I love the simple pleasure of riding on the tube. Not as a commuter of course, I can only imagine the mundanity of riding to and fro from work on a smelly, hot, crowded, and often times late train. But as a tourist there is something that always draws me back to the dusty, coziness of the underground.
The feat of engineering that could only come from Victorian London, the way it provided relative safety from German bombs in the war. All of this brings a smile to my face as I navigate the corridors and cling to the hand rails. I enjoy watching the ‘hurriers’: those who always take the left hand side of the escalator and seem to be forever rushing to catch the trains that, for a casual observer, seem to come every 5 minutes. They are the worker bees, uncaring for the marvel that is their hive.
The diversity of London is a stark contrast to my hometown, but I feel nowhere better exemplifies this than the tube. From the knitters to the humble business folk, the drunks and the buskers to the underground workers themselves. People of all sizes, shapes, and colours; all moving with a single purpose and flow through the winding underground like water through a drainpipe, seemingly oblivious to the thousands of tonnes of soil and rock above their heads.
The air is thick and stale, and tickles your nose hairs. The weather above could be warm, cold, calm or stormy, but the tube has its own microclimate: windy and hot akin to a desert storm where the locals wear seasonally inappropriate clothing.
In a world consumed by health and safety, it is refreshing to let trains hurtle through busy stations, inches away from impatient commuters. The Endless curved tiled ceilings and walls, the therapeutic sway of the carriage. The gum stains and black fluff. All rushing away unnoticed.