Of course, I am referring to the London Underground and its escalators system.
As an ex-commuter I sometimes miss the good old Tube's moving staircase. Call me a masochist, but I have a soft spot for that up and down motor-driven movement. And what really sets my nostalgic pulse racing is the remembrance of the various breeds I came across during those years when I regularly joined the zoological brigade each morning and afternoon during the rush-hour.
Exhibit A is the Hippopotamus Verticalus, a territorial bull of an animal. The hippopotamus is largely harmless when stationary, i.e., standing on the right side of the escalator as all signs indicate. But mention rush-hour and you will see him/her stampeding down the transport device. Pity the person who gets caught in that charge. They will be dragged down mercilessly and without so much as an apology to compensate for the onslaught.
Another specimen notable for its ubiquity is the Vulpes Stǣger ēlectricus, commonly known as 'escalator fox'. This creature, and this applies to both male and female, has some remarkable characteristics such as an endless flirtatious nature. Commonly found on the right side of the moving staircases watching the people going in the opposite direction and fixing their vulpine eyes on them, the escalator fox is the chief contributor to the formation and disintegration of many a platonic relationship. Life span of the aforementioned affair? The couple of minutes it takes you to go up or down the escalator.
The last species I will be describing in today's post is the one to which I belong, the Suricata Observatorus, commonly known as 'Underground Meerkat'. Unlike our cousins in the Kalahari Desert in Bostwana, and in South Africa we don't hang around together, so, please, don't call us 'mob' or 'clan'. What we do do is observe. We love watching people, their quirks and mannerisms and then we write about them on our blogs. The Underground Meerkat has a creative and inquisitive nature, which, alas, sometimes gets them into trouble. Have you ever tried to explain to a bloke that you were not ogling his 'bird', but merely participating in a very human exercise called 'sentry role-play'? Minus the barking sound. We all need to stop somewhere.
These are but three of the many creatures commonly found on the escalators of the London Underground; after all, it is a big Zoo. Lack of space and time means that I have had to exclude some other interesting specimens. For instance, the Loxodonta Passager is similar to the Hippoppotamus but with a better memory. If they feel wronged by you, he/she will remember whereabouts on the escalator you were exactly when the alleged incident took place. And next time you're on the electric device with them, they will remind you. With devastating consequences. The Acinonyx jubatus subterrāneus is the only traveller capable of running up or down the motor-driven device without causing any havoc whatsoever. All you feel is a gust of wind between your legs and the signs of footprints where his/her shoes trod momentarily before. Since his/her speed can reach up to 75 mph, nobody has ever been able to describe one in detail.
This post only concerns itself with the specimens using the London Underground's escalator system. In future columns I will write about the other urban species who populate the platforms and the trains.
As much as I hate to admit it I love the new McDonald's ad. It's one of those guilty pleasures that has been preying on my mind for the last few weeks and to which I have to own up now. The reason for my feeling so ashamed is that I stopped going to the fast-food restaurant many years ago. I remember distinctly when, it was a Sunday and Chelsea had just trashed Spurs 4-0 for the second time that week. My wife, my son and my newborn baby daughter were in the car having some burgers and chips - well not my daughter, obviously. Then my son said: 'I love coming to McDonald's, they always give you a toy'. My wife and I looked at each other only once and we both knew what the other one was thinking. We never crossed the golden arches again.
But now it's different. The new McDonald's ad, with its Rolf Harriesque approach (it's based on a piece by him and Rolf himself gave his approval for his poem to be used), is a work of genius. Bouncy, buoyant and breezy, it is the epitome of British urban cool. The photography is amazing, especially when one takes into account the drabness of McDonald's colours. Another reason for me to be embarrassed is that up to now I have been very snotty when it comes to advertising on telly and if a commercial doesn't look or feel like one of Guinness's promotion clips, I'm not interested. And this comes from a teetotal. But I would willingly forsake my self-imposed exile from the land of alcohol to just sip on a cold Guinness if that implied getting closer to the horses riding on the crest of waves (and the Moby Dick motif), the elderly swimmer and the snail race (shot in Cuba, apparently, correct me if I'm wrong, please).
However, that McDonald's ad is a serious contender for promotion clip of the year. Even if I will still stick to Ed's Easy Diners and Gourmet Burger for a long time to come.
Next Post: 'What Makes a Good Writer?', to be published on Tuesday 15th December at 11:59pm (GMT)