Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Travel: Sunday, 28 May 2006 (3): Grey Anatomy

Getting around in London is one of the main problems I have with the city. It’s vast, over-filled and there are always bits of the transport infrastructure that are bunged up or just plain broken.

Driving is nearly always a bad idea except late at night.
Buses are plentiful and their redness likens them to the life-blood of London However London is grossly overweight and smokes heavily so that clotting and coronaries are frequent.
Black cabs are expensive and tend to be driven by people for whom Margaret Thatcher was a liberal.
Minicabs are driven by murderers, rapists, hijackers or if you’re very lucky merely someone without a driving licence and with no idea of the geography of London.
The underground on the whole is pretty good, if a tad expensive. It goes to most places and is quite efficient when it is running. Mostly it is running, but every now and again there is a hiccup. Because of the colour and general cleanliness of the underground trains, the underground could be considered the intestines of London. However London is a bizarre body where the intestines are a much better way to get around than the bloodstream. Unfortunately there are definitely times where the system gets very constipated.

Today it wasn’t constipation causing problems but surgery. Surgery on a busy section during a bank holiday weekend. Lancaster Gate was finally having some repairs / renovations, probably first recommended in the 1940s. Quite possibly the gasmask cupboard was having a new door fitted or something like that. Consequently, the station was open... but it was closed. I’ll repeat that: it was open... but it was closed. That is, you could walk in and buy tickets but not go down to the trains and actually use them. If you made a move towards the barriers, one of the four-or-so London Underground Ground Staff (LUGS) hanging around there rushed over and told you the station was closed. After a while, they cottoned onto the idea of telling people before they went into the station and bought a ticket. Fortunately London’s transport systems are a little bit integrated and if you bought an underground ticket there is often provision to use them on buses, especially when chunks of the intestine is blocked or being operated on by the good doctors at Laing. Anyway we had a travelcard each which works on any public transport. Thus we were able to hop on one of the intermittently frequent buses to the next working station.

All this happened after we were already one hour late so we were not very “chuffed” as they say. Eventually, after riding the underground, which has not changed one bit in the 5 years I have been away, we arrived at Covent Garden, Tourist Market and collection point for London’s street performers.

No comments: