150 years of the Tube
Tomorrow is the 150th anniversary of the first passenger journey on the London Tube. As a ‘Mind the Gap’ voice, I’ve been spending the entire week celebrating.
150 years of tube travel is quite an amazing thing. Those deep, dark tunnels thrumming with people, movement and those fast, packed, metal boxes. They’re strange places, those stations. Super busy during the day…and full of mice and thick air at night. How they’re such a big part of Londoners’ lives. How they offered essential shelter during the war: sleepy children and blankets, sing-songs and snogs. Oh the stories that must’ve started in those stations…
Interestingly, the people who’ve been most interested in this anniversary are the Germans. They’re fascinated by the Tube! I’ve done press and telly interviews for them. They were very polite and – I really do mean this – INCREDIBLY well organised.
“We will be arriving at the nearest train station to your premises at 8.49 am; we will film a short interview featuring you, your studio and some of your amusing announcements; we will have left by 11.59.”
Another Tube fan is Mark Mason, a genius writer who pennedWalk The Lines, a book about, well, walking the lines. He emailed me:
Mark: Has anyone contacted you about the 150th anniversay of the Tube?
Me: Yes. Anyone contacted you??
Me: Were they German?
It was a stupid question. Of course they were German.
Also, BBC5Live were kind (mad?) enough to ask me to record some special announcements to play in their Breakfast Show. Wanna hear them? Well, here they are.
A friend suggested that I release a special spoof announcement on my website to mark the occasion.
“What would I say?” I whined.
“Oh come on,“ he said. “Surely, SURELY you know what I’m thinking?”
There was a pause.
“You can’t mean..?”
“Yes. Yes, I do.”
I gasped in horror. “But it could so easily be perceived as disrespectful! I don’t want to create another tabloid moment! And it’s such an honour and a privilege to be a Mind the Gap voice! I’d hate to denegrate it with a cheap, opportunist gag!”
“Oh get over yourself, you self-righteous cow.”
Reader, I admit it, I’m very tempted to record it. Can you imagine it as a ringtone? A text alert? It could be top fun. Oh, I can hear it now:
“MIND THE TWAT!”