I did a fair bit of travelling on the tube this week, including one journey at the height of rush hour. While waiting for the District Line at Waterloo there was a delay, and the platform became very crowded with commuters. I was at the front of the crush, so when the train arrived I was able to get on, and even get a seat. The rest tried to push on. The carriage became sardine-tin full. The doors tried to close to no avail. Too many people in their way. The tube driver's voice came over the intercom:
'Ladies and Gentlemen,' he said wearily. 'There is another Ealing Broadway train a minute behind us, so if a few of you get off and get that we can get underway.'
The doors try to close again, but fail once more. There was a sigh.
'Ladies and Gentlemen, I repeat, there is a train right behind us. Rather than cramming yourself on to this one and blocking the doors, please get off and get on that one instead.'
Doors try to close. Fail again.
'Alright,' the tube driver deadpanned. 'Ignore me. Everybody else does.'
This time the door closed and we were able to get away, many of us chuckling at the despair of our driver.
It's one of the joys of travelling by tube. The laconic, dry announcements made by drivers to passengers, often at the end of a long, joyless shift. Here's a few more of my favourites:
"To the gentleman wearing the long grey coat trying to get on the second carriage, what part of 'Stand clear of the doors!' don't you understand?"
"Ladies & Gentleman, upon departing the train may I remind you to take your rubbish with you. Despite the fact that you are in something that is metal, fairly round, filthy and smells, this is a tube train for public transport and not a bin on wheels."
"Your delay this evening is caused by the line controller suffering from elbow and backside syndrome, not knowing his elbow from his backside. I'll let you know any further information as soon as I'm given any."
"Please mind the closing doors..." The doors close... The doors reopen. "Passengers are reminded that the big red slidey things on the side of the train are called the doors. Let's try it again. Please stand clear of the doors." The doors close... "Thank you."
"I am sorry about the delay, apparently some nutter has just wandered into the tunnel at Euston. We don't know when we'll be moving again, but these people tend to come out pretty quickly... usually in bits."
"Ladies and Gentlemen, I do apologise for the delay to your service. I know you're all dying to get home, unless, of course, you happen to be married to my ex-wife, in which case you'll want to cross over to the Westbound and go in the opposite direction".
"Ladies and gentlemen, we apologise for the delay, but there is a security alert at Victoria station and we are therefore stuck here for the foreseeable future, so let's take our minds off it and pass some time together. All together now.... 'Ten green bottles, hanging on a wall.....'."
"We are now travelling through Baker Street, as you can see Baker Street is closed. It would have been nice if they had actually told me, so I could tell you earlier, but no, they don't think about things like that".
"Beggars are operating on this train, please do NOT encourage these professional beggars, if you have any spare change, please give it to a registered charity, failing that, give it to me."
"Please note that the beeping noise coming from the doors means that the doors are about to close. It does not mean throw yourself or your bags into the doors."
"May I remind all passengers that there is strictly no smoking allowed on any part of the Underground. However, if you are smoking a joint, it's only fair that you pass it round the rest of the carriage."