Thursday, March 22, 2012

Cat in a tube

I'm quite lucky with my cat. It's a remarkably placid creature - this means "you can take it on public transport without it turning into a screaming vortex of claws and diarrhea". The cat's just been to Cardiff for a week. She thoroughly enjoyed being doted on in a strange house full of stairs and spent the journey back asleep under the passenger seat of my boss's car.

She's even just about fine on the Tube. The best thing about her is that I've actually had natural, unforced conversations with strangers on the tube because of her.

Let me make this clear. I hate it when backpackers and travelling magicians suddenly announce "Good morning Central Line, why so glum? I'm gonna put a smile on some strangers' faces cos back home where I come from [Brisbane/Bournemouth], well, gee, folks just talks to each other all the time."

This is the London. We are not "folks". We have our ipods, the Metro and staring. We need little else. We certainly do not need someone in shorts full of the wonders of life to do card tricks before realising that all they have to look forward to is a shift at the Walkabout and sharing a room with 14 other travellers-not-tourists and a vegan coeliac a long way off the Goldhawk Road.

That said, the brilliant recent series about The Tube has shown that London does have a heart after all. And that we should, perhaps, show it more. Watching The Tube has made me realise I should be a nicer person on The Tube as it's not TFL's fault. Most of the time.

Watching The Tube also makes you realise that passengers are pretty much the problem. Although I do think that, if they brought back booing as a polite way of expressing disapproval, we'd all be a lot better off. It's certainly more socially acceptable than tutting or punching a hapless TFL worker. And yes, I'm looking at you, vile cow from episode three who rolled her eyes and said "well, really" when told that the Victoria Line was closed because someone had fallen onto it.

Anyway, taking a cat on the underground is a great way of redressing the balance. Yesterday a lovely woman started talking to me (through the cat, admittedly), saying how much she wished she had a cat of her own. We ended by wishing each other a good day, just like we were...

... Victorians. That's it. Bring back Victorian politeness. After all, it's only a matter of time before the government brings back the Workhouse. Why not bring back quaintness too?

1 comment:

The Code Crimson said...

I've always quite liked the Tube, especially compared to the New York Subway, or the Metrorail we have down here in Miami, where you see things like a homeless gentleman carrying a dead shark like a baby. For someone accustomed to American maniacs, the Tube has always seemed reserved and polite. However, I have met up with at least one amusing madwoman on the Tube that rivals the crazies in the US.

I was one of those idealistic young backpackers on the last night of a long trip through Europe, heading to Heathrow sometime past midnight. My friend and I were sitting and chatting quietly when a strung-out woman of an indeterminate age anywhere between 25 and 55 stood in front of us announced, "Oh, you're Americans! Like the song!"

And then she proceeded to sing "Baby got Back" by Sir Mix-a-Lot. The entire song.

My friend and I stared at her wide-eyed as the rest of the passengers slowly and politely backed away. And that's the strangest thing I've ever experienced on any public transportation.