Coronavirus Diary 54 – Going on the London Underground!

Last week I decided and sort of had to go into London for the first time since the 6th of February to meet with a colleague.

It probably wasn’t the best day to go given that it had been hot for a week and I knew the underground would be a whole magnitude hotter.  Also I had been suffering from a sore chest or a touch of the Covids as I shall forever now call it for a few days.  Still there was a mixture of mild dread and excitement the night before and I kept thinking of a quote from Lawrence of Arabia.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uE0DBpw09SU.

Following the guidelines I travelled well after rush-hour but typically the usually deserted buses had 6 or 7 passengers seated downstairs so I had to go upstairs.  Everyone was wearing those general and vaguely medically looking masks except for someone who seemed to be wearing some sort of home made garment over his face.  It was enough to satisfy the rules but if there was truly someone sat 2 metres / 6 feet away with the virus, I wouldn’t want to be wearing it.

Annoying because I had sat upstairs, I had to hold on to the metal rails when coming down the stairs of the still moving bus.  I used 4 or 5 heavy squirts of hand sanitiser afterwards but even then spent the next few days wonder whether it was enough to open my bottle of drinking water at the end of my journey.

The bus turned out to be the worst part of the journey in someways.  Happily now living able to get on at the end of a tube line, it was all very airy and spacious at first.  Knowing if there was a bad cold, chest infection or deadly virus to pick up then I would find a way, I was travelling with my modified bank robbers mask on but supplemented with sun glasses.

EbbP-n-X0AAPl-v

Luke, I am your father!

It should be said I never ever wear sunglasses, I think the last time was in 2012 and there isn’t that much sun deep underground either!

EbbPyJEXgAEPCIh

I picked a seat close to some double doors as I reasoned the air would be moving more freely here on the off-chance my special forces mask fund the 0.5% virus particle that wasn’t picked up with the 99.5% guarantee.

The train gradually picked up people as we headed into Central London, people sitting as far apart as they could and the train always being many times quieter than usual not just in terms of the numbers of people but how quiet everyone was.  I guess everyone was too busy trying not to die to play their annoying music or make pointless phone calls as they usually do.

I can tell you one thing though, there isn’t much that is more claustrophobic in life than wearing a totally air-tight mask with a sore chest in extremely hot trains and stations deep underground during a pandemic.  I can only marvel how some of the special forces can fight in this gear though it must be said I’ve worn it before with only moderate discomfort, that day was one of those days I was out of breath just sitting still.   I comforted myself with the thought if it is so hard to breath then it must be even harder for the virus to get in.

Changing at Bond Street was quite surreal, usually one of the busiest stations and there was barely anyone around at all.  I realised I missed quite a few things such as escalators, the tannoy announcements now with new safety messages added.  The noise of the tube trains and the whoosh of the hot air blowing down the tunnel which can be either refreshing or agonising depending on how hot it is and what you’ve been up to.

50 minutes after I left home I had reached my destination.  Normally stations are only this quiet early on a Sunday morning or on Boxing Day or New Year, if like me you work every day of the year!

Chancery Lane

Even the busy escalators were mostly empty.

IMG_3489

Overall I wouldn’t say it was a very pleasant experience but aside from the whole virus thing, it was far far from one of the worst journeys I’d taken.  In fact I would give a lot for it to be this way after the virus has been dealt with but then as was said in Lawrence of Arabia.

Dryden: Lawrence, only two kinds of creatures get fun in the desert: Bedouins and gods, and you’re neither. Take it from me, for ordinary men, it’s a burning, fiery furnace.

Lawrence: No, Dryden, it’s going to be fun.

Dryden: It is recognised that you have a funny sense of fun.

About Stephen Liddell

I am a writer and traveller with a penchant for history and getting off the beaten track. With several books to my name including a #1 seller, I also write environmental, travel and history articles for magazines as well as freelance work. Recently I've appeared on BBC Radio and Bloomberg TV and am waiting on the filming of a ghost story on British TV. I run my own private UK tours company (Ye Olde England Tours) with small, private and totally customisable guided tours run by myself!
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6 Responses to Coronavirus Diary 54 – Going on the London Underground!

  1. oh my word…I love your mask, but I do wonder how you can breath in it. The place looks so deserted, like some cataclysmic apocalypse happened and your the last man standing kind of thing. I personally like that better as I truly hate crowds! I do hope your mask protected you from that 5 %.
    Loved Lawrence of Arabia…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve managed to wear it when walking before but the heat and humidity on the underground in a heatwave is oppressive even without a mask. I like the quiet too, it’s one of the reasons I always work on New Years Day or Boxing Day (the day after Xmas) as I have London totally to myself. I hate crowds too, I never go to big public events just because of them and even when I travel, I’d rather go on a much longer route than have to contend with the crowds. I’m glad you liked the film, I’ve been to most of the places in the desert he went to and his home in London. For such a complex and important person, his cottage in the countryside is incredibly simple but I think the film shows how that would fit in with him. I don’t think he was a crowds of person either! His gravers also very beautiful but simple and I think the hardest to find grave I have ever looked for.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I would agree he didn’t seem to be much of a people person. Considering the way he lived and places he went, the less traveled path. I have been known to delay outings I know are usually crowded until a rainy day just to avoid the crowds….but then again I do enjoy the rain.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. If it any consolation, battling in the mask may have been worth it because you look very cool 🕶 a bit like a character in a post-apocalyptic novel 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I need a really noisy motorbike or maybe like Negan on the Walking Dead, a baseball bat covered in barbed-wire…. though I’d go for a cricket bat to keep the standards up after the end of civilisation!

      Like

  3. Boyer Writes says:

    Love it! Wish we were experiencing such emptiness here in Florida…the beaches are crowded…hardly any masks…and less social distances. Oh well, hopefully the young won’t die young…but they think it is only going to be the “old folks.” Keep on your scary mask…no one will dare rob you…and if they do…you’ll know they will be caught because
    they can’t get lost in the crowd! Nancy

    Liked by 1 person

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