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A northerner's nightmare: The tube


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I’m a northerner, through and through.  I was born and raised in Manchester, went to a university in the north and pretty much haven’t left that part of the country apart from jetting off for a few sporadic family holidays and student jaunts to European cities. The furthest south I reached and properly explored would probably be about Birmingham, so apart from southerner friends and the occasional passing through on the train, the south is pretty much an enigma to this northern girl.

One city I haven’t visited in over a decade is London and after being lucky enough to gain some work experience in the Queen’s hometown I couldn’t wait to get stuck in doing touristy things like take cheesy pictures next to every London landmark as well as getting some valuable experience which will hopefully benefit me in the future.

As for the city itself, I love it.  It’s all a buzz with the excitement of the Olympics, even if there are the few odd grumbles from some grumpy office workers and narked taxi drivers. The rain isn’t perpetual like it is in Manchester and there is always something to do whatever time it is. It’s a hodge podge of everything diverse, old and new, people from every corner of the earth and I couldn’t think of a place better to hold this year’s Olympics.

But like with every good thing, there has to be a downside. Unfortunately this downside detracts rapidly from all the other hundred million good things about London city. London city’s nemesis is without doubt the tube.

The tube is the Devil’s transport. The stuffy underground, the over-priced travel, the mysteriously named Oyster card and not to mention the unavoidable overweight sweaty man’s armpit.

I hate it. With a passion. How do people do it every single day of the working week? It truly baffles me. First the stuffiness of the underground stations permeates into your head leaving you with a dull headache everyday. Next, unless you’re really lucky, you find your train line isn’t blessed with the phrase “good service” on the information screen. After that, if you manage to cram yourself onto the tube, you find yourself feeling very sorry for the plight of the tinned sardine. 

Then comes all the things you can only hope (hope doesn’t ever work) never happens.

Scenario one: there are no seats, the tube is full, you’re standing next to an overweight man who has yet to discover deodorant.  Your stop is 5 stations away. Nightmare.   

Scenario two: there are no seats, the tube is full and your deodorant (the one that promises to work 72 hours) suddenly malfunctions and you find yourself to be the overly sweaty person on the tube. This gets too much for your usual calm and collected novel tube user self and you start to feel faint. Nightmare.

Scenario three: there are no seats, the tube is full, your underground headache is in full dull flow and fellow tube user DJ Rudeboy is giving the rest of the tube a free set courtesy of his mobile speakers. Nightmare.

Scenario four: this one is the worst one of all.  All of the above happens.

After not even a week using the tube, I can honestly say I don’t think I have ever experienced such joy (or that it will ever be matched) than the euphoria of discovering the tube I want to use is on time, not overly packed and there standing free, the most coveted possession of any tube user, a chair; ready and waiting for yours truly.

It’s the small things in life that make everything else worth it.

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