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The (Neat and Orderly) Ramblings of an Obsessive Compulsive: Going Underground

Nobody enjoys the tube during rush hour. Getting up close and personal with complete strangers is something that British people just don’t do, unless forced to. Usually standing one metre away from somebody is close enough. Or maybe that’s just me.

So it’s hot, it’s sweaty and it’s awkward. Packed on the train like sardines, you rumble through a dark tunnel for a while trying not to look that man in the eye as he raises his arm to hold the bar above your head and you’re confronted with a large sweat patch and a waft of body odour. Beautiful.

But there are other things to think about. The sweaty man hops off the tube at Liverpool Street and I shuffle along to accommodate a group of schoolgirls, unconsciously grabbing the damp patch of pole that the gentleman’s perspiring palms had been clutching just minutes before. My hand is sticky and I want to cry. The carriage is spinning and it has nothing to do with the speed at which it’s hurtling towards the next station. I can feel the droplets of the man’s sweat soaking into my skin, entering my bloodstream and infecting me. And what about the stench, so strong it was almost visible, floating towards my nostrils like a dark cloud and travelling towards my brain? Maybe I should go to the doctor. I don’t want to take any chances.

Also, have you ever tried counting the number of people in a tube carriage? It’s virtually impossible. Does a baby count as one person or half a person? These are important questions. But there’s no way of knowing how many people are on the tube as a whole at any given time, which is extremely problematic considering we’re all underground in a big dark hole and if there is an odd number of us there’s a 99.9% chance that we’re doomed. I mean, our luck has got to run out somewhere hasn’t it?

And what if there are six stops to my destination? I’d rather not risk it, sunshine. Drinks in Holborn you say? Meet you there in half an hour, I’ll be riding a Boris bike.

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