Sunday, October 23, 2011

Tube Battle Tactics, and a win.

I didn't manage to get my Wednesday post up this week, owing to spending most of my time flat hunting or, ahem, watching Merlin (it counts as research on plotting and humour). Today, therefore, will probably be an extra-long post. I have much to discuss.

First: Tube Battle Tactics.

Sometimes signals fail. Sometimes trains break down. Sometimes someone jumps onto the tracks. This means that there will be 'minor delays' or 'severe delays' on the line, or they might even close the entire line and 'your tickets will be valid on local bus services'. On Thursday morning, just as I was passing Hampstead, the driver announced that there were severe delays on the Victoria Line due to a defective train.

I change to the Victoria Line at Euston, and when there are delays (or even when there aren't delays) you might have to wait for three or four trains to go past before you can sardine yourself on. The Northern Line (Bank Branch) platform at Euston is separated from the Victoria Line platform by a short corridor, which is one of the best tube changes I've come across. I was on a Bank Branch train, as usual, but I stared at the Underground map and formulated my Battle Tactics. It may help to have a copy of the Underground map in front of you as you read the next bit.

The Northern Line (Charing Cross Branch) also goes through Euston, but is separated from the Victoria Line by two escalators, multiple sets of stairs and many corridors. Two stops later, at Warren St, it crosses the Victoria Line again, so you can change here, but again there are many escalators, stairs and corridors. The Victoria Line platform at Warren St, however, is very rarely crowded, and you can usually get on the first train.

So I got off my train at Camden Town, and took the next Charing Cross Branch train. Then I got off at Euston.

The sharp-eyed among you will notice that this was the wrong station.

I was almost at the Victoria Line platform before I realised my mistake. I had been wondering vaguely why the sequence of steps and escalators and corridors was different from what I remembered, but never got further than wondering vaguely. I determined to stick it out at Euston. Then I saw the platform spilling people down the corridors, and turned back the way I'd come.

Back on a Northern Line train. Mornington Crescent. Warren St. Change for Victoria Line. A train right at the platform, and not very many people. Hooray!

Finally I was on a Victoria Line train, squashed in, but going the right direction on the right line. For future reference: Do not attempt to execute Tube Battle Tactics when half asleep.

More was to come. Just as we were getting into Green Park, we were told that Victoria Station was closed (no idea why, but probably due to overcrowding). Some Victoria-bound people got off at Green Park, but not that many. I didn't realise just how few had disembarked until we got to Pimlico, and 95% of the people on the train got off.

Pimlico's a relatively small station. It has two escalators and a set of stairs. You might wait thirty seconds or so to get onto the escalator, or a bit longer if you want to stand as you ride the escalator, but never longer. But today the escalator hall was so full it was taking a while to even get off the platform.

The reason: the escalators weren't working. No idea why. I got out my book as we shuffled along, into the sea of people that was the escalator hall. They weren't letting any passengers into the station from outside, so both escalators and the stairs were filled with trudging people, two on each step. At a guess, there are about one hundred steps, and it was quite a sight to see so many bobbing heads and shoulders moving up and up and up.

Needless to say, I was late for work.

Next: Go All Blacks!

This probably should have gone first, but considering my last post was mostly about rugby, I thought I'd put it further down so the less-rugby-minded wouldn't be put off. Heh.

I went back to the Sports Bar at New Zealand House, reaching the doors just in time to see the haka. They were taking a cover charge of £5 cash-only and I had a grand total of £1.36 on my person, so I had to go a-looking for an ATM. These are in short supply in the area of Haymarket, Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square, and even some of those that exist are out of order. Eventually I found one that would give me money, and ran back to the bar (I did a lot of running this morning). I still haven't got into the habit of carrying real money around with me...

To my surprise, around half the patrons in the bar were French. The French were easy to spot, because they kept chanting "Allez les Bleus" (go the Bleus) and clapping/jeering excessively whenever the All Blacks made a mistake. I reflected on sports etiquette, and wondered whether we did the same as the French. In some cases, I guess we did. Over the course of the match, thought, I decided that it is okay to cheer for your team when they do something good, but it is bad form to cheer for your team when the other team does something bad that has no connection whatsoever to the actions of your team. I.e., do not yell "Allez les Bleus" whenever a conversion or a penalty is missed.

It's just not cricket.

In the second half, some kiwis took up a chant of "Kiwi!" (clap clap clap), so we did that whenever the French began theirs.

It was a very close, very tense game. The curse of the All Blacks Number 10 jersey reared its head as the third man to wear it in the Cup was taken off with an over-extended knee (they kept replaying it. And replaying it. It looked extremely painful the first time. I didn't need to watch it a second or a third). I thought the All Blacks looked quite scrappy for a while, but then I realised that's just how you play defence. I'm not used to seeing them in defence. The French were a hard team to beat.

At last the final whistle blew, and the Black-clothed half of the bar cheered. Lots of people left, and the speakers began playng "We are the Champions" at top volume.

Now I'm back home with my homemade banana pudding with limoncello icing, which is as good as it sounds. Have a good week!

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