As the fine denizens of London town know, each tube line has a distinct personality and range of mood swings. The Victoria Line, for example, breezy and reliable. The Jubilee Line, the young disappointment of the family, branching out to the suburbs, eternally having extensions planned, twisting round to Greenwich, and back under the river out east somewhere. The District and Circle Line, well, even Death would rather fork out for a taxi if he’s in a hurry. Crammed with commuters for King’s Cross or Paddington, and crammed with museum-bound tourists who don’t know the craftier short-cuts, it's as bad as how I remember Tokyo. I had a professor once who asked us to prove that the Circle Line really does go in a circle. Nobody could. I was dead impressed at the time. Now what impresses me is that he'd persuaded someone to pay him to come up with that sort of tosh. Docklands Light Railway, the noveau riche neighbour, with its Prince Regent, West India Quay and its Gallions Reach and its Royal Albert. Stentorian Piccadilly wouldn’t approve of such artyfartyness, and nor would his twin uncle, Bakerloo. Central, the middle-aged cousin, matter-of-fact, direct, no forking off or going the long way round. That's about it for the main lines, except the Metropolitan which is too boring to mention, except that it’s a nice fuschia colour and you take it to visit the dying.
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Thought my London readers might enjoy this passage from David Mitchell's excellent Ghostwritten, which I finished at the weekend. So here it is.