Log in

No account? Create an account
Previous Entry Share Next Entry
They've all got it in for me... or at least the Tube has.

For thirty years I have been one of the several thousands of CivilServants and ex-Civil Servants who are subjects of the largest and longest health study in the world, the Stress and Health study, which, every three years or so puts the participants through a series of health (blood pressure, ECG, physical movement, blood tests) and mental tests and collects lots of other data via a written, verbal and, latterly, computer questions.

So not long ago I got the usual got round of letter (we will be calling), phone call to make an appointment (we called), letter confirming (plus loads of bumpf including massive health and lifestyle questionnaire and consent form) and final let's jog your mind telephone call - they are nothing if not thorough - I arranged the appointment for early yesterday morning, made sure I had filled in everything and written everything and set off rather too early, because I commuted on the Tube for over twenty years and I am not sanguine about their service and, with TCR (sorry, Tottenham Court Road station) closed, it meant a change of line.

You might have known that the whole journey went swimmingly, and I had time to top up my Oyster card, do a bit of shopping at two different pharmacies, and walk not only from Warren Street to the University Polyclinic - and that's another thing: why the heck does a highly respectable and respected scientific study always find itself in 'complementary medicine' venues such as the Polyclinic or the Homeopathic hospital? - but have a stroll around and still arrive 25 minutes early.

As usual, I quite enjoyed the actual medical examination and tests, and was done by 11:30, so I wandered back to Warren Street picking up lunch on the way.

So, having made allowances for the tube problems coming in an encountering none, I stepped blithely into Warren Street, glanced up at the electronic board that shows the level of service and...uhuh. The red block (the dear old Central Line) informed me cheerfully that it wasn't running past Liverpool Street (another suicide or, as LRT so cheerfully puts it, "person under a train.")

This is the moment when, despite being retired nearly six years, old instincts cut right in. I was standing next to a Victoria Line station. If I could get Ina to pick me up by car at Walthamstow station I wouldn't be much later than I would be if the Central Line was running. Phoned home. No answer. Phoned Ina's mobile. Switched off.

The journey home by bus from the Victoria Line stations is long and torturous. So, best Mainline to Ilford, then bus, which means getting to Liverpool Street avoiding the Central Line. Up to King's Cross on the Victoria, then change to the Circle, Met or Hammersmith and City and on to Liverpool Street.

At Liverpool Street I checked the Central Line but, though trains were starting to run again it was 'subject to severe delays' on the entire line. So I wandered over to the far platforms, picked up a Shenfield train about to leave, and, at Ilford, caught a 150 within a couple of minutes. It took me an hour and a half instead of the hour and ten it ought to have, but that isn't bad.

Once a London commuter, always a London commuter. I'm glad I haven't forgotten...

  • 1
My other half's a civil servant but works at 1 Vic Street up towards the Houses of Parliament so he only has a short walk from Victoria of a morning.

We lived in North Acton for a time and had to commute the $%^&*! central line for some years. Since I worked down Penge way at that time, it was great to go against the flow.

Hey, Ina and I lived on Hereford Road in North Acton for a couple of years when I first came to London (and, by coincidence her then flatmate was moving out.) That would have been around 1981 to 1982.

I've commuted on the Central Line (both ends) for most of my time down here (except when Ina and I bought a flat at Wembley Park having decided we'd never save enough for individual deposits.) One of my bosses used to call us 'Central Line Zombies'. One of the first things you learn - and one of the first things you teach friends who visit regularly and venture out on their own - is alternative routes.

We lived on Western Avenue- that very thirties block called Wendover Court up towards Park Royal.

The District line is my most common turf these days.

I remember Wendover Court. I don't envy you the noise and the dirt. When we lived in Newbury Park our house was a few hundred yards from the A12 and we had to keep the windows closed...

It's why, after seven years, I eventually persuaded him to move back down to my home turf in Kent. We're still close enough to London to enjoy all the good bits.

Just reading this makes me miss London so badly.

Also, even though it's been five years since my last visit, I still have my Oyster card in my wallet. Just waiting to be topped off. :-D

Hope to see you if you make it again.

Nowadays they are closing all the ticket offices so you have to top your card using credit or debit cards (or cash) in ticket machines. It's pretty easy, though.

Once a London commuter, always a London commuter.

Indeed. After 40 years in the north-east, durham_rambler still leads us unerringly to the cross-platform changes...

I am not in the least surprised.

When I lived in London, I determined that if you could safely negotiate a journey involving the District Line, Northern Line and Circle Line, you had earned the right to call yourself a Londoner.

Well done, for lateral journey thinking.

I remember standing on a District Line platform and watching a large and loud American who had a huge trail of other tourists following close behind because he had plainly got it sussed.

He told them their destination, then, in firm tones which lines they were using (using the colours, which Londoners can be snotty about, though I don't see why) and where they would change, then said, "Follow me!" and they all did. I thought he was great. I've known Londoners who can't do that.

I do have an advantage in that I live with my best friend, who is a native, and while I have always worked somewhere along the river, in the City and the Southbank, at one stage of my so-called career I had to find my way to company and government offices across Greater London - across the country, in fact. I've visited most of the capital's museums, theatres and other tourist attractions, as well as cat breeders, and have lived to the west (Acton), the North (Wembley Park) and the East (Hackney,Newbury Park and Chigwell.) We didn't have access to a car for over ten years and we never drive in Central London if we can help it. The result is that we are pretty clued up.

I lived in North London. just above Kings Cross. As a relief chef, I worked all over the city, The City , Westminster, Covent Garden, north and south of the river, - you name it; wore out 3 copies of the A-Z and was pretty nifty on the Tube, although preferred the busses when I had time.

Still miss London occasionally. Those were some of the funnest years of my life.

And I, a non-Londoner, thought I was the bees knees for knowing that H&C takes you onto the bridge at Paddington (v useful) and knowing that Paddington to Euston is best achieved by getting off at Euston Square and walking.

I can see I have a great deal to learn!

People forget the overground (unless they live south of the river) and the long distance buses. Not to mention the river buses.

I have started to venture onto the buses, but I didn't know about the long distance ones. I still think riding the night bus would be exciting, but all my London friends look at me with horror!

I was really keen to get the river bus last time I was in London, but alas, I had limited time and couldn't find two points I wanted to be at that it would carry me between. Boo hiss.

When 7/7 happened, we had kittens in the nest and were desperate to get home. We took the river bus(which was the only transport still running) from the National Theatre pier up to Greenwich, walked through the tunnel under the river and started to walk home (which would have been, I suppose, about ten miles.) We were lucky - a taxi turned up. But we've walked late at night from Hyde Park to Acton before now, when the stations were closed because of overcrowding after a firework display...

It's not that they are SO dangerous, but that they stink of vomited curry and piss.

I am seriously impressed by your TfL fu

I've lived and worked in the London area for over thirty years. I ought to know my way around by now. Mind you, the reason we know where Walthamstow and Blackhorse Road are, and which buses go past them is that our car dealer/service people are at Walthamstow, and we used to leave our car there to be serviced and walk to the station. Later on, Ina would take the car in and come back home by bus. Nowadays we insist on a courtesy car...

Thank you for continuing to take part, especially when it's a bit of a pain (like this time). Attrition rates are so high for longitudinal studies that every participant is precious.

Part of the attrition rate is due to the fact that I was only just, at 36, old enough to be invited to take part, and I am now 66. A lot of the original participants are dead, or can't face the travel.

enjoyed this even if i don't know London
i imagine after all these years and the fact that names have changes i could still get from the east side to the west side NYC without ever going above ground

Sounds like a perfectly acceptable alternative route to me!

My problem these days is that I'm beginning to have problems going down stairs, particularly if I'm carrying anything. Up stairs has its own problems, but down is worse! So I tend to look at routes with level changes or with lifts/escalators between lines, otherwise it's often bus. I still maintain that you can get to most places in London using two buses, or at most three (well, from here I can...).

The problem with buses is the time they take - and various company's habit of stopping the bus short of its destination to get back to time. Living at one end of a bus route therefore becomes problematic. I used to live in Sheffield, which had a wonderful bus service until the government forced the council to privatise - it still ain't bad.

Since the congestion charge using buses in the central part of London has become much more possible - in days when I was late out of work and couldn't face the crush of the Victoria tube station (or when it was closed for overcrowding) it was quicker to get a bus to Marble Arch and catch the Central Line from there - and you'd have a seat for most of the journey.

  • 1