Becoming a grown up on the London Underground

This week I had another trip to London to attend Christmas in July and it was to be the second time getting the tube on my own. To seasoned Londoners, this statement probably seems absurd and ridiculous, I mean how difficult can it be? Well with me anything can happen. Now I am not a dappy person by nature (at least I hope people don’t label me as that) but give me a bit of pressure and I can make some down right stupid decisions. Really stupid moves, that I possibly wouldn’t tell people about. I have made some silly moves on car journeys and have ended up driving through city centres that I didn’t mean to head to. Stressed was not the word.

I used to work in London and got the train to Marylebone every day. What I did manage to successfully pull off was dodging tube rides. I had a half hour walk to work from the station and for me this was perfect to avoid the tube, get exercise and save me money. The obvious choice indeed but it just put off the inevitable, I had always told people I don’t ‘do’ the tube but I always knew it might catch up with me one day. Face your fears is the best policy isn’t it?

This particular trip to London would involve the tube, no avoiding it, including one change. I had braved the tube a couple of months earlier and successfully got myself on the right tube and got from A to B smoothly, I knew then that I had made a fuss about nothing. I never used to be particularly wimpy but for some reason I have never wanted to embrace the tube.

I have got flights on my own and found them to be no problem, I think the fact that it is quite a controlled environment at an airport makes it easier. You just need to find your check in desk on the screen, check in, drop off your bags and take yourself off to departures. It involves a lot of queuing and although I hate waiting in line, it gives me plenty of time to figure out whether I might have made an error or not, a potentially massive error. Nothing horrendous like the wrong flight, that couldn’t happen.

So I left home positive about my day but had that slight unease like you get just before an interview, I then got the train and marched on down to the underground. Took the horrific escalators (see this post), followed the crowds (looking like I knew where I was going) and jumped on the Bakerloo line and then knew to change for the Metropolitan line, easy peasy. That was until I got distracted when I had to squeeze in the doorway and face someones armpit whilst being acutely aware that the man in front of me was looking at my chest. The tube stopped and as I stood wedged in I realised just as it was moving away that I had indeed missed my stop. Damn. Well there is nothing like cocking up to make you sort your act and and properly work out how the tubes work, it’s really not rocket science is it. I have annoyed myself by being so ignorant about it, always relying on people to drag me in the right direction. I eventually made it to Kings Cross after retracing my moves on the tube and having to ask someone *ahem* which train I needed to get from Baker Street. It wasn’t clear and I didn’t want to look bewildered and make myself a target for whatever.

After a great day in London and having met Not Yet a Yummy Mummy on arrival at the station I managed to avoid being lost (on my own), I headed off for the return journey. I knew where I was heading, I walked briskly with the crowds, making swift turns here and there until I had arrived at the correct platform. Even after reading it was the correct platform, once the train arrived I got on looked around and suddenly thought ‘no this is the wrong one’ and got straight off. I wasn’t going to make a blunder this time and thought it better to be safe than sorry and you don’t get much time to think as it is. Fortunately most people had got on the train so no one would have seen what a fool I was. So I reassessed the situation only to see that this particular train had my stop en route, as did every train! So six minutes later I got on the train along with the other fifty million people that had just descended on the platform. I knew I should have got the earlier train…