Personally I think all those people that sit on the Tube with their head stuck in a Metro, or zoned out on their iPhones with headphones on, are missing out.
You may think I say this because a) I get travel sick if I read on the Tube and b) I can’t afford an iPhone.
No, I say this because you really are missing out on a wonderful world of freaks.
London is a perfect melting pot for them, and the Tube (or any form of public transport) an excellent cross section of said pot. For an actor, this is an invaluable source of material. Characters leap out at you from all angles. Real people, with real lives and real habits, are fascinating.
Where else can you see a man in a business suit, wearing headphones and weight-lifter gloves doing a full work out of sit-ups, press-ups and chin-ups on the District Line?
And, I swear I kid you not, the following day, same line, same time, a completely different man doing exactly the same thing?
Where else does a large German gentleman slide his head beneath your arm that is holding the overhead pole and loom around your neck so that he can read the map?
The average looking middle-aged woman carrying a can of Special Brew with a straw in it.
The elderly man who thinks he’s Quentin Crisp.
The people who suddenly remember something funny and accidentally laugh out loud.
The people who don’t think you can see them picking their nose.
The looks on people’s faces when they get a text message from someone good.
The drunks, the harassed mothers, the students, the tramps, the tourists.
Ohhhh the tourists. Particularly the ones that get off with large suitcases and immediately stand still and go “Hmmm, now I wonder where I’m going.” While 50 commuters pile up behind them in an angry sweating human bottleneck.
(My most favourite line from American tourists: “Oh look honey…Bond Street. Is that the same as James Bond Street?” )
I particularly enjoy watching people, and note I do not just say “women” here, doing their make-up on a Tube. I’ve done it myself and I find it fascinating watching them slowly and patiently transform. Waiting to apply the eyeliner until a smooth portion of the track. And then occasionally seeing them accidentally shoot lipstick across their face.
(Acton Town = to be avoided, trust me.)
Then there are the couples. Its funny how when you are single, every single damn journey involves sitting opposite a loved-up couple trying to consume each other. You just want to yell “Thanks a bunch guys, I’m going to die alone. Get a room!”
Then of course when you’re with someone, it seems like the most natural thing in the world to try to eat their face in public.
But for me, the most invaluable and utterly reliable thing about the Transport for London system… is its unreliability.
You can have complete faith in it to fall apart somewhere, every single day. And for that perfect reason, even you are late for something and it’s entirely your own fault, you can just roll your eyes and say “Oh My God, the Central Line…just…Ugh”.
And everyone will believe you.
Frothy Mocha x