Friday, 23 March 2012

Victory and Misery

If I could choose a tube line to stick to, I would definitely choose Victoria Line. I like the name, sounds very patriotic, like winning, Victory, but apart from the name, that apparently is also known as 'The Banana Line', is its functionality and shape itself.

Never been to Walthamstow, never planned, but Tottenham Hale takes you yo Cambridge, to Stansted Airport and to Ikea, first stop of those that have recently move to north London. Haven't been in ages, literally. Seven Sisters, never been and don't plan to either. Finsbury Park, dearest neighbourhood. Dodgy, most probably, but it is those little gems spreaded around the hood for you to find and not be bored on weekends.  Highbury & Islington, the place where I would choose to life. Quirky little posh area with a hub for the overground, main door to the East End.

Then usual Central London stops. Kings, Euston, Warren Street (Taco night!), Oxford Circus, loved (for the shops) but loathed (for the crowds). Green Park, only used to change, Victoria is your dearest friend when you are catching a flight, Pimlico my first neighbourhood (I was so naïve back then). Vauxhall bad memories, house of the impressive MI5. Stockwell, what? Brixton, new found land and house of one of my friends. Need to explore the South.

Opened back in the 60s, first fully automated line. Fast as hell, North to South, new shinny trains. Last year they retired the '67 stock with a very emotive farewell. Missed that.

Too good to be true. So fast, so reliable that just cannot cope. Already reached its capacity a couple of years ago. Still my loved one.

Then we have the usual hated ones, the pack of District, Circle, Metropolitan and last but not least Hammersmith & City. Clattering all along the line, old tracks, old stock of carriages. Wider and lighter because they are mostly 'overground', but slow, old, smelly and always disrupted. First thing a learnt from there: avoid those lines at all cost. It's a pity, as they take you to remote corners of the city, from the swankyness of Richmond to the very indian East Ham. Not the most pleasant journeys.

We also have Picadilly. I don't like it as much as Victoria, but I consider it her (oh, now I am considering Victoria a 'female' line) little big sister. Slow, as for being one of the oldest (not as old as the previous Dream Team), but quite old. North to North West or South West. From the funny but probably never visited Cockfosters to the very convenient Heathrow Airport. It calls at all central London hottest spots, Leicester, Picadilly, Covent Garden, but so many stops make the journey long and boring. An undisclosed source, in reality a friend of mine, commented that apparently it is considered the Gay Line. Still haven't found a reason or an explanation.

Overground. Lovely new refurbished carriages and extended C-facing-down-shape line that has discovered me the beauty of East London. Back when I moved in, not very long ago, visiting the cockney side involved a very tedious journey on the 653/654 of an hour long. Alternatively, it required to use the dream time line, when not disrupted, walking and engineering to reach the desired point. Now the shinny little trains can take me to the Olympic site in a blink of an eye in carriages that look pretty much as good as the ones from my hometown.

We also have Bakerloo. Hybridised name between Baker (Street) and Waterloo station, is a bland line connecting certainly odd corners of the city. Never gone further up than Marylebone, down to Elephant and Castle, its carriages are most probably from the 70s. The knackered moquette from the seats and unpleasant brown of the line colour made it always look pretty odd to me. There is one little feature that still catches my eye everyday: its moon-shaped wall lamps with very white light. Light that reflects on the glass separators between the sections of the carriage, that act like a mirror multiplying the reflection of the light. Weird vision of infinite moons inside a carriage, like putting to mirrors in front of another and you're in between. Curious effect. I like it.

Northern line, apparently widely know as misery line. It is annoying enough as it is as branched as bushy tree. Chaotic interchange at Euston where you seriously consider tossing a coin to choose the adequate platform for your destination. Must say it is my 3rd most reliable option in case of disruption of my daily commute, but just had to use it once. Trains are a sad stock from the 90s probably. Horrible frequency between trains makes you really think about the misery of using the line. The exchange between Victoria and Misery at King's Cross can give you nightmares of infinite walking along the corridors and feeling of despair in between. I learnt better ways to reach Angel without using it.

Then we have Central. My hero one when I moved in here as it took me to my favourite spots of the city, and its horizonal layout makes it easy, pleasant to the eye and kind of comforting. From Notting Hill Gate to Bank, stopping at Marble Arch, Oxford and Tottenham Court Road. It is a shame that its carriages, similar stock to Northern, are gloomy little cans, kind of sad to travel in. Highly disrupted lately, has lost points on my list of favourite ones. Long time ago.

Jubilee Line. Grey. Disturbing. Disrupted. Eternal fail. One of the newest line. Suicide-proof in some of the stations, has a weird path across the city, from North to Southbank and then to the East. Feels cold. Its newly refurbished stations have been reinforced with metal panels. Looks modern, clean and solid, you can tell it was done for functional reasons. Speedy hubs for City workers. Waterloo, Canary Wharf, Stratford, London Bridge. Just by mentioning the name you picture Suits, coffee in hand, full suitcases and no time for social mercy until they have reached their destination. Big and important line, unexplicably faulty 24/7.

Waterloo & City. Pendular line consisting on just Point A and Point B. Purely functionalised to convey the flow of City Commuters coming from commuter towns around the South West of London. Characterised by its sweet and innocent pastel green, its probably one of the greatest unknowns for ordinary commoners from London. Often closed on the weekends, is one of those lines that none of your friends have ever used. You know it is there, but there is never a reason good enough to trial test it. There is no need for it though. Why would you like to suffer the pain of the most overcrowded station, Bank-Monument just for the sake of your curiosity?


That's what I will be doing my next day off.

But again, that's another story. 
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