Tag Archives: Crossrail

My Life As A Chameleon (76/80)

Post 76 of 80. Friday 22 November  – West India Quay (Square D7 on the Tube map), West Kensington (D3), Westminster (D4), West Ruislip (A1)

I’ve been asked many times, Why do you do no research beforehand about the Tube stations and places you’re about to visit? Surely that’s a recipe for disaster or, at least, for missing what is important, unusual, beautiful about those places? My answer is simple – since importance, rarity and beauty are in the eyes of the beholder, I don’t want to see those places through the eyes of others. As far as is possible, I want to see them afresh, new, as though this was the very first time human eyes had been clapped upon them. And, as much as possible, I wish to leave whatever happens to chance. But how much are seeing afresh and random happenings possible?   Continue reading

Around The Tube In Eighty Posts (59/80)

Wednesday 4 September  – Rotherhithe (Square D7 on the Tube map), Royal Albert (D9), Royal Oak (C3), Royal Victoria (D8), Ruislip (A1)

‘Ah-ha!’ I hear my readers – from Catford, South London via Manila in the Philippines to Sackville, New Brunswick – say over their morning breakfast, their toast poised ‘twixt plate and mouth. ‘All becomes clear. Mr TubeforLOLs  is modelling himself on Jules Verne’s Phileas Fogg. Hmm, The Wee Professor must be Fogg’s manservant, Passepartout. But The Inner Curmudgeon? Could he be Fix the detective who mistakenly takes Fogg for a bank-robber?’

Then those Verne-fans amongst you will remember that the Maestro initially published Eighty Days in serial form with the final episode hitting the streets on 21 December 1872, the same date that Fogg was due to return to London. And that many people reading the fictional serial thought that the journey was actually taking place …

And then, toast still mid-transit, the thought creeps up behind you cudgel in hand: perhaps Mr TubeforLOLs is doing the reverse of Phileas Fogg? Perhaps he is not really tubing around London but only sitting in front of his computer picking photos off the internet and spinning yarns? Perhaps all of this TubeforLOLs, all of it not the obvious fictional three-quarters, is stuff and nonsense …   Continue reading

The Ancient Mariner (56/80)

Tuesday 27 August – Preston Road (Square B3 on the Tube map), Prince Regent (D9), Pudding Mill Lane (C8), Putney Bridge (E3), Queensbury (A3), Queen’s Park (B3)

No multiple Londons vying for my attention today like a badly-shuffled deck of cards. Though today’s stations are, unfortunately but not unusually, dispersed rather too widely across this Great Metropolis and I am jostled, bounced and baked on the Jubilee, District, DLR and the (aptly named) Bakerloo; swayed, rocked and kept toasted nicely at medium heat (despite the best efforts of their air-conditioning) on Overground and Metropolitan lines for almost six hours today. I spend my three and a half hours visiting the stations’ neighbourhoods – observing, evaporating, taking on water, evaporating some more.

But shadows hang over the day, not eased by The Wee Professor’s statistical dissection of history. Aye! The Inner Curmudgeon explodes. And not helped either by your over-stuffed metaphors!   Continue reading

Mornington Crescent Blues (32/80)

Monday 29 April  – Farringdon (Square C6 on the Tube map), Finchley Central (A5), Finchley Road (B4), Finchley Road & Frognal (B4), Finsbury Park (B6)

It’s a lovely bright Spring day with a few puffs of cloud in a blue sky. But my mood is neither lovely, bright nor spring-like. I may have hauled myself from Saturday’s Pit of Misery but I’m stuck axle-deep in the Slough of Despond.

And unlike John Bunyan’s Christian, who most famously got bogged down in the Slough of D. back in the seventeenth century, my quest won’t end in the ‘Celestial City’ (otherwise known as Heaven). Me, I’ll wind up, in another 250+ stations, at Woolwich Arsenal.

Woolwich Arsenal? All this travelling from boring empty-headed suburb to benighted inner-city neighbourhood, most of it underground in noisy, dirty, jam-packed, shuddering, wretched, virus-breeding-ground transport-capsules, and I end up at Woolwich Arsenal? Even Richard Dawkins might consider a quick surreptitious prayer to the Almighty rather than that.   Continue reading

Of Dinosaurs and Diggers, Clippers and Men (22/80)

Tuesday 2 April  – Crystal Palace (Square F6 on the Tube map), Custom House for ExCel (D9), Cutty Sark for Maritime Greenwich (E7), Cyprus (D9)

The sun is out but it’s cold and the gusting wind is savage. The platforms at Forest Hill, as they have been nearly every day since the far side of Christmas, are scattered with salt. The salt comes in small spherical pellets like ball-bearings. It’s gritty under foot and gives off a pungent chemical odour.

I think of other descriptions for the salt. A peppering of salt? That gets the gritty pungency but … A mixing of condiments if not of metaphors. A confetti of salt? That’s good on the drifts of salt around pillars and in corners, but it’s too up-beat, too ceremonial. I think of hundreds-and-thousands of salt. But you can’t compare a station platform with a cupcake. My mind stretches for comparisons with the pointilliste school of painting, of Georges Seurat’s famous painting, Snow and Salt at Forest Hill Station with Old Geezer.

Hmm! There’s too much to talk about fanciful descriptions of pellets of salt. It’s understandable, of course. Understandable because, today, I’m flushed with excitement. Why? …   Continue reading

A Trumpet Teacher, Muslim Revert, Podium Finish and a Neon Signmaker to the Stars (12/80)

Friday 22 February – Boston Manor (D1 in TfL’s Index to stations), Bounds Green (A6), Bow Church (C7), Bow Road (C8)  

It’s 10.20 am and tiny dancing diatoms of snow are skipping haphazardly across the sky. Some, perhaps most, will eventually reach the ground. First stop for me today is Boston Manor.

Chubb’s chumps declares the front page of the Metro. This refers to the case of the bungling Islamic terrorists: apparently the leader’s nickname is ‘Chubb’. I change at Canada Water and squeeze on to the Jubilee. The young guy at my left elbow is reading a manual in German and English called Beginning to Play the Trumpet. It turns out he teaches the trumpet. The manual, he thinks, is pretty weird  …  Continue reading