I admit to an unhealthy reliance on the Tube system. My flat is 90 seconds from Kilburn station (20 seconds in a sprint), and I use the Jubilee line to get everywhere. My main supermarket is the giant Sainsbury's on Finchley Road, four minutes by Tube. It took me months to figure out that I could walk, say, the mile down the high road to Kilburn Park station and that was okay. I didn't have to take the Jubilee down to Baker Street and change for the Bakerloo line.

My mental map of London is totally skewed by what's on the Tube map, as, I suspect, is most people's. But during the strike, I walked from Hammersmith (H&C, District and Piccadilly) to Shepherd's Bush (Central) to Notting Hill Gate (Circle & District) and it blew my mind. I thought London geography stopped working if you didn't duck underground every half-mile, but, no, it turns out it is in fact one big contiguous city! Consider me whammied.

Also, it was sunny, and all the urban young people (and some of the old ones) were outside getting cheerfully drunk while they waited for the trains to reopen that evening. My favorite thing to do in any city.


Soilman said...

Excellent rant(s). Really top drawer. I speak as a connoisseur and fellow ranter.

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