Thursday, 21 October 2010

Tunnel Vision

Monday morning.

Severe delays reported on the Metropolitan line.

Leave house and get on Met line train at North Harrow stn. Husband calls to say has just arrived at work (in Holborn) and to switch at Finchley Road because train took ages to get from Finchley Road to Baker Street on the metropolitan line.

Arrive at Finchley Road and swap over the platform to get on a Jubilee Line train to Green Park. Sit for 5 minutes in the station.

Train plunges into darkness… nothing. Can no longer read Metro article about alleged nookie between X Factor contestants Katie Waissel and Matt Cardle… damn!

Driver announces there has been a power failure and assures us there will be information shortly.

Driver makes his way down the entire length of the train. Announces once at the back that we will be walking back to St John’s Wood station… in the tunnel. But he has to isolate that end and the staff from St John’s Wood need to walk down to meet us.

Passenger has asthma attack – calls for medical aid rumble through the cars like chinese whispers.

Sporadic lighting comes on in the surrounding tunnel. Hmmm, try to resume X Factor gossip catch up. Give up, play Solitaire on iPhone instead.

The driver – still at the back of the train – announces that actually he may be able to start the train and get us to Baker Street. Sighs of relief all round. He returns back through the train, thanking passengers for their patience: ‘Not that you have much choice, mind.’ Muffled laughter – heavy irony.

Driver back in his car announces the train will most definitely not start and that instead we will be walking the half-hour track hike to Baker Street, but we must wait for the police and station staff to arrive first to guide us through the tunnel.

Another girl has panic attack – fellow passenger gives up his seat to her (a bit late if you ask me). Offer her rescue remedy, she shuns it in favour of a bottle of water. Oh well, all the more for me then!

The driver announces that actually we will not be walking to Baker Street – man on crutches emits sigh of relief – we will now be walking to St John’s Wood… hmmm.

The police, station staff and our driver make their way through to the end of the train as some passengers verbally attack the police with exasperated cries of, ‘Well what the hell are we supposed to do now?!’ to which the police officers reply, ‘I don’t know… get a bus or something.’

There is movement at the far end of our carriage – people are starting to move towards the end of the train. We start walking. Thankful for UGG boots – heels stowed in heavy gym bag slung over right shoulder with precious Zara bag carefully balanced on right arm along with scarf and coat – desperately in need of a shower…

It’s dark, no sign of rodent life so far…

There is a light at the end of the tunnel… literally!! Various voices echo this sentiment, laughing at their own wit… oh please people... get a grip!

Nice man in orange vest offers a hand as I clamber out of the darkness up some narrow steps and onto the platform of St John’s Wood – am greeted by more men in orange, and a water fountain… with no water!

Stop to capture one last image of epic tunnel journey…

Am now out of the deserted station – smokers immediately block my path with furious puffing on assorted brands of cigarette. Try to call work – no answer on any phone. Leave message on one colleague’s phone. Mobile dies… regret amount of Solitaire playing on train. Wonder what to do now… need the loo and need to get to Green Park. Mum works at hospital two minute walk away, decide to make a pit stop… oh, what if Mum also stuck in tunnel. Call… she answers, is at work. Good – walk to hospital.

Been to loo, been fussed over by Mum and Mum’s colleagues. Offered tea, coffee and biscuits. Have cup of water and one biscuit.

Try to call work again – still no answer. Google central switchboard number and call – get through to temp who informs me that everyone in meeting. Tell her to pass on message of morning tube hell and that phone has died. Will try to get bus.

Mum suggests cup of tea, decline and insist that I must go in search of a bus. Routes discussed. Leave.

Miss intended bus, no.13. Wait at bus stop with fellow Italian mothers and their precocious offspring, elderly people and assorted professionals.

Bus arrives – not mine, but going to Baker Street so hop on.

Arrive Baker Street – endure slight conundrum – waver between approaching no.13 bus and entrance to Baker Street tube station. No.13 doesn’t stop, forced to attempt the tube station. Accost station staffer who confirms that Green Park is open and Victoria Line is running. Thank him and make mad dash to Bakerloo line.

Arrive at work. Light-headed from lack of food and fairly traumatic experience.

Monday afternoon
Regale employees and husband (via phone) of said traumatic experience. Much sympathy and offers to leave work early if necessary. Cancellation of evening dinner plans and brief contemplation of intended trip to gym – think best to leave all until tomorrow. Am still in shock.
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