Commuters have experienced disrupted services on the London Underground. The Circle, District and Metropolitan lines have been severely hit due to signalling problems. But commuter chaos is not just on the tracks but on the platforms.
I have two Abiding memories of school. Being called out for running in the corridor and being shouted at ‘Keep left! Left, left, left, left, left. It is now part of my DNA. The drill means that people coming toward you are on your right and so traffic moves smoothly. Simples, before we became adults in public spaces.
Walking toward the central line platform, on the left, a sea of people spread across the path confronted me. Hundreds all coming toward me. Little me. I felt like a skipjack before a school of sharks. But then like Moses the sea parted. Only to close around and engulf me.
It was like a flea being deeply inhaled by a mastiff. After what felt like hours but was probably just a few claustrophobic seconds. I emerged battered but not too bruised and on the left.
‘bumping, barging and bruising’
Walking the stairways (tube escalators being the exception) are no better. People come at you from all angles. It’s more dangerous than driving around the Elephant & Castle. Donning warrior mettle, I scrambled my way past, bags, bikes, people, and prams. Arriving too weary and tired, running the last six steps for the train was too much of a marathon. The good news about missing the train was that the platform was empty. At least for a minute. Then its starts all over again.
People were walking in the middle of the platform pushing fellow commuters into the track or alcoves. Couples holding hands as if the densely populated hot station platform is a Caribbean beach. Men walk abreast forming an impenetrable brick wall. While others lug backpacks that look like collapsible homes. It makes for a lot of bumping, barging and bruising and loss of personal space. It’s nothing like the organised Japanese tube stations. Where is our pavement etiquette? In the Rules For Pedestrians, i’mjussayin.
The discomfort of the rat run is easily avoidable without referring to the Royal guidance. So, have a care and don’t wander everywhere. Keep left, left, left, left, left. Right!
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