diamond geezer

 Monday, January 29, 2007

Bank, London: That. Was. Scary. Edging your way along an unlit tube tunnel is something I hope I never have to experience again. For a start there was the fear of stepping down onto the tracks in the first place. We're programmed from a very young age never to walk on railway lines and it's a hard habit to break, especially when nobody's told you officially that the power's been switched off. Then there's fear of the darkness, which in this case is a genuine fear of the unseen unknown. There could be a hole in the tunnel floor (there almost certainly isn't, but there could be). There could be rats scampering around at your feet (there almost certainly are, so it's best not to think about it). And the power could be switched back on at any time (there's no chance, obviously, but that doesn't stop the worry). The walk up to Bank can't have been more than half a mile in distance, but it felt far longer mentally than physically. I was right at the back of this subterranean human convoy, aware that there was nothing behind me but an ever-lengthening void. I just kept my head down and tried to stay close to those around me, laughing and joking to conceal my trepidation. Our pace slowed as we tried to encourage the infirm and the petrified to keep moving forward, but everyone struggled forward. And eventually, oh so eventually, we emerged into the relative safety of our destination station.

The westbound Central line platform at Bank isn't the best place for 500 lost commuters to assemble. It's narrow, and curved, and a whole rabbit warren of interlocking passages lead off deep into the station along its entire length. Of all the stations on the network we've had the bad luck to end up in the most complicated, and the lights are out. But we're the last of the passengers to arrive, and the advance guard have already explored the various potential avenues of escape. Downwards, along the legendary "escalator link" to Monument, is not an option it seems. A few brave souls investigated the spiral staircase down towards the Northern line platforms and found water lapping halfway up the first set of escalators. Nobody really wants to imagine how it got there, or how fast it might be rising. So our final catch-up group hurried instead along the curving platform (taking care to mind the gap and not fall back onto the tracks) and headed for the atrium at the foot of the main escalator. There's still a bit of a queue waiting to walk up the non-moving staircase to the surface, but at least everything here appears to be intact. Our return to the outside world is, we hope, only a few minutes away.
Posted at 14:38 from 51°30'47"N 0°5'20"W via my Z470xi mobile

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