Let me ask you this: when was the last time you had good sex on the Tube? Never? It doesn’t surprise me. It really isn’t the sort of thing most of us wish to witness. Copulating anywhere on a CCTV-rich public transport system is – well – public. So I’m guessing that only a few thrill-seekers get much of a buzz out of it. Hoary old flashers in dirty macs, exponents of rush-hour frottage, sexually incontinent, feral teens, and maybe doms getting off (and on) by pulling their half-naked subs the length of a filthy, crowded carriage floor.
However most Londoners are hardened, heads-down-in-Kindle types, largely impervious to shock and inured to all but the most embarrassing of displays. Really, we don’t care for an interruption of our infernal progress on the tenth Circle Line of hell by sexual performances any more than we do by carriage-to-carriage buskers.
Until I started biking to Erotic Towers ten years ago, I relied entirely on the Underground. I loathed it along with my fellow-travellers (or ‘customers’ as they insist on calling us now – to give us the illusion of some sort of choice, perhaps?). These days I only tube it when I absolutely have to, and it hasn’t improved. Unless, that is, you happen to be one of Bob Crow’s lucky bastards actually driving the train on an Olympian salary of 60K-plus a year.
I could put up (in the words of the incomparable Drs. Biswas and Kay)‘with tourists treading on your feet, And chewing gum on every seat’ and all the other sweaty, sordid, crowded inconveniences of tube travel, if it wasn’t for the sickening self-satisfaction of the public relations department of Transport for London who never tire of telling us:
“All lines are operating a ‘good’ service”
“There is a ‘good’ service operating on all Underground lines.”
They fib. They lie.
According to TFL, a ‘good service’ means that there is no noticeable impact on your journey. What happened to ‘normal’, as in ‘normal service will be resumed as soon as possible’? Last year it was revealed that for one, just one, single day in the whole year, there existed a ‘good service’ on the whole of London’s Underground’s network.
Let’s be very clear indeed about one thing: the London Underground service is not a good service. It may have been back in the Metroland heyday of the 1930s, but today it is a service that ranges from just about adequate to very fucking bad indeed. And since this overpriced Underground service is normally bad (well, 364 days out of 365 it is), we can conclude that ‘normal’ equals ‘bad’. Except that in an utterly dishonest way, the word ‘good’ has been reinvented to mean ‘bad’. Someone, or more likely some committee, somewhere in the depths of the TFL’s plush Greenwich headquarters, is responsible for this complacent porkie, this semantic horror, this Orwellian Doublespeak that is broadcast so shamelessly over a thousand public address systems every day. Whoever they are, I hope that their final tube journey delivers them to the Tenth Circle of Hell, the one that Dante missed, reserved for the unbearably smug.
Think how grim it would be if we applied TFL’s mendacious propaganda to sex, rather than travel. No, let’s go one step further: imagine the following post-coital dialogue between Mr TFL and Mrs TFL:
“Was that good for you, darling?”
“Yes, absolutely, dearest one. It was… as ever, a good service.”
“On all lines?”
“Yes, on all lines, my sweet.”
“Hmm. I see. So no noticeable impact on your, ah, journey? Pretty much the same horrendous charade of lacklustre coupling? A travesty of erotic love? A tragic caricature of sensual intimacy, utterly lacking in any technique or meaningful passion? ”
“You might say that, dear.”
“Well… doors closing, darling.”
“Yes, dear. Mind the credibility gap.”