When the lights went out I was travelling around the Circle line somewhere outside Sloane Square, with two Italian women I'd met on holiday. It was their first trip to London. And, probably, their last.
As the power failed and the driver explained patiently what was happening, the general attitude in the cariage was what you'd expect -- one of resigned boredom. A few gentle tuts. Newspapers being shuffled (the emergency lights were on). A few people tried their mobiles, realised there was nothing doing, and settled back into their Robert Ludlum novels.
Not my travelling companions though. The barrage of questions started immediately.
There's no power.
"How long will be be stuck for?"
I don't know.
"Ten minutes? An hour? Ten hours?"
I don't know. The driver will tell us when he knows.
"Does anyone know we're down here? Shall I call the police?"
"Can we get out and walk?"
Because if the power comes back on, you'll get killed.
"Can we talk to the driver?"
If you want to, but he's just said he doesn't know what's happening.
"Will someone come and rescue us"
Yes, if it comes to that.
The questions went on, and at rising levels of hysteria, for twenty tortuous minutes. When the power came back on at last, my companions wept. They hugged each other, hugged me, hugged the bemused Albanian lawyer opposite. They danced. They sang. They laughed hysterically. They videoed each other to record the moment of their escape from this subterranean nightmare. All to the bemusement of all the other passengers -- and to my increasing mortification, I'm sorry to say.
Longest twenty minutes of their lives? It was definitely the longest twenty minutes of mine. And they haven't been back to London since."
I love the fact that they had to video their survival. But their behaviour would have had me crawling up the walls with vicarious worry.