The London Underground
On the Tube, not only can you experience some weird stomach cramps and wildly unpredictable starting/stopping motions, but you can also see some of the most miraculous and filthy things London has to offer. The Underground – though often procuring a bad rap for its untimeliness, stench and the plain cunty-ness of its users – can be seen in a different light if one steps back and observes the simple absurdity and weirdness of some of the people on board. Hours of entertainment beckon at the fingertips of Londoners daily, entertainment that is often naively disregarded as a public nuisance or general decedent fashion of behaviour.
To be fair, the Tube is typically pretty fucked, both as a mode of transport and a habitat for hygiene. Peak hour and early mornings are the worst of times – you get told to “mind the gap” six times per journey and the lady who tells you to do so speaks in the most monotonic drone. You’re also generally also paying far too much for it. In saying that, I’m going to choose to focus on the positives of the Tube: the super strange and generally twisted late-night patrons.
Once, I was sitting down minding my own business – embattled in a gruesome war with Snake II on my brand spanker of a Nokia 3310 – when a man disrupted me with his warm yet unexpected demeanor. This gentleman stumbled past me urinating on himself. I’m not talking in his pants, but dick out, aimed towards his mid-chest region, draining his pistol. This guy was having the time of his life, fully indulged and unaware of what he was doing. While others fled in an attempt to elude the situation at hand, I embraced it (and duly noted the implausibly large size of the dude’s Johnson).
The Tube is a platform for all different species of character. You can get anyone from the homeless dude that begs for crack in Camden Park to Paul McCartney (a good story), but more than anything, you are guaranteed to get everyone in-between as well. One of the weirdest moments I have experienced came the morning after what I can only describe as a deeply indulgent night. Fortunately, I do not remember the finer details, but I found myself in the nadirs of Elephant and Castle, and for anyone who knows London, Elephants and Castle is pretty much one of the last places you want to wake up in. I dejectedly stumbled onto the northern line heading back towards Camden when (it realistically could have been my twisted mind playing tricks on me, but as I remember it) three fully grown gentlemen with deep cockney accents started discussing the usefulness and viability of cock ring manufacturing, and how in today’s market, they believed it really could be a successful business venture.
I have been a bystander of what I’m pretty certain was the complete relocation of a homeless woman’s worldly possessions via a one-wheeled children’s pram, and I have also seen a man play the most amazing piece of Spanish flamenco guitar I have ever heard. Now, I caught the Tube a fair bit for work, so keep in mind that these striking moments came few and far between. More often that not, you will find yourself sitting there in a much more vexatious situation – possibly in front of an offensively hairy and impossibly smelly Middle Eastern man – but prevail you must.
There are a few other things that one has to be aware of when entering the enigma machine that is the London Underground, untimely bowel movements being right up there with the most imperative. Inconvenient bowel activities are synonymous with tube travel. You get on feeling great, and you’re riding smooth, when the next thing you know is the train has stopped in the middle of a sweaty tunnel and you badly need to take a shit. Thinking about it actually, it’s probably everybody’s problem during peak hour. The train keeps stopping due to congestion, and we’re all just wanting to take our morning dump – pretty straightforward, really.
Now, when it comes to the prices of the Underground, if you are staying for longer than a three day period and you spend your money on anything other than a weekly pass, then you’re dumb as fuck and probably deserve to get ripped off. If you are not in a hurry however, I would recommend using the public buses instead. Although they are slower and ultimately just as unreliable, you’re not stuck in a dark, moist tunnel and you get to see a fair chunk of London. The 24 bus from Victoria to Hampstead Heath is perhaps the most useful line of transport, leaving every five minutes from around Victoria and passing through Westminster, Charing Cross, Leicester Square, Tottenham Court Road, Mornington Crescent, and Camden Town: all worthy places to visit.