London is ace for many reasons. As a countryside born and raised youngster, I eschewed my Countryside Alliance-supporting, corduroy-wearing peers and headed for the City in search of streets paved with gold. Upon reaching Archway station, I discovered floors epically marbled with hardened gum, which doesn't really have the same effect. But; after years of the last bus home being ten to six in the evening (oh, if this weren't a joke...), it took me some getting used to to have twenty four hour public transport. When I heard people complain that they had to wait a whole 15 minutes for a bus, I would interject in my Hampshire brogue that where I come from, we had four buses into town per day. Being London, the strangers looked at me with bafflement ("obviously new to the area;" "doesn't he know it's not done to talk to members of the public on the tube?"), but I felt my point had been made.
One of the best things about living in London is those fancy tubular trains they have nowadays. London Underground, or 'the Tube', as it's known to it's close friends is like a magic train to anywhere. Have you ever got one of those transit things across Gatwick airport? The one where you step in a room and before you know it you're being carted across the airport, almost like teleportation? Imagine that, but more stylish and you have the tube.
I have a tendency these days to walk the same distance the other direction from my house to catch the overground train, as it forces me to walk a bit on my way to work, which not only wakes me up a little but is good exercise, don't you know. However, if time doesn't permit (a fairly frequent event) then the Piccadilly line calls my name and I head off to my local magnificently art-deco extravaganza of a station to catch the magic train. One almost smiles or nods at folk in recognition, but this is both unsuitably familiar, and the fact remains that I really don't want to know these people any better. The same happens with a regular commute any which way. There's maybe a smile of shared resignation when delays are announced, or some camaraderie in adverse situations (a very British trait this, seen best on July 7th last year).
What I like bestest about the tube though is the characters. London does characters better than anywhere, I'd say. What instigated this post is the lady I saw on the tube last night, on my way home from Carluccio's. Here is a middle-aged black lady, well-dressed, hair arranged in a very specific, almost Macy Gay-esque fashion, carrying a Marks & Spencer shopping bag.
The finishing article, though, were the black 'World's Greatest Drinker' slippers replete with comical cartoon portrayal of said feat. Wonderful.
I refuse outright to post anything by Paul Weller, so Going Underground goes out the window; I'm certainly not going to post Tubular Bells either; and though I searched through my entire surf collection, I could find no songs immediately referencing 'tube' in whatever context. So, a London theme then: The Pogues - The Old Main Drag