Severed, cut off, isolated. The blue vein has been blocked, the tunnels are silent, and I’m breathing through a brown paper bag. The Victoria line closure between Seven Sisters and Walthamstow does not come as a shock or surprise. I’ve not it was coming for some time, I’ve simply taken that “Yea, I’ll think about that next weekend” approach. Sadly the weekend arrived, the tube was closed, and I had done absolutely no thinking. I thought I would have some kind of plan by now, some magic and stress free way to get in out of the Stow during August, But I haven’t. Come Monday Morning I will likely be stood in a zombie like daze, starring at the closure notices that I have already read a hundred times, wondering what the hell I’m going to do.
I had intended to get on the train at St James and go back a few stops, before getting off and heading back towards Liverpool Street. Those plans have been scuppered because St James is going to be exit only between peak hours. Exit only, I thought that was the kind of stuff that only happened at Covent Garden to help control the souvenir hungry tourists. I did not expect to find exit only at my local station. Exit only means far more than simply exit only, it means I’m going to have to get up early and walk to central. Exit only means that I have not in any way, found any way to cheat the system, it means I have failed, utterly and completely failed.
On Saturday I decided to grab the bull by the horns and go out and investigate the situation. I started at St James Street where I yet again read the notices, all of which had resolutely refused to change overnight. I then went to central station where I stood for sometime looking at the rail replacement bus stop. The young man looking after the stop eventually came over and asked if I was lost, Yes, I thought to my self, I am lost, but not in the way he thought. Spotting a number of orange clad tube workers I thought I’d go and look at them instead, I don’t really know why. One of the chaps said helpfully “Sorry mate, no more tube for the rest of this month”, I smiled a nervous smile and replied “Just thought I’d come and see how you boys were getting on, I bet you are all hot down there”. Not even I could tell if I was just being friendly or coming on to them, oh god, what on earth was I doing.
What would Bear Grylls do? he can survive all sorts of situations, so he would have some kind of plan wouldn’t he? But then, his plan would probably involve drinking his own pee, which as useful as that may be if you are stuck in the Sahara, I just don’t think would achieve anything here, other than making me throw up. I need to look to myself, I grew up in the country side where public transport was an mystical thing that lived only in the city. I walked and hiked all the place getting to where I needed to be. Thing is though, I’m a soft shandy land city boy now, I’m too used to the convenience of tubes and buses and trains. My inner adventurer has been replaced by a slightly soft outer 38 year old, a 38 year old who still has no idea how he’s getting to work on Monday.
There’s only one thing for it, I shall simply rely on substances to get me through this. Nothing illegal you understand, just those off the shelf substances that, if applied in the correct quantities, make things seem less important. I think I’ll start with tea, just standard one tea bag in a mug tea. If things get bad I can always double bag, and maybe have some wine. And there’s always Mothers ruin Gin, and vodka, don’t forget the vodka. I can plan treats for the evenings, like a trip to the pub, or a walk with the dog. When my face is stuck inside a sweaty arm pit and someone is screaming “Can you move down please” I can drift off and dream of the chequers, and the pint of pale that’s waiting to soothe me.
There are of course much worse things to deal with in the world, some people have to walk for hours simply to find clean water. In the grand scheme of things, the closure is but a small inconvenience, an inconvenience that will ultimately give us more tubes and a better service. It is, as the young folk say, a first world problem. We all just need to find our inner Bear Grylls and get through August in which ever way can. Either that, or all book holiday, form a revolutionary government, nominate an abandoned mattress as head of state and declare independence. What ever we do, lets try and remember that the commute isn’t going to be fun for anyone, so lets be kind to each other. Now I’m starting to sound like Gerry Springer I think it’s time to sign off. Live long and prosper, Walthamstow. I look forward to forming a relationship with your arm pit in the very near future.