diamond geezer

 Monday, January 29, 2007

London EC2: And then Martin came back. He'd survived his trek along the tunnel to St Paul's station (and back) and now he had a tale to tell. We were expecting him to say that he'd met Arnold Schwarzenegger on the platform, or maybe even Professor Quatermass in a pit, but no. He said it was much worse than that.

First there had been the torchlit darkness to contend with. The tunnel had twisted first left and then right, which soon blocked out even the faint light streaming from our train behind. It had been hard to pick out the rails beneath his feet, so he'd stumbled and tripped several times. At one point he'd fallen into an inspection pit between the rails and nearly twisted his ankle (we wondered if this was Martin embellishing his story somewhat, but we let him continue unchallenged). And then, as the tunnel finally opened out into the cavernous westbound platform at St Paul's, he told how his progress had been checked by a pile of earth and masonry slumped across the tracks. It had taken him a long time to pick his way through and clamber up onto the platform, and longer still to push his way through the debris towards the "Way Out" sign. But there was no way out. The entire escalator chamber was full of rubble, presumably tumbled down from an explosion above. Nobody would be reaching the surface via this route, nor sending down a rescue party in the opposite direction.

Martin showed us a few of the photos he'd snapped on his mobile. He even Bluetoothed a few round the carriage, just to show off. You couldn't see much in most of them, just a few jagged grey shapes. But we were glad to receive these images from the "outside world", however grim the reality they depicted. Martin said the far end of the platform, away from the exit, was a lot clearer from obstruction. But there were no alternative exits, not even a way through to the parallel eastbound platform, just another dark and forbidding tunnel mouth. And he didn't fancy the long walk on towards Chancery Lane, not with his torchlight fading fast, so he made his way slowly back to the train. Our carriage is at the "dead end" end of the train, so it seems. Let's hope nobody at the opposite end of the train has a similar story to tell.
Posted at 12:54 from 51°30'51"N 0°5'41"W via my Z470xi mobile

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