The experience of travelling on the London Underground became a symbol of excitement and thrilling adventure for my daughter, who six months later still recites the names of stations like poetry and jumps up and down whenever she sees a scene with the Underground in a TV show (which seems to happen very often). Conversely for my son, the tube became a hated and feared (and exhausting) means of transport, and during the last couple of weeks of our stay, he even refused to ride them. He focused on the scary messages constantly boomed overhead “Please mind the gap between the train and the platform”; “If you feel unwell, please wait for the next station before seeking assistance”; “If you see unattended luggage, please alert staff immediately”. And while my daughter was captivated by the never-ending rows of fantastically colourful posters for musicals, luxury goods and London tourist sites which festooned the tube walls, my son was alarmed by an equally omnipresent series of minimally-designed and extremely graphic government posters in black, red and white plastered with the motif “ IT WON’T HURT ”. As in “IT WON’T HURT TO TAKE CARE ON THE ESCALATORS”, accompanied by a picture of a figure entangled in the long moving stairways, or “IT WON’T HURT TO WAIT FOR THE NEXT TRAIN”, with the figure toppling over the platform, onto the rails of death below. Trains, buses or the Overground were much preferred and we took longer routes to accommodate his aversion. Tonight I asked him what was his favourite place in London, and he said “home”. But I don’t know, and I forgot to ask, whether he meant the little home we had made for a few weeks with his aunt and uncle in London, by the edge of the Thames, or he meant the home here in Halifax, by the edge of the Atlantic.



One comment

  1. but you should mention the excellent musical entertainment at the underground stations. Buying a single tube ticket and riding for hours all the different lines (eventually leaving at the same station from where you came), you have a good chance to hear musicians playing and singing music from all around the world, each time you change from one line to the other. Going by bus, you have to be very lucky to hear Brother Parchment, the notorius singing bus driver, or Kev ‘Duke Bassie’, the singing conductor.
    greetings, Michael

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