DAY 9 – part I
I was searching for some other people who could possibly join me in my Tube odyssey but I didn’t succeed. There was one person considering participation and I am glad even for that.
So it was just up to me – what a difference when I compare Saturday exploration with my previous experiment in Prague based on the same principles. I see two major differencies: fistly in Prague we were four and in London just me alone, secondly in Prague there are just three metro lines (A, B, C) so the systém is quite small and most of the stations are literally under the ground. In London it is just 45%, see) and that system is naturally much bigger.
So this research was more open but also more lonely.
I entered the System around 5.30 am at Limehouse DLR station and get out around 11.30 pm on the same place.
I had to leave the System two times – once in a Heathrow 1,2,3 station, second in a Hammersmith. In Heathrow in was because of a tricky escalator – when it got me up there was no other way how to continue than to leave the System. Because of that I had to get out in some other station in Zone 1 or 2 to avoid a fee for being in the System for two long – so I did in Hammersmith.
I should explain what kind of ticket I bought. It was 7 day Travelcard for Zones 1 & 2 which cost me £32.10.
I suppose it might be done completely without any payment but in a few situations I needed it (like when transfering in some stations – for instance in Bank when getting into the Waterloo & City line or in Shadwell when transfering between the DLR and the Overground). Also I wanted to feel secure for eventuall control – obviously more time you spend in the System bigger chance is to meet a controller. I was controlled few days ago and saw controller in a Tube other day so I rather wanted to concentrate more on the research and not on the checking if there is any controller. Anyway this day I didn’t see a single one.
In the morning I knew exactly where to go. The Tubes/Overgrounds/DLRs (I decided not to use buses, trams, National Rail or other services) outermost station – in terms of the Zones – is a Watford Junction. At the moment its location is marked as a „Zone W“ and special fares applies there. So I had to go there. Not surprisingly nothing special happened there, the station looked like many others and it didn’t even look so peripheral as some other stations (like nearby Chesham or Amersham for example).
Most of the time I spent by travelling from one endstation to another one, time to time I resigned to any planning and was just getting on and off randomly.
Due to the weekend closures I didn’t have possibility to visit east parts of Hammersmith & City respectively District lines and such stations as Barking or Upminster remained big unknown. Bigger problem were closures in a different parts of the Overground so I didn’t use that a lot. Beacuse of that I also couldn’t reach Haggerston station where happening of the SITE/SPACE group was tooking place. It was quite unfortunate – work of the group is concentrated on doing actions in a public spaces and there deffinitely is some relation to my work. Might be great to become part of a happening during the Tube research but it probably was as it should be.
As I was already pointing out in the previous post staying in the Tube creates quite unique feeling of de-attaching from oneself and entering into some hypnotic, hallucinatory reality. Similar situations are established when having a long flight, long bus ride and so on. The whole world in a Tube is a simulacrum – seems to be normal, usual, but it certainly is not. The Tube has for me a metonymical connection with the city or more specifically – the Tube is the tip of an iceberg for the city. The way how people are structured to the specific rows and patterns and lead through the artificialy made pathways/trains, omnipresent camera surveillance and attack of commercials, lack of the social contact between the citizens, feelings of lostness and so on are more then symptomatic for the phenomenon of megalopolis. And all this we can read in the Tube way much better than in a city as a whole. Because there is nothing else what to look at.
On the other hand it also might serve as some kind of base. When I got out in Heathrow and Hammersmith my possible freedom shocked me and I was happy that I might come back to the Tube world, where everything is understandable, linked, secure.
I tried to perform some action but I was alone and exhausted so I improvized for a while in one station and than didn’t continue with that activity.
After the whole day I was really tired and felt quite lonely as well. During the day I spoke just with two persons and it was just because I was buying food from them.
An underground is a mirror of the society, of the city overhead and because it is mirror you don’t have a chance to see a „real image“ (which you don’t see in the city anyway) but in a way it might bring more truth than observing the real buildings, sights, attractions, parks, shops… Underground is under the pavement, under the city skin and beause of that one can sees all the dirt hidden, all entrails of the megalopolis.