Unlike the escalator where most species are terrestrial (sightings of Archaeopteryx Pressurisus during rush hour at Euston station last year remain unconfirmed at the time of writing even if witnesses reported seeing a large reptile-like person hovering above passengers on the escalator and moving its? his? her? long, feathered tail from side to side) both on the London Underground's platforms and trains, water, air and earth creatures mix together.
For instance, take the Boidae punctualis. This is the type of commuter who will stop to nothing to get to his/her favourite spot everyday, every week, every year at the same time. The exactitude with which this animal works is astounding and leading scientists from Imperial College in London have already pointed at possible links with the legendary Giant Anaconda, featured more recently in the 1997 film 'Anaconda' starring Jennifer 'from the block' Lopez and Ice Cube. Connoiseurs are particularly fascinated by this creature's sideways swinging movements as they move down the platform towards the point at which the train will open up its door. The same door through which, upon arriving at their destination, the Boidae punctualis will exit and without wasting any time, for he/she has big tasks ahead, will follow the 'Way Out' sign with its big yellow letters. I once saw a member of this group crying desolately on the platform floor after a train arrived carrying the sign 'Door Does Not Open, Please Use Another One'. Paramedics were on the spot and police officers were restraining the commuter after he had tried to strangle a Tapirus indicus, whose only offence was to be visiting London from Malaysia and taking photos of the aforementioned sign.
Another animal whose nature makes him/her stand out amongst the members of the Underground's fauna is the Strigiforme traynyn tempus, commonly known as 'Tube owl'. His/her main characteristic is a silent flight along the platform and an obsession with train times. The Tube owl will normally take up their position near the small overhead screen displaying the countdown between trains. He/she will look up at it with its large eyes and wait...
... and wait...
... and wait, all the time standing still, with his/her forward-facing eyes looking up at that small screen, their flat face betraying no emotion whatsoever and they will continue to wait...
... and wait. Until the train comes. You might think I'm lying but I've seen tube owls letting trains go just for the sake of waiting for the next one. And famous, though apocryphal, is the story about a Strigiforme traynyn tempus who became rich within the space of a few hours when he was confused with one of Covent Garden's famous living statues and people kept putting money in front of him. Twice two commuters, who happened to be GPs, checked his pulse to see if he was still alive. On finding out he was, they were so impressed with his act that both left their savings accounts details. It should be noted that this incident happened on the Northern Line.
The last species I will discuss today is the Delphinidae vīvāx, a very dangerous species, though not at first sight. Known more often by its common name, the 'Underground dolphin', this animal is the eternal joyful, optimistic, daredevil who jumps into the carriage just as the door is closing. The risks they pose come mainly from their selfish persona and their physical (albeit unintentional) clumsiness. The Underground dolphin's reputed intelligence disappears once he/she perceives that there is a train on the platform. From that moment onwards the only thought crossing his/her mind is: 'I must get on, I must get, I must get on' even if that means leaping above the crowd at Oxford Circus, surfing through the heavy morning rush-hour traffic at Green Park or performing acrobatic jumps at Waterloo station in order to sneak through an open door. Needless to say, the Delphinidae vīvāx is sadly involved in a number of unfortunate accidents and a culling initiative was brought to parliament last year. We have yet to hear the outcome of it, though as it is election year in the UK, maybe the traditional whistling sound of the Underground dolphin will be heard less and less. I once saw one specimen somersaulting (I swear, I'm not exaggerating) all the way from the Häagen-Dazs cafe in Leicester Square into the tube station and onto the platform just because she thought she'd heard a train approaching. Her movement was so elegant that it looked as if she was leaping in slow motion, her bottlenose high in the air, a fixed smile on her face. Alas, she wasn't able to get on the train. An Ursidae statikós stood in her way. But that's a topic for another day. Enjoy your week.
Next Post: 'Nation (Review)', to be published on Tuesday 9th March at 11:59pm (GMT)
"The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned." (Maya Angelou)
Sunday, 7 March 2010
Sunday Mornings: Coffee, Reflections and Music
We continue this week with our series (sporadic, I know, but that's the way things are around here, sorry) on the biggest Zoo in Londontown: the Underground. And today we'll discuss the platform. Please, note the platform not the train. The latter will be the subject of our third and last part.
Posted by A Cuban In London at 10:00
Labels: A Cuban In London, Cubans in London, music, Ray Charles
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Sadly, the Midwest is so lacking in public transportation. I hold it in high romantic esteem, since it's so uncommon in these parts. Wonderful post, my friend.ReplyDelete
Deliciously written. I enjoyed reading it very much. Can't wait to try to spot some of the species you describe on our Underground North Pole Express.ReplyDelete
what a delightful post on the Tubedinosaurs...aaah the joys of london commuting - a distant memory!! My favourite tube story involves the Great British reserve of hiding behind one's newspaper and being "polite" no matter what the circumstances are... A commuter on a train with a snake (albeit with a shoelace tied round its mouth) No-one "noticed" !! to link with your post apparently there is a published book on how to save time on the Tube by never having to walk the platforms as it tells you exactly where to wait to be closest to your exit at your stop - no doubt you carry this Tubible whilst commuting Cuban?? Greetings from MexicoReplyDelete
Great post. I shall look out for these various sub-species as I journey on the Tube tomorrow morning.ReplyDelete
Many thanks for your comments. Sadly, I don't come across these species anymore as I stopped commuting almost seven years ago. Still, like last week, when I had to go to St Thomas Hospital for a dental appointment, I'm always on the lookout for these specimens as they come out of their lairs and make their way up down the escalators, along the platforms and into the carriages. Fascinating fauna. And flora. Did I mention the flora? Blimey, I'll have to include the plants in my last installment.ReplyDelete
Greetings from London.
Another well analyzed post as usual Cubano. I'm afraid I don't recognize these London species, they apparently have not migrated to Chicago but I do recognize some distant cousins.ReplyDelete
Ahh, I do enjoy your observations of London's indigenous species.ReplyDelete
You make me nostalgic for the tube, I now live in a place where the only public transport is a small bus every other Tuesday.ReplyDelete
What a delightful post! I love your creativity. I have recognized some of these creatures in our own TTC - thank you for supplying some labels!ReplyDelete
ha! excellent piece. next time i'm in london(nevermind the fact that i've never been), i'll have to make it my business to observe this show.ReplyDelete
("jenny from the block"..tee hee hee! i always have found that laughable for some reason.)
I love your rabbit hole. White Rabbit, Caterpillar and Queen of Hearts would enjoy it too!ReplyDelete
And Blimey brings home Mind Your English:)
Many thanks for your kind feedback.ReplyDelete
Greetings from London.
This post actually made me nostalgic for the NY subway where I thought I had encountered every possible variation of the genetic code. According to your Sunday post, I had not. Very funny and well written. Thanks for the light touch.ReplyDelete
Strigiforme guy made enough from donations to make his way to NY..now appearing in front of the Met..also..ReplyDelete
Keep my head down when Megamouth Shark is making his way through the cars, selling used batteries, Louis Vuitton originals... Thanks for this nostalgic post!!!
Congratulations on the new look : ) I loved the new header, image and quotation. That is something I have to remind myself very often.ReplyDelete
BTW I have Rayuela on my bookshelf as well, on the "next in line to read" shelf (a very populated one). How are you enjoying it?
What a funny post! We have many of the species "Delphinidae vīvāx" here in the SF Bay Area. One managed to jam the BART train door so badly that the train had to be taken out of commission, thereby stranding several thousand commuters during rush hour. Fortunately, he wasn't lynched so the species is still viable but it was a close call.ReplyDelete
You have such a fertile imagination, Cuban. You know, subways are such topics for conversation the world over. But you've turned this into somewhat of a fairytale/fantasy film, and I was held by all of the "creatures" and their various roles. I've always believed that we see the whole world in places like airports and train and subway stations. There's something about the coming together of people who are desperately on their way somewhere that makes for the wildest dynamics. Thanks for this very humorous, though grounded, post!ReplyDelete
I grinned from ear to ear the entire time I read this creative post. I also love the photo of the platform. I shudder to think of the names of the dinosaurs you would find in the New York City subways...ReplyDelete
I will patiently await your next installment.
Many thanks for your kind words.ReplyDelete
Greetings from London.
Since I would avoid public transportation at all costs here in California, I will have to wait until I can trek to London to see the tube denizens. Californians are spending $9 billion dollars to build a high speed rail between LA and San Francisco. Sigh. The stupidity of that floors me. (Almost as dumb as a rail between LA and Las Vegas at taxpayer expense.)We have a high speed transport between those 2 cities with infrastructure in place already... airports.They probably should just subsidize commuter planes and avoid building a new rail system.ReplyDelete
I used to love watching the dinosaurs of the airports but alas they took out the viewing stations when they stopped allowing people to the gate.
Oh my gosh, CIL, this series is too funny.ReplyDelete
I brave the New York City subway and am
eternally impressed by the Dolphin and
the crazy bravery. The sliding into the
1 inch opening of the doors and the rebound
once inside the train. The devil-may-care
of placeing their arm into rapidly closing
doors is beyond my comprehension.
Many thanks for our comments.ReplyDelete
Greetings from London.