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Going Underground


Happy 150th Birthday to the London Underground!  The first journey taken on the Tube was on the 9th January 1963 on the Metropolitan Line, a distance of 3.5 miles between Paddington and Farringdon stations on a steam train!

To mark this event, the Royal Mail has released a London Underground stamp set featuring lithographs, illustrations and photographs of the development of the transport network from 1863 to the present day and the Royal Mint have issued a commemorative £2 coin bearing the “roundel” logo which first appeared on Underground station platforms in 1908 and featuring an edge inscription heralding the famous advice: MIND THE GAP.

Three little factoids (my new favourite word) for you are:

  • The nickname “the Tube” comes from the circular tube-like tunnels through which the trains travel.
  • The busiest station is Waterloo with 82 million passengers a year, and
  • It is the 3rd largest metro system in the world after  the Beijing Subway and the Shanghai Metro.

MoleThat said, whilst I appreciate that the Underground is a very good way to get around, avoiding traffic jams, road closures etc., it is actually my least favourite mode of transport – if God had wanted us to travel underground, he would have made us all moles!

Stairway to ….. nowhere!

This is hilarious! A fellow commuter captured this footage of a businessman, wearing a suit and carrying a briefcase, trying to ride down to the tube on a escalator moving upwards at Tottenham Court Road. Despite getting absolutely nowhere, the unnamed man continues to take on the escalator with dogged determination. And he keeps going even when several other passengers point out he is walking the wrong way. Looks like he’d stopped in the pub for quite a few before embarking on his journey – let this be a lesson to him as this video goes viral and all his workmates, friends and family witness his walk of shame!

A sticky situation

I have great admiration for you if you are one of the millions of Londoners who stoically battles through the Tube’s rush hour commute.  I lasted precisely 12 months before I decided that life was too short and got a job closer to home.  Anyone who does use this mode of transport regularly will probably agree that it is uncomfortable, tedious and unreliable.

On your journeys you will no doubt have passed dozens of Transport for London signs and notices.   But how much attention do you actually pay to them?  Has their familiarity as part of everyday visual clutter led to them becoming almost invisible, losing all meaning beyond shape and colour?

Take the following examples:

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It would seem that there is a growing trend where people strategically place stickers over London Transport’s own messages.  They use the same fonts and designs as London Underground’s famous branding, but they subvert the intended message making often amusing but sometimes serious points about anything from overcrowding to Tube etiquette.

London Transport are not amused at this latest craze and liken it to graffiti which they say is “unwanted vandalism that causes criminal damage” and “will not be tolerated”.

I disagree.  Graffiti is much harder to remove, whereas these stickers can probably be taken off with just a bowl of hot soapy water?  Besides, where is their sense of humour?  Surely anything that can bring a smile to the face of a commuter can only be a good thing?

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