Arbitrary Rules for Tube for LOLs
Using the December 2012 edition of the London Underground Tube map, which is updated to include the final branch of the Overground line from Surrey Quays to Clapham Junction, I will visit every station on the Tube.
To make it more interesting (difficult), there are rules, arbitrary rules:
1: Starting at Gingerbread Cottage in Forest Hill, I will visit the stations alpabetically in turn from Abbey Road and Acton Central through Maida Vale and Manor House to Woodside Park and Woolwich Arsenal. All 376 of them. Unfortunately there are no underground stations beginning with an ‘X’, ‘Y’ or ‘Z’. This is most remiss of Transport for London. And we call London a world city!
2: I will exit each station and mooch around the neighbourhood for a few minutes or an hour or two, taking a photo or two, making a random observation or two, perhaps encountering a local or two. And, I guess, knowing homo sapiens’ inveterate desire to find patterns even where no pattern exists, trying to extract something meaningful from each visit. This is not a quick zip from one station to the next: the quality of the experience is important. (‘Hrumphh! Hrumphh!’ goes the Inner Curmudgeon, ‘Pay no attention. What quality? What experience? It’s an old codger taking a random walk.’)
3: I will then return to the station and take the Tube to the next alphabetical station. No cheating here, no walking the few hundred yards from Acton Central to Acton South, oh no. Back to A. Central taking the Overground southbound to Gunnersbury, changing on to the eastbound District line to Turnham Green, changing again to the Ealing Broadway spur of the District line westbound to A. Town. To be absolutely clear: I must go from one station to the next exclusively on the Tube.
4: The only exception to Rule Three is that I won’t need to revisit the last station from the previous excursion on the next outing. I will return home to Forest Hill (Overground line) from Acton Town knowing that my next visit will begin at Aldgate. I know it’s hard to believe but sometimes a man has to make life a little easier for himself.
5: I’ll use only the routes shown in the December 2012 Tube map. I won’t use the National Railway line direct from Forest Hill to London Bridge. Or the one that goes from Forest Hill to London Victoria via Clapham Junction. Or slip into London Bridge and then take the train to Greenwich, Lewisham or Woolwich Arsenal (no, I’ll spend hours getting to those places on the Toytown Docklands Light Railway). I won’t zip up to Tottenham Hale from Liverpool Street station.
6: I am allowed to combine my Tube for LOLs visits with trips I have to make anyway (e.g. going to the London Library, shopping for coffee, trying to get a new mobile phone) but only if I am visiting that station as part of Tube for LOLs in the first place. I cannot, for instance, stop off at Green Park on the way from Baker Street to Balham to go to the London Library. But if I’m exiting Green Park on a Tube for LOLs visit then I can go to the London Library. But these utilitarian purposes are strictly secondary to the melee of crazy aspirations motivating Tube for LOLs. (I’m a bit worried about words like ‘aspirations’ and ‘motivating’. They’re a bit high-falutin’. They imply rationality, seriousness and, well, purpose.)
7: I’ll visit them all during 2013.
8: There will be no pre-planning, no research.
9: Like all good sets of rules there will be updates and clarifications as required.
Clarification: Tuesday 12 February
I got the number of stations wrong. There aren’t 376 of them, there are only 367. Yippee!
Research into whether or not tube lines are running at weekends is allowed. If one or more tube lines are closed, due say to planned maintenance, then it is allowable to use the appropriate ‘Rail Replacement Bus’. Not that anyone in their right mind would use a ‘Rail Replacement Bus’.
The West Lothian Question
Andrew, my son, brings up what could be called the ‘West Lothian Question’ of Tube for LOLs. The ‘West Lothian Question’ is beloved of the British political commentariat and Tory MPs. It states: why should a Scottish MP (say the MP for West Lothian) vote on matters which affect only people living in England. Tory MPs are keen on the ‘West Lothian Question’ because there aren’t any Tory MPs in Scotland, or if there is, there’s only one of them. If the Tories could get rid of Scotland, then they’d get shot of a shedload of Scottish Labour MPs and they, the Tories, would have an everlasting in-built majority at Westminster. That’s why, though they think they hate Alex Salmond, deep down they see him as an agent of salvation. They’d love it if Scotland went independent. Seats for life! Preferment for life! Duck houses for life! Self-interest masquerading as principle? Or self-interest complementing principle? You choose.
In the case of Tube for LOLs, the question is: when is a station really two stations. Andrew has noted that Clapham North (Northern line) and Clapham High Street (Overground) are shown as linked. But they’re linked only in that they’re round the corner from each other: one has to leave one station (me beeping out with my Coffin Dodger’s pass aka Freedom Pass), walk alongoutside on the street (horror!) and enter the other station (beeping in). Beep! Beep!
Andrew, who is if anything even more of a stickler for the rules – especially when they apply to me – is adamnant. In such cases, they have to be treated as two different stations. Reluctantly, I agree. After Clapham Common, I’ll have to take the Northern line to Stockwell (two stops), then the Victoria line to Victoria (three steps), next the District line to West Brompton (five stops) and last the Overground via Clapham Junction to Clapham High Street (four stops). The next trip, Clapham High Street to Clapham Junction is a one-stop dawdle. But the station after that is Clapham North and I’ll have to do the first journey in reverse. Unless, of course, I opt for variety and take the Overground to Canada Water (seven stops), board the Jubilee to London Bridge (two stops), and then transfer to the Northern Line to Clapham North (six stops). Mentally, I gird my loins. Such things are sent to try me.