Mind the gap

I hate the Piccadilly Line!

It’s slow, it’s rammed, trains go missing, and every stop is a pain in the ass. Like being stuck on the bus on Green Lanes for ages wasn’t enough – and just to cover about one mile and spare of a terribly trafficked road. 

So I finally go down the station and hear “Next train in…” – God only knows when.
‘Ooooh come ooon..!’
Then you can’t board the first coming train, nor the second. Maybe you get lucky with the third or fourth. You squeeze in, your face splashed onto the door, the armpit of the guy next to you right across your head smells like rotten shawarma, the killer breath of some girl on the other side and the bomb farts of some corporal terrorist who comfortably lets rip right in the middle of the train. They join forces to make your journey a memorable morning experience.

No complaints if it happened now and then but I kinda get the feeling that these people work in the TFL’s customer retention – or detention!

Result? I’m always late! At work, at night, when meeting friends. Thanks Shit-adilly Line!

Yet, it is the giant of the TFL, it is one of the most important lines in London – one of the longer and more paramount. It covers the distance from Cockfosters, through Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square, to Heathrow or Uxbridge (depending on the branch).
Trust me, I was so damn relieved when I moved to another place away from that line. So relieved that I no longer had to suffer from disruptions, delays and packed platforms.

In the beginning.

After a while, I came to realise that I totally relied on that route, that no matter what it would always take me home. I thought of how fast and efficient it was in its non-peak hours, that I felt so safe that I didn’t even need to pay attention to the stops. I would always know when to get on and off – Mind the gap! – and whatever the distance, in the end, I would always reach my destination.

But…yes… After a while, I began to feel the gap.
I realised I was missing something only when I had lost it. 

Isn’t that what we all do?

We all realised it when he went missing, when he was gone. We all felt like an important part of our daily journeys was just over. So used to have him travelling around, so used to his presence, that now his empty desk laying abandoned in a sharp silence is the gap we mind the most.

Yet, he was the giant of our team – always reliable and paramount, although…
Although he was secretly going through his peak hours, running way too long distances, even for a giant. 

Eventually, he had to slow down his journey and hasten his departure. He had to disrupt his roaming, delay his desires and take his belongings with him.

Ultimately, his train terminated here.

Good luck, dude.

Jim
The Britalian Post

Another stop goes by

One who lives in London must be prepared to spend most of the daily life travelling throughout the city. An average journey can take up to an hour and a half, so you happen to listen to artists’ complete discographies, read entire books and magazines, watch movies in HD – even countdown the days of your life! – or simply have long chats with your fellow commuters. 

Many of my journeys are spent in company of my cousin on the 341 bus route from Islington up to North London. That one is actually a pretty fast journey, a journey during which we are half of the time starving to death while the other half is dedicated to guilty feelings. Why? Obviously for the amount of food we have swallowed, not to mention the alcohol waterfalls. No objections, we are a very funny couple.

Now, as many may know, an automated bus speaker calls all the stops on the route, so that you’re always aware of when you need to get off. Also, in the very middle of the bus, and on the front windscreen on the upper deck, a screen indicates the stops as you’re approaching them along with the current hour. And that’s the salvation! 

Why is that?

When you’re not an English native, although your comprehension quickly gets to be good, rather than the speaking that requires more and more practice, you will not be totally familiar with the language and words can easily sneak out of your listening.

So here we are, sitting at the first seats at the entering doors, no screen. The voice calls the next stop and here’s what we hear:

Br/$#%y!@”3d Road

Puzzled expressions on our faces! Both witlessly disoriented: Br/$#…WHAT?!

(Yes, so lost in translation… See the connection with the blog’s title?! No, no, just in case some of you haven’t noticed.)

Therefore, more than often, the name of the stops that end with Road or Street seem to us to have quite the same sound. It’s like stops didn’t have a name but only a stuttering pronunciation – at least that’s what my cousin and I agreed to make life easier and feel less ignorant. So every time we hear the name of a stop or anything else we can’t clearly figure out, we just think: Br/$#%y!@”3d Road.

Honestly, took us a few weeks to catch the real name – we didn’t get it by ourselves and just saw it on the screen if you’re wondering. 

Eager to know what that actually is?! The stop is called Brownswood Road. 

I know what you folks are thinking but please bear with us poor immigrants.

And there we are, spending the time of our life in that bus talking about our daily fun and tragic facts, our love affairs gone bad, rumours from and about friends, the impossible dreams, the houses we’ll never be likely to afford in London, the travel we should be planning and, mainly, the body shape we’ll never get into.

Then stops went by as well as our journey.

And like a fictional flashback, I recall that girl. My companion of journeys on the Piccadilly line, my desk mate, an unknown foreign colleague that turned to be a friend. My friend, my chappette. And months later, in her effort to remain part of the tight team we created and hardly maintained against all odds–to still be a partner of the mutual complicity we built–she was just sent away without hesitation. For a mistake. For she was a human being. For not giving up. 

She disappeared in a finger snap and we didn’t even get to say goodbye. 

Time went by, she went by, and people quickly forgot. 

Our good morning coffees, our Paris, our tube pictures, our last teardrops, all vanished in feeble and concealed memories so that today I’m almost sure this all might have happened in my mind. And I keep asking myself…How’s she doing? Is she still loved? What’s her name? 

…Is she real?

Oh… Perhaps I just made her up. Perhaps she never existed and she’s just another stop that went by.

Jim
The Britalian Post

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