Lost in London

London, like many cities mostly presents its underground railway maps in a topological format.

And when I say underground I mean the metro, but it is rarely called that in the uk. The normal colloquilism for London underground being ‘the tube’ . Topological maps show the stations and lines in an ordered and geometric way, which gives great clarity but totally distorts distance and indeed direction.

Native Londoners when outside their immediate geographic comfort zones of suburban home or city street will have a hazy and simplified comprehension of the geography of their city fuelled by these maps.

Tourists are even worse off with few if any reference points to assist in computing real distance and direction rather than just ‘living the tube map’.

I read recently that despite Covent Garden and Leicester Square stations being only 400 metres or so apart,

and a mere 40 second tube journey, some 800 people per week buy tickets for this journey between the two of them…blissfully unaware that a 4 minute stroll along the street will take them from one station to another in much more comfort and lots to see along the way…..

These are London’s two tube stations that are closest to each other but these are not unique with others equally near their neighbours.

Meantime back at the world of what to call the underground……

The metropolitan tube line in London was the world’s first such railway and the name, ‘ metro’ has been used worlwide for city underground trains. Except in London where the name tube has just stuck and is what everybody refers to it by.

In Paris, the abbreviation as well as the full name Metropolitan is in widespread use .

but in numerous other cities in Europe and beyond, the underground trains are called metros. Ok in New York it’s the subway,

and funnily enough in Glasgow, that same name too,

although colloquilly referred to there by some as the ‘Clockwork Orange ‘.

Why, well the trains are bright orange and it’s just one continuous circle. A unique experience with it’s own smell that cannot be quite defined! The continuous circle is now used in its logo branding for the stations too.

If you ever get the chance to visit Glasgow, give it a whirl.15 stations and a lot of people watching!

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Sliding Doors…..

My favourite movie of all time is ‘Sliding Doors’ …now I know that is quite a rash statement to make…but I have thought about this a lot and that is my final answer!

So to answer the obvious question of why? Well first of all, if you haven’t seen it, its one of these parallel time movies where one set of things really happens and one doesn’t and actually what this is there to demonstrate is how one simple event in your life can totally transform it.

In the case of this story, set in London, its all about a girl (Gwneth Paltrow) who was cheated on by her partner and only found out about it as she just caught a tube train (hence the name, Sliding Doors) with seconds to spare.

In the parallel instance she just misses the train and doesn’t find out about his infidelity and life takes on a completely different path.

I think this is a wonderful demonstration how for many of us our lives will take on a completely tangential trajectory from one (or in reality numerous) sliding door moments of our own …I realise this is probably stating the obvious but I think in some ways its a real ‘wake up and smell the coffee moment’ that we all think we are so clever controlling and planning our destinies but actually they are outside our grasp. Ask anybody how they met their partner, got their ideal job, etc. and it will often be from a sliding door moment. Depending on your spiritual beliefs or none, you may see this as coming from an external source – whether a believer in those influences or just fate, the results are still the same.

If you haven’t seen the movie, you should (on Netflicks I think now) as its a surprisingly feel good film and very funny in parts..even to the point where John Hannah (the new love interest), is traveling on the tube and ‘breaking all convention for London’ and talking to people!

Look forward to your comments and anybody willing to share their ‘sliding door moments’ …I’ve got a couple of them of my own (but for the avoidance of doubt, not like the one in this film!) and they will appear in a future blog post

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Dog learns to play trumpet !

My train from Yorkshire to London was nearing the terminus and the guard made an announcement: ‘This is Graham, your train guard. We will shortly be arriving into London Kings Cross Station, please make sure you have all your possessions with you when you leave the train, including your children’. The party of American tourists across the aisle from me smiled..well this was indeed British humour, and Graham the guard had a ‘dead pan ironic style of delivery.’ Graham then went on to say. ‘I am pleased to confirm we are on time and for those travelling on the tube (London Underground), all lines are running well’.

Cue more smiles and nods of approval at this amusing yet helpful man. And then a further announcement from Graham. ‘ The London Underground is great place . I took my dog on it once and he learned to play the trumpet. He went from Barking to Tooting in just 30 minutes ‘.

Now looks of confusion and bewilderment from same American visitors. I did think about explaining to them but I had a tube to catch….to the Isle of Dogs.

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Unexpected item in the seating area ..why wear Fluffy slippers on the Jubilee Line?

Hot on the heels of wearing your hair in rollers when out in town, is wearing your fluffy slippers on public transport.The Liverpudlian trend of being happy in a hairnet and managing to look cool and trendy back in 2015 soon spread. No longer did people assume that these millenials were escapees from a salon hostage situation but that these were people on the leading edge of fashion.Things have moved on and it seems it is now acceptable to wear your fluffiest slippers wherever your mood draws you. Travelling on the Jubilee line in London recently, I was dutifully following protocol and not engaging with or making eye contact with other humans and so staring at my feet. It was a bit of a surprise to see their neighbours attire!This is not just trendy London. This week I found myself in Germany in a large town not normally associated with extreme fashion…and I see the same again.So we live in a growing culture of just wear what you want..no bad thing at all in a world where the pressure to conform has at some times been a very damaging one.Enjoying these posts? Please like, subscribe if you want to get notifications of new posts and share on your social media platforms using the buttons.