Saturday, August 27, 2011

The London Underground (plus Jack the Ripper and Harrods)

I keep thinking I'll have one nice post with one nice topic in it, and then things happen and I think oh! I have to put that in as well. So you are treated/made to suffer multiple topics in a post.

So! The Underground was my planned main topic, because I was stuck for ten minutes just outside Victoria Station earlier this week. I'd spent five minutes trying to catch a Victoria line train, because the platform was so full and the trains were so full that three went past before I could squeeze my way on. Lucky the trains run every minute or so - I counted between one train leaving and the next arriving, and got to 22 seconds.

There were a lot of people on the platform, as afore-mentioned, and they were all trying to get the best spots to board the trains. This meant that people were standing right on the yellow line about a foot from the edge of the platform, and didn't tend to move when the train roared past them at high speed. Near the end of my stay on the platform, I ended up in this position, and had to will myself not to fall forward as the train blurred past just inches from my nose.

I boarded a train at last, and stood pressed up against the doors before getting to the tunnel outside Oxford Circus, where I've spent many a bored minute on my way to work (you often stop here while you wait for the previous train to leave the platform). The driver informed us that this was the case. We waited. The driver informed us that some of the doors on the next train would not close, and they were trying to fix the problem. For a second I thought - why not just go without the doors? - but then realised that probably wasn't very safe.

We waited. And waited a bit more. The driver of our train was very good and updated us regularly. Multiple official people were unable to close the doors, so the train had to be 'detrained'. Imagine an entire train, full to bursting with passengers, getting off at an already-full platform. This took a while. Finally the broken train moved off and our train was on its way again. There were now 'severe delays on the Victoria Line'. I was extremely glad I hadn't been able to get onto the previous train, as we went past all its former occupants on the Oxford Circus platform who couldn't fit onto our train, and probably not the next ten trains backed up behind us either (one a minute, remember).

On Friday night Disneyland Tax Girl, Disneyland Tax Guy and I went on a Jack the Ripper tour, visiting most of the scenes of the Jack the Ripper murders. It was extremely creepy listening to the guide in the old streets in the dusk and the rain, and imagining/trying not to imagine what it would have been like to live in Whitechapel, one of the worst slums of London, 120 years ago. I'm quite tempted to go and read up on Jack the Ripper now, but I think I might do it in daylight. Lots of fun, anyway.

Today was set aside by DTG as Shopping day, starting at Harrods and finishing in Oxford St. Harrods was impressive, as were the Saturday crowds, and we spent a few hours wandering around and staring at bags and shoes and confectionery and the building itself. We rode the Egyptian Escalator, which runs down the middle of the building in a shaft lined with Egyptian statues and carvings and paintings and mosaics.We admired the Gucci gumboots (wellingtons) and the great slabs of chocolate and fudge and the creme brulees and the caviar. I hadn't realised that you could, if so inclined, do your grocery shopping at Harrods, and I'm pretty sure I saw a girl who was doing so.

In other news, I now have a guitar. It is a mini guitar from the supermarket and I am dubious about its tuning, but it is a guitar and it is blue so I'm happy.

Have a good week!

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