xkcd: Sheeple

Something very disturbing happened to me on the Tube a few weeks ago: a stranger struck up conversation with me. After I got over my initial shock and repulsion, we had a pleasant exchange on the subject of the Bakerloo line. He thought that Londoners are friendlier than they’re made out to be, and I guess our exchange proved this, although he probably sought me out on an unconscious level to confirm his expectations.

Robert Fisk said that war represents the total failure of the human spirit. I’d suggest trying to get on the northbound blue line at Victoria during rush hour for a contemporary, slightly less traumatic insight into the human condition. When forced to assume the position of nose-to-someone-else’s-armpit, that violation of personal boundaries is more than enough to quell the idea of verbal dialogue.

An individual could of course strike up a conversation about the weather, it’s such a useful ice-breaker embedded in English culture, but the underground for most part removes the opportunity. Despite the negative outlook, there’s an unspoken cohesiveness: the cost, the sour milk stench at Waterloo, the long interchanges, Northern line time, black phelgm and those bloody A4 sized wheelie suitcases: we’re all being taken for a ride. I look forward to not missing it.

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