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Dreadful Nonsense

"I've read your blog. it's really funny. you should write a column." - Jon Ronson

I hate the fact that the front of every single one of today's newspapers is proclaiming the London is returning to normal because we're all so bravely showing defiance in the face of the bombers and defiantly protecting our way of life, and defiantly getting back to our routine by getting on the tubes and buses. As if any of us have any choice in the matter.

In the same manner of "defiance" I got the tube my three stops to work today. It wasn't easy being defiant though. That's because along with being defiant, and metaphorically sticking two fingers up at Mr Bomber(s), I was also terrified of being blown up into tiny bits and scattered around a tube carriage. As I commented to He Who Only… on Thursday night, I refuse to die in London, and I particularly refuse to die underground.

My defiance found me taking my usual route to Liverpool Street tube station this morning, fighting against the hordes coming up the stairs at me. I was feeling particularly defiant, as well as incredibly nervous and slightly nauseous, as I approached the ticket barriers, only to be stopped by underground staff. I defiantly and with great trepidation, took off my walkman headphones to hear why we were being stopped, ready at a moment's notice to run screaming towards the exit. They were only holding back the queue slightly so that the station platform wouldn't get too crowded. I defiantly lost my nerve and went back upstairs to the main station.

I took a deep breath. I turned around. I went back down again.

I joined the queue and waited for three minutes or so, all of the time watching bags and rucksacks and people coming and going. For a good thirty seconds a Tescos carrier bag was left unattended underneath an Evening Standard advert which had rolling news scrolling across it about casualty figures, the fact that the bombers were both unidentified and still at large, the danger of more attacks. I watched the bag until I was ready to spontaneously combust and then someone came and picked it up. Then we were let through the barriers.

Once I was defiantly on the escalator on the way down, I realised there wasn't really any going back, and so I defiantly switched my brain off and pretended it was just a normal day and nothing unusual was happening or about to happen. I kept my walkman off, all the better to listen to the new, special, unnerving and defiant announcements from station staff. Passengers are continually reminded to keep all belongings with them at all times. Passengers are asked to be extra vigilant. Passengers are asked to move down the carriage, use all the room in the carriage. Passengers are reminded that unattended baggage can lead to unnecessary security alerts. Passengers are reminded that there is absolutely no service on the Circle Line. Passengers are reminded that any single one of the people on the platform or in their tube carriage could be a bomber ready to detonate at any moment. Passengers are asked to stand clear of the closing doors, mind the doors please.

On the train, everyone in my immediate vicinity was instantly attracted to one particular bag, sitting underneath the legs of a man standing in the doorway at the end of the carriage. We all stared at it, all stared at each other, all tried to shield ourselves against each other from every direction and then stared at the bag again. Finally, the man noticed, and shamefacedly picked up the bag, as if to claim ownership and relieve us of the tension. We all immediately started to try to find another unattended bag, like frustrated sniffer dogs convinced there was a package somewhere nearby.

But there wasn't, and it was fine, and I defiantly and with great relief got off at my stop, virtually ran up the stairs and got back in to daylight, limbs and life intact. Sanity left somewhere underground between Bank and Chancery Lane.


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