There are aspects of London life I really enjoy: buying ‘finds’ on Portobello market, or prosecco when you pop into Yong LDN to get your lashes ‘done’ because you can walk home, the ability to step out in whatever-the-hell sartorial choices you feel like – maybe all of your favourite items at once – because no one will blink an eye. I’ve always loved the theatre and even though we don’t go often enough, we have an abundance of shows within a stones throw. Amazing food is always just round the corner, and if even that’s too far to venture, there’s Deliveroo.
Nevertheless, I’m not blind to the fact that each of these benefits comes with its pitfalls. For example, what my pallet enjoys, my waistline suffers for. The same is very true of the tube.
Before I moved to London, I dreaded having to regularly use the underground transport network. I viewed stepping down into the murky depths beneath London’s streets like walking into the jaws of hell. Don’t get me wrong, a few months in, I hardly love using it, but I’m reconciled with the fact that for the next few years, a significant chunk of time is going to be spent on it, so I might as well embrace it.
Cracking my commute means a number of simple necessities. Firstly, the central line is stiflingly hot, so as soon as I hit the platform, off comes my coat. I don’t know how people manage – for stop-after-stop – in a thick coat, scarf and hat when there’s so much body heat that you would probably be quite adequately dressed in shorts and T. In January.
Heat isn’t the only thing shared on there. Forcing ourselves into a carriage like sardines that close to your neighbour also means that every pore is visible and in early morning, that’s not always pleasant. Germs are aplenty, too; of this I’m convinced and attribute my weekly dose of snivells to my commute.When all notions of personal space are left on the platform and you’re certain you’re stepping into a germ farm, I’ve found that it’s best to have some form of distraction, being my second necessity.
Before I discovered the certain and unwavering necessity of distraction, I lamented the number of eyes glued to a phone screen for the entire duration of a journey. But now I get it; I understand. I fear that too much screen-time will fry my brain and break my retina so books and magazines are my distraction favourites. Failing that, I get out my EarPods, start up a jolly-ish podcast and shut my eyes.
In fact, eye-shutting in the face of no pre-arranged visual distractions is my third necessity. Leaving eyes open can be frightening. For example, I cast my eyes to a book a neighbour was reading one evening, and frankly, the language was blue and the content red-hot. I blushed and my expression must have said it all, because I caught a lady watching me peer at it, then giggle at my reaction.
I find it’s actually imperative that you do not to let your eyes wander around a packed carriage if you are sat down. The thing is, some people wear very tight trousers or leggings. As in very, very tight. Exceptionally tight. And if they’re average height and you let your eyes wander without caution, you’re likely to happen on the kinds of bulging that should never be witnessed in either men or women. Especially if the offender likes to hold onto the bar above your head with both hands, thus pulling up the trouser and exacerbating the problem. Trust me. I forgot last night and it took a bag of Discos, a Crème Egg and an alcohol fueled debrief to get over the frightening sight that befell me.
Yet I have come to acknowledge its ease for getting around and about. My night out with colleagues last night was made infinitely easier than it would have been at home because we could each take our own tunnel home. There was none of the extensive planning needed for nights out when you live in remote spots; no need to arrange lifts, taxis, places to stay… In truth, it’s a cracking commodity. If only we had one in the village at home!