Archive for Reasons to Hate the Tube

Reasons To Hate The Tube #8: Rain

It’s been eight months since I last shared a reason to hate the Tube. In that time, the mechanical behemoth has continued to plod along; left stations with doors open, closed large portions of the network and struggled to cope with mosquito swarms. At least it wasn’t looted.

Anyway, Rain. We don’t get a lot in England and us Brits certainly don’t talk about the weather a lot. Summer 2011 has been a scorcher – a spectacular display of su…

Oh, who are we kidding? It’s been pants and in particular, the extremely damp kind. Why is rain particularly bad for the Tube? Surely being in an enclosed carriage, metres beneath the earth makes the whole issue of rain defunct, right?

Wrong. People stop walking. Tourists in particular are renowned for their ant-like behaviour – back to the safety of the hill! It only takes a single drop to overload the Tube with soggy armpits. It’s hot in the tunnels, and having dripping businessmen rub up against you is hardly the most enjoyable of situations.

Pour Show

Not only that, everyone runs around with gigantic umbrellas – the branded, golf kind that shout “I went to an Insurance trade show and all I got was this lousy umbrella”. They’re massive – you could do a pole-vault with them, they’re so big. They’re particularly adept at poking people’s legs and eyes still coated in the acid rain that London inevitably produces.

So in a moving greenhouse that’s the Circle Line, rain above ground is the last thing you want in August. Everyone’s jetted off to whatever poolside retreat suits them – it should be a clear run. The commute should take 40 minutes as opposed to over an hour. Everyone has a seat. August is nice on the Tube, even with the 63 degree heat and the swarms of families standing in doorways and on the right.

Except it’s not. It keeps raining and people keep catching the Tube from Leicester Square to Covert Garden. Climate change – what a washout theory.


Reasons To Hate The Tube #7: The Armrest

Source: IanVisits Flickr

Having proclaimed that my favourite 2010 game was Red Dead: Redemption, I’ve come to the conclusion that it wasn’t. That illustrious award deserves to be handed to little known classic, The Armrest. For those who are unaware of the ‘Kinect compatible’ title, all you need to play The Armrest is a London Underground train, preferably filled to the brim with commuters, and your own body.

Whatever your combat style, the uneven number of armrests on a Northern line train guarantees all sort of arm-based conflict. Picture the scene. Relaxed and comfortable having claimed a seat – a thing rarer that Bigfoot and ET’s lovechild – you’re doing your very best to avoid eye contact.

A single bullet might have sparked the First World War, but you can bet good money that more conflict has been caused by the humble armrest. They’re the TFL equivalent of a country’s borders, and like its real world counterpart, often subject to vicious battles concerned with who owns what.

Let’s look at the top two fighting styles:

1. The Bulldozer – Drifting in and out of consciousness, wrapped in the warm embrace of the regurgitated  air that wafts staley through the carriages, you’re awoken by an artillery strike of businessman. Black Coat, gigantic umbrella, huffy sigh. He collapses in the seat next to you.

He’s the worst of the worst – a rhinosaurus with a temper. He doesnt care that youre taking up a mere inch of the rest, he wants it all. His sheer size is enough reason to move, the glancing looks empty enough to chill you to the bone.

With such a large size behind him, the best solution is to play the brains card. Sarcastically say, loud enough so the entire carriage hears, “Oh, did you want the armrest, I’m happy to give it to you if you’d just ask politely.” Not only will he yield to your words, he’ll also look like a petty man and instantly become coy in response the judgemental stares that will be heading his way.

2. The Nudger – These are less obvious and they’re a more difficult beast to deal with. They sit down, often silently and sit with their arms on their laps. They’ll then pull out their paper which signals, “I need room to turn these gigantic sized pages.” They’ll then lightly nudge your arm,  rhythmically increasing the pressure they’re exerting. They’ll pretend they don’t know they’re doing it, but they know. They always know.

The best way to combat the subtlety of their attack is to take a counter-loud punch to their subversive efforts. Turn to them, look them dead in the eye and shout: “DO YOU MIND!” That’ll quickly put them in their place.

Players generally fall into the above two categories, often using a combination of the two approaches to go for the win. Give it a go sometimes, it works – especially on a Monday morning.


Of course, the reasons so far can be found here. It’s pretty cool that #6 got featured in the weekly round-up on the One A Day website.

Reasons To Hate The Tube #6: Eye Contact

Courtesy of

There’s an unwritten law that if broken is punishable by something so severe that no-one has ever dared break it. Exaggeration aside, we’re talking about that fleeting moment on the London Underground called eye-contact. You could be strangling a baby while playing an accordion and no-one would bat an eyelid, but catch someone’s glance for more than a millisecond and you’d think you’d just sexually assaulted them.

In the rusty metal tombs on wheels, as you fly through the heart of London, you can understand why individuals are apprehensive with sharing a moment. The sea of anoniminity is a shroud of peace and quiet. After all, who wants to share a conversation with the person’s armpit you’re squashed into. You can just imagine the small talk, “nice hair…”

Yet, with so much philosophy about how the eyes are a window to the soul you’d think we as humans would love to share our souls with strangers. Maybe it’s just the Capital’s effect? Having never lived anywhere else, maybe everyone looks at each other on buses around the country.

I do have a theory that counters this. Everyone is looking at everyone in the reflection of the glass, we’re all just too scared to admit it…

This is a continuation of a long running blog series I’ve been doing. To see the past reasons, take a look here.

Reasons to Hate the Tube #5: Tourists

Tourists. It’s hard to criticise them too much. London can be a pretty daunting place and we’ve all been in a large foreign city. When you’re out of your comfort zone, everyone always seems to know exactly where they’re going. There’s no-one willing to stop and help.

The first giveaway is the smile. Simple as that. Tourists haven’t experienced the daily signal failures, the packed carriages, the musk that wafts through the tunnels during summer. Put simply, their souls haven’t been eroded away by the mundane. The second sign is when they press the ‘Open Door’ button. It’s an easy mistake to make the first time you use the tube. After all, why have it if it’s not meant to be used?

The only logical explanation is TFL’s doing us a favour. It’s a sly heads up, warning commuters to use the other door. If you end up following the ‘pressers’ through the  door, you’re only going to get stuck behind them. They’ll immediately stop, blocking the way as they scan in which direction to head. No-one can get off the tube and nobody can get on. It’s made even more irritating when they’re totally oblivious to the other passengers (this might help explain the torment suffered).

Other criminal actions include the mass-studying of Underground map. Choosing your route as a horde will bemuse even the most patient. Is it really that complicated? Does the whole group need to argue if the Circle Line’s the way to go (insider tip: it never is). It’s a one person task. You don’t have multiple people shouting directions in a minivan as you drive, so why overload the narrow tunnels with your aimless chatter.

Then there’s the bags. If you wish to pack every worldly possession into a backpack, please travel after 10am. Your over zealous bag prevents at least four commuters reaching their jobs.

Let’s take the following anecdote. There are over 190 steps in Covent Garden Tube station, (the most well known of all tourist traps). There’s also an equal amount of signs pre-warning people that it’s a pretty tough climb. Yet, despite the warning, tourists think it wise to take the arduous trip. Anyone who regularly uses the stairs can usually ascend quicker than the lifts. However every time you rush up the stairs, you find yourself  stuck behind a morbidly obese gentleman who looks like he’s climbing Everest. He’ll say, often in a gruff American accent, ” D’ya know Edith, I didn’t realise there was so many steps!” No? Well I did and your sluggish progress is preventing me from escaping your company. Pay attention next time.

So never one to complain without offering wisdom, here’s five helpful tips for tourists to make life easier for everyone:

  • That’s my face, not a baggage rack.
  • It’s the Northern Line, not the black line.
  • We don’t want to hear you, in your nasal tone, discuss like, totally, everything.
  • You see that map, the one placed by TFL in a thoroughfare, it’s not actually for use.
  • Get. Out. Of. My. Way.

Disclaimer: According to Steve Hogarty, my last reason to hate the Tube (make-up) was evidence that I’m a misogynist. To prevent equal sarcastic comment, I love Americans. I’m travelling to the US in September because I like them so much (second year in a row). One day, I hope to emigrate there.

Reasons to Hate the Tube #4: Makeup

The dream (courtesy of WomenLink)

Why should the weary public have to put up with your beauty regime? You don’t find me whipping out the shaving foam, lathering myself up and going to town on my stubble. I’m of course talking about the age old complaint of women slapping on their foundation on the Tube.

It’s easy to see the benefits for those with busy lives. After all, why not combine two parts of your daily routine? It demonstrates good time management and behaviour like that will send you flying to the top of the boardroom. You go girl! Add on the extra minutes of escape from the screaming kids and demanding husband and you’ve got an opportunity too good to miss.

But step back a moment and remember that you’re not alone in the carriage. In your mind, you may well indeed be sitting amid a tropical paradise as the crystal clear waters wash away your wrinkles. In reality, you’re packed in with a horde of sweaty, tired commuters emitting a collective musk of stale body-odour.

I implore you, think of us poor folk. Our last desire at 7.30 in the morning is to see you, a half baked woman, struggle with your mascara. Let us not forget the fairground-ride-stability that the carriages offer. You’d be better off trying to apply your lipstick while skydiving upside-down.

And then there’s that face you pull. The obscure, struggling pout that shouts, “aren’t I sophisticated?!” as you continually poke yourself in the eye.

The reality (courtesy of Grist)

Why should you be subject to special treatment? I’m not allowed to sit naked from the waist down; cleaning my nether regions with a rotten flannel because I’ve ran out of time in the shower. I’m adamant that behaviour like that would hastily gift me a restraining order.

To cap it all off, you have the cheek to say, “do you mind, I’m doing my makeup.” In fact, I do mind madam and you’re putting me off cleaning my crotch.

Vulgarities aside, think of us poor observers. You’re never rarely an attractive woman and while you may think you’re Aphrodite incarnate, the sad reality it’s like watching a chimp struggle to cover its privates with some mud. Next time, do the groundwork at home and spare us the pleasure of your tired face.

As usual, this series of blog posts is meant entirely in jest. If you are one of the troubled souls mentioned above, please don’t be offended. Also, stop marking me with your bleeding eyeliner – my body is not territory to be claimed by your war against aging!


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