S’no good

Yesterday evening was one of the worst I have ever experienced since moving to London. I always thought times of trouble were supposed to bring camaraderie within the British population, but last night, the lashings of snow that fell seemed to bring out characteristics of many people that were unwelcoming.

The warning of snow gracing the UK with its presence had been broadcast throughout most of last week, and although I had planned to go to a gig in Kentish Town, I left my Harrow house fully prepared (with the exception of sensible footwear) for problems to occur when I was on my way home. What I didn’t expect however, was for TFL to be so obtuse and abrupt with me when asking for help…

While waiting on a held Metropolitan line tube at Baker Street station, the announcement came to passengers that the line was now ‘suspended’ and we had to ‘find another way home’. This news was, of course, not good and the only thing I could think to do was to get off and find a worker that would hopefully be able to direct me in the best way to get to Harrow. When asking two members off staff for their recommendations, the first told me he didn’t know anything, wasn’t going to find out anything, no TFL services were running and that we should just stay in the station and wait for information, however, the second guy told me to head quickly to Marylebone as there was a Chiltern train waiting there to go to Harrow-on-the-Hill or we could try and find a bus. How can two people who work for the same company and receive the same information tell me two completely different things?

After running (very unsuccessfully) in the snow to Marylebone, I finally boarded a train that was due to leave at 23.57. I had never seen a train so crowded before as this service seemed to be the only way of getting people who resided in north west london anywhere near their homes. At around 23.50, seven minutes before the train was due to depart, problems started occurring in the form of agitated people trying to board the train when it was already full. People began banging on the windows, yelling instructions to me and people around to squash up and, to use their terminology, ‘get fucking closer together so we can all get on the fucking train.’ As a northern girl of 20 who shies away from confrontation and tries her best to please everyone, this was too much, and I started getting worried. I literally couldn’t move anywhere. The people that were seated around me were bunched up so passengers could gather in the middle, and there was no room for anyone to go in between them. When one of the rowdy youths eventually pushed his way on the train he started shouting, aiming his anger to the people stood in the middle… ‘I told you I could fucking get on. Didn’t want me on this train did you? Well I’m fucking on it now.’ I kept looking down at the floor wishing three things; the guy didn’t have a weapon, the guy would not single me out in any way while he was shouting and that I could just get home without anymore trouble. A lady who was sat with her husband and two other couples on the six seats next to me tapped me and gestured, ‘come in here dear, you look frightened’. Her and her husband made room for me and spoke to me so kindly and tried to make me feel better. They kept me company the whole ride back to my house, asking me about where I was from and why I had moved to London. They were reassuring and as I went to alight from the train, wished me the best of luck with getting home along with luck for all my future endeavors. Having somebody, even though they were strangers, to look after me, was very uplifting, and I found myself smiling as I walked, again unsuccessfully (the shoes I wore were a terrible choice) to my house on the hill.

Now I have had chance to reflect on the evenings events, I can’t help thinking ‘why can’t everyone behave like that in testing times and situations that are out of our hands?’ Shouting at people who were already making others claustrophobic from practically standing on them did not do anything for the angry guy except make a few passengers very wary of him and the TFL workman who told me there was no way I could get home didn’t achieve anything other than this angry blog post written about him. I understand that in certain situations, TFL can’t magically pull a bus out of their arse and set it on a route to get me home, but all I was asking for was a little bit of guidance. TFL, like the rest of the nation, knew there was going to be heavy snowfall this weekend, so my question is, why wasn’t anybody prepared for it and why could they not have a plan of attack ready and in place? If they helped the passengers and worked with them instead of against them, surely the frustration and anger that came out in some people could have been suppressed…