Tag Archives: Northern Line

On parrots, gorillas and women’s day….more love for the Northern Line 36/100

You know that I believe that London and I are engaged in an actual, passionate, evolving love affair. And that she (definitely female today, it is International Women’s Day after all) frequently gives me little treats, just to prove that she is thinking of me….so it was with delight that I accepted the gift of a parrot, yesterday. On the Northern Line, obviously. Because London knows the Northern Line is a particular passion of mine. See how it works? I love, she rewards. If only all relationships were so simple.


So the parrot. Yesterday.  As I was going through the barriers at Charing Cross I noticed that the man next to me had an enormous parrot on his shoulder. A real, live parrot. A huge thing. The bird was squawking loudly. The staff at Charing Cross were…well…cross. They clearly disapproved, but no where does it specifically say “No Parrots.” So down the escalator with me they went. “Don’t let that bird fly around,” one of the uniformed men shouted. I laughed, the parrot’s owner laughed, the man standing behind the man with the parrot laughed. The parrot squawked. On the platform the bird got even louder. IMG_20160307_134008People began photographing and taking videos of the man and his parrot. The man was positively beaming and the parrot hopped energetically from his shoulder to his arm to his hand and back again. Once on the train, the parrot clenched the bar in its beak and held on like a seasoned Northern Line commuter. The passengers loved it. Except for the poor girl with the dog. The dog was going insane. An actual winged creature in an enclosed space, better than 50 squirrels up a tree! It was all she could do to keep hold of the lead. She looked very stressed and wasn’t at all amused when the man started to bring the parrot closer to her frantic hound. “No, no please please don’t” she implored. The rest of us thought it was great. And then he got off at Waterloo. The moment was over. The carriage went quiet. But we all kept smiling at each other because we had all just seen a parrot on the Tube!!


Oh Northern Line, you just keep giving. I once saw a man carrying a surf board on the Northern Line. London is hardly a well known surfing destination, so the story making possibilities are endless….bad break up and the only thing she didn’t burn? A last minute decision to pack in the tedious desk job and live by the ocean? A lost bet?

10683576_952865401406848_443269884710380862_oMy fabulous friend Lucy, while carrying a hula hoop, as one does, performed a spontaneous dance with a Charlie Chaplin look-alike on the Northern Line. Silently, obviously. About 18 months ago I travelled on the Northern Line in a gorilla costume. A proper, serious, full on gorilla costume. I was on my way to a charity run. For gorillas. No one even glanced at me. On the return trip I carried the furry costume, medal proudly slung round my neck, and that got strangers interested. A good looking young man was particularly eager to start up a conversation, asking me all about the costume and the run and other races I had done.10669136_952945541398834_6277887475369917976_o I was feeling quite flattered by the attention. And then he said it, “Oh my Mum does all sorts of crazy stuff like that too. It’s great..” And I felt…jubilant. No really, I did. To hear a child, no matter the age, express appreciation for something their mother does, especially something slightly off beat, is to be treasured. Perhaps that is why the incident came back to me today of all days, International Women’s Day, two days after British Mother’s Day. In general, I have little time for such “Days.” Sadly, we live in a world were the lives of millions of women are grim, if not downright hideous, and no amount of special mentions or flowers is going to change that. However, saying something nice about your mother on public transport is a good start to making the world a better place. Seeing a parrot on the underground is pretty good too. Happy Day.

On the pleasure of the Northern Line….34/100

I love the Northern Line. I really do. Ok, it can be a special form of over-crowded hell  during the morning rush-hour, but I rarely  have to travel during rush hour. And it takes me everywhere I want to go. Circus ( Highgate, Old Street) at the top end, museums and theatre (Tottenham Court Road, Leicester Sq, Charing Cross, Embankment) sprinkled throughout the middle, Southbank (Waterloo), home. IMG_0035Pithy “thoughts of the day” and classical music greet me at some of my favourite stations. Books are often free to take at Clapham North. 11728971_1145643748795678_3259608417575703486_oOn an early Sunday morning I watched a man create and then tie balloon animals to the poles in my carriage before leaping out of the doors. A lovely, random act of fun for the Northern Line traveler.

I know that to talk on the Tube is simply not done, but I have had some of my best conversations on the Northern Line. A friend and I once engaged in a spirited discussion on how transvestites are frustrating because they so often leave their hair lanky and unstyled, while drag queens always have fabulous hair. The passengers round us chimed in with agreement. It is also a terrific place for eavesdropping, a serious hobby of mine. The morning-after-the-night-before tales are my favourite, but mostly unprintable. Sometimes everyone is reading, and not just newspapers or on devices, but actual books, many of them classics. Happy to see that Jane Austen remains popular. Of course there was that bizarre fashion, several years back, when women boldly read 50 Shades on the train. Weren’t they embarrassed? I’ve always wondered what would happen if packs of men were seen reading porn in public. There would be a public outcry. Howls for legislation of some sort, no doubt. I did however, overhear two utterly respectable looking older gentlemen calmly discussing their favourite porn films on the Tube, but that was the Bakerloo Line.

IMG_20160219_184608_editAnd where would I be without all those posters with the latest cultural offerings. I depend on them. Some of them I grow very fond of. I loved the V&A poster with the Chohuly chandelier so much I spent years and years trying to get a copy for myself. After much persistence I did it. It hangs, in a gold frame, outside my kitchen.

Last week, a man complimented me on my shoes on the Northern Line, not a sexy, high heeled pair, but some colourful United Nudes. It wasn’t a sleazy come on, but rather a kind comment from one of good taste to another. Because classy people ride the Northern Line.

IMG_6794There is nothing I love more than the random encounter, like the kind I had a week or so ago post theatre. On the Northern Line hurtling home, two young men sat across from me. One was drinking beer from a beer glass. Drinking on the Tube is illegal, by the way, so it is usually done furtively. But he rested his glass boldly on his knee between sips. I couldn’t resist, “I admire that,” I said, nodding at the glass. They looked aghast, an old woman was speaking to them. On the Tube. The horror! Undaunted, I continued, “drinking a beer on the tube, and from a real glass.” They relaxed and smiled. “Yeah,” said the one with the drink, “I brought it from home.” And that was my cue to produce a plastic wine glass from my purse. They were astounded, delighted. Photos were taken (by them!) I didn’t tell them I had just come from one of the theatres with the new, fabulous, plastic wine glass policy, just let them believe that I travel the city prepared for wine at a moment’s notice, including on the Tube. The boys told me they had been to a celebration, “of sorts,” but there was something glum about the way they said it. So maybe the happiness didn’t include them? Like that story line from Love Actually with Keira Knightley and the two friends. Or maybe…well the truth doesn’t really matter because their story is now my story, and I can spin it any way I wish. And that is the generosity of the Northern Line. It not only takes me everywhere I wish to be, but gives me plenty to fire up the imagination as I go.