Wednesday, 27 October 2010

An Open Letter to the London Underground

Dear Tube Train,

I'm worried that this is going to come across overly harsh. Honestly, I don't mean it to. I do appreciate all of the hard work you do. I completely understand that you are getting on a bit (what are you now, like 100?) and that you didn't sign up for the volume of work that's been thrust upon you. And my God would I miss you if you weren't around.

But we need to talk.

Don't panic; I'm not breaking up with you. I know, I know - I may have flirted with the odd bus journey, and once in a blue moon strayed from your loving embrace in favour of a black cab. But you're my first love; it's you that I turn to first, forsaking all others, when I need to get around town. It's just - you and me - I'm not sure it's working. I'm not sure either of us is happy.

Let's talk about your punctuality. Do you have any idea how irritating it is to be left standing, waiting, watching the minutes tick by as I wait for you to arrive? How soul-destroying it is to know that an entire city is rushing around above me, enjoying life, while I stand still and wait for you? And when you do finally grace me with your presence, you do so without a word of apology, just a list of the same old tired excuses.

Like 'Signal Failure'; if your signals are as prone to failure as your frequent tardiness would suggest, may I advise that you buy some new ones? Or how about, 'A Defective Train Up Ahead'. That's a classic, that is, one of your favourites. Then there's 'Flooded Stations', 'Crowd Control', 'Passenger Alarms'. I've heard it all, and you know what? If you don't want to see me, if you don't want to pick me up, well don't bloody bother. Just don't shower me with these transparent and quite frankly insulting excuses.

Did I say insulting? Well yes, yes I did. The excuses with which you attempt to pacify me are insulting in how obvious it is that they are false. Don't think I didn't notice that, after being stuck in a tunnel for 10 minutes due to overcrowding on the platform at Farringdon, we arrived at said station to find nobody there! Not a soul! And while I'm at it, you should know that I've noticed that your signals tend to fail whenever it rains. Coincidence? Ha! I think not! Look, none of us likes getting wet. None of us likes tripping through puddles and slipping across station concourses, but we do it because we have to. And what's more; we're not made of metal. You should be laughing in the face of the Great British Winter, not hiding from it!

I don't know, Tube. Where did it all go wrong? You're not the same as you once were. I can hear your unhappiness. I can hear it in the creaking and groaning of your carriages, the exhausted wheezing as doors drag themselves apart. I can see it in the dark and dusty tunnels and the weak and flickering lights. I just wish it hadn't got this far.

I won't abandon you. Not yet. I just needed to get this off my chest and let you know how I feel. And now that's done, I'll leave you alone as you probably need to think. Please don't doubt my affection for you; I hold you in such high regard, in such warm regard (as warm as the Northern Line on a summer's day, in fact). I'll see you in the morning.

Yours in anticipation of a happier future,


In honour of Halloween, here I am dressed as a frog. A drunk one.


  1. I doubt the tube will ever listen to your plea, which is very upsetting. :( I've thought about breaking up with it many a time.

    Also, frog photo = superb. You look absolutely delighted being a frog.

  2. The famous London Underground isn't as awesome as we're told on TV? For shame! Oh well, The TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) is no better and expensive! The best subway I ever took was in Montreal.

    I live in a city where transit sucks and I choose to walk rather than learn complicated bus schedules.

    Frog costume = awesome!

  3. *giggles*

    as someone who uses the tube semi-regularly, I can sympathise.

    ps - like the blog, found you guys via 20sb

  4. "(as warm as the Northern Line on a summer's day, in fact)" You have no idea how hard that made me laugh. I don't know why that made me spit my morning tea all over the screen, but it did.

    I do love the frog costume. I would crack a "frog prince" joke, but you look like you'd had enough of those for one night.

  5. Haha, this is truly a great letter.

    I hope you and the tube work things out.

    Also, marvelous frog picture. I don't know how I can possibly beat a picture of drunken frog-Tom.

  6. @ Rachel - You take the tube do you? I wonder if I've ever triad on
    your foot, or smiled smugly from a crowded carriage as the doors close
    on you. I'd hope not. And you're right; the Tube won't listen. It
    NEVER listens.

    @ Allison - Awesome? Really? No. I do appreciate that it's a giant
    antique and wasn't built to cope with the volume of people it
    currently has to deal with though. And also, you know I enjoy a moan;
    perhaps I'm being unreasonable. The best underground network I've been
    on was Frankfurt; glorious German efficiency.

    @ Girl From Oz - Hello! I'm glad you like the blog! I'm also glad you
    sympathise with me. I love sympathy. :)

    @ Risha - I'm chuckling at the image of you spitting your tea and
    pleased I made you laugh. Seriously though, NO AIR CONDITIONING. None
    at all. Just a little window that blows stale hot air back in your
    face. Again, I know it's old and the tunnels too small for ACUs but
    come on, let's think of a way around this! Also, I'm not sure it was
    having enough of the frog jokes as much as having too much of the
    sweet Amber nectar I'm clutching in my webbed hand.


  7. @ Lauren - you beat it effortlessly, as always ;)

  8. Tom, I still don't know why that made me laugh so hard. It sounds awful- and smelly! See, this is what I meant on your post about inventions- we don't seem to tweak what we currently have. We don't take a good idea and make it brilliant.
    I've only just realised that I've only been on the Northern Line in the winter..and come to think of it, I've only ever been in Englandia when it's autumn/winter...