This is the first time I've been asked to host a virtual book tour. But it's by one of the very first people that I linked to and gave a regular feature to on www.goingunderground.net in the days before I had a blog (ah .... the blessed days before I had a blog.... can't believe the blog will be four years old at the end of the year). So I'm going to step aside to Greg who more people have said - "Oh have you heard about the overheard on the Tube site" more times than I can shake a stick at.
Anyway, my book is good. Annie likes it. Other people like it. It's got lots of tube goosip. It's very London and is the perfect Christmas present for young and old alike. There. That's the plugging over and done with.
I thought I'd spend the rest of the blog writing about the London Underground. I love the London Underground. I should make it clear that I love the Tube in the way I might love an abusive relative: the relationship is painful, shameful and I’ve told myself a hundred times that I should leave, but the ties are too strong.
So, here are the best Tube lines, in order. I should add that this is all purely subjective. But I am right.
Number 1: The Victoria Line. You know what I like about it? It's straight. There are no forks or deviations. And there are just the right number of stations. It is pure in thought and function. It’s true that there are some alarmingly long gaps between stations, but no-one is perfect. And I love it for the simplicity of the platform to platform change onto the First Capital Connect (formerly WAGN) line at Highbury and Islington. It is all that a tube line should aim to be.
Number 2: The Piccadilly Line. Mainly for sentimental reasons. I grew up around Wood Green, and for a while lived 30 seconds walk from Bounds Green station. All the north London Piccadilly line stations are lovely old Art Deco buildings, albeit in terrible condition. The other end of the line is something of a mystery to me. I once did a day’s work at Sky and had to go to Osterley. It was quite terrifying. After I got past Acton Town, civilization seemed to have come to an end. The gap between stations was about 47 minutes.
Number 3: The Central Line. For the nice seats. And the lovely red colour of the line on the map. It's quite a posh line, really. Queensway – Notting Hill Gate – Holland Park. It's not for the paupers. Plus, there's a station called Grange Hill. I bet there's no train station in Newcastle called Byker Grove.
Number 4: The Northern Line. The Misery Line. Yes, it's awful, but I spent much of my youth traveling from East Finchley to Camden Town to go to Mega City Comics. It has far too many forks and splits. It’s a damned crazy line. It could quite sensibly have been split into two different lines, but that would have been too reasonable. Did you know: At some point in the distant past there were plans to extend the Northern Line all the way to Muswell Hill. Yes! Muswell Hill would have been on the tube map! Madness!
Number 5: The Hammersmith and City Line. So named to confuse youngsters and tourists: "So, is it the Hammersmith Line I should take? Or the City Line? What? They're the same line?!? No! My brain is melting!" Still, I am fond of the H&C Line. I don't know why. Maybe it's the pinkness. Incidentally, it may just be me, but I remember a time when all Circle Line train interiors were yellow, and all H&C Line train interiors were pink. Nowadays you can get on a yellow-painted train and it's a Hammersmith train and vice versa. You need to keep your wits about you.
Number 6: The Metropolitan Line. I must say, I like the colour. That deep, rich purple is quite sexy. Sadly, that sexiness is spoilt by the fact that the line goes to Watford. Still, the Metropolitan Line is unique in that it's the only line to have "fast trains" that skip stations. These trains confuse me. For years I have had a morbid fear of accidentally getting onto a fast train and not being able to get off until Moor Park. I begrudge these fast trains and their passengers. They should be forced to pass through every station en-route, like normal human beings.
Number 7: The Circle Line. If Camus and Satre were alive today (They aren't. They're dead), they would be traveling endlessly on the Circle Line. Nothing represents the futility of existence better than a bright yellow line that just goes round in circles all day (pausing for ages at Aldgate and Edgware Road for no apparent reason besides existential angst). For some reason I am very suspicious of any Circle Line station that isn't also on the Hammersmith and City Line.
Number 8: The Bakerloo line. It's an unremarkable line really, isn't it? When they were picking the colours for the map, the Bakerloo must have drawn the short straw. A slightly muddy shit-brown. It's not pleasant. But it does go through Willesden Junction, which is a place I am fond of. Harlesden isn't all just stabbings and gun crime.
Number 9: The Jubilee Line. It's grey. It is the greyness of London, of overcast skies, soggy chips and warm beer. It’s unrelentlingly grim in its greyness. In its favour, the Jubilee line extension has some fantastic stations, and the security door/barrier things on the platform are quite useful as they allow me to know exactly the doors of the train will be and therefore snaffle a good seat. Oh, and it’s good for disabled access. At the moment I don't need disabled access, but I like to plan for the future.
Number 10: The District Line. Is there anything skankier than a District Line train? The rolling stock appears to predate the London Underground by many centuries. And the line is green on the map. There's something wrong with that. Green in the colour of nature. And the District Line is an offence to nature. It's an abomination. It confuses me. There's a strange "V" annex between Kensington (Olympia), Earl's Court and High Street Kensington. The "V" just sits there like a vestigial limb yearning to be amputated. Also, any Tube line that goes to Wimbledon is not to be trusted.
Number 11: The East London Line. Just totally pointless. It's tiny, it's orange, and it's never open. Like an early-closing Satsuma.
Number 12: The Waterloo and City Line. Even smaller and more rubbish that the East London Line.
I'm sure one of the regular readers and commmenters who lives in Wimbledon will have something to say about the District Line definition. But I can't defend it in any other way. Skankier could be my new word of 2007! Cheers to Greg for the post and best of luck with the sales of the book.