McGuinness on…how the tube connects the people

Posted on February 22, 2011


From the busiest airport in Europe to a land known to most drunks as the most hilarious abuse of the poetic licence afforded to town namers, from the world famous film studios in the West to the forest where Dick Turpin camped out in the East, the underground truly connects the people.

And those people, 4 million each day it has been estimated (I’ll follow up with a bit o’ data journalism later in the month), must surely appreciate the wonder of the most elaborate subterranean transport network in the world, right?

Perhaps we’re destined to be misery guts(es). We get to work a few minutes later than we would like, and we complain. Not necessarily in any formal capacity – that’s far too much like ignoring the spirit of the Blitz – but we do all bitch and moan about how uncomfortable the journey may have been or how annoying it is to arrive a little later than planned.

Here’s a thought – get up earlier. Or leave later, although how that will get you to where you need to be any sooner may be debated by the philosophers.

Bundled together as the commuter package

This morning, for the first time in as long as I can remember, people actually felt strongly enough about the way that a man had acted in getting off the train that there was actually a scuffle. Although both people were disembarking at Moorgate, so it made little difference in the long-run as their differences were likely sorted by the time one might have decided not to walk up the escalators, leaving the other to disappear into relative white space.

But while I may romanticise it here, that probably at least shows that we’re human. After all, allowing such subtle aggression to go unpunished would suggest a robot-like persona, which is worse in the long run. While we may obey the unwritten rules of etiquette and power through where we can, at times it’s nice to remember that we’re only human. And the tube, for all its woes and worries, stresses and strains, strengths and subterranean superiority, brings us closer together.

Not always in a particularly comfortable sense, but it performs a duty.