Sometimes a break can let you see things with new eyes. I haven’t commuted into or out of London by train for over three months now, and a blessed change it’s been. However, today an appointment in London in the morning and one in Sutton in the afternoon necessitated me abandoning the car and commuting by train once more.
My goodness, what an eye-opener it was. After nine years of train commuting, I’d got used to it. After a short break, I saw it with new eyes. I saw the utter filth of London Bridge station. I saw the people crushed into cattle trucks. I smelt the fast food and the perfume and the body odor all mingling in an unpleasant aroma cocktail. I saw people struggling to get though a tiny platform exit on Lewisham station.
London has been described as the heart of the country’s economy, pumping its fiscal blood around the nation. If that’s the case, then the country has heart disease. Its arteries are clogged, unable to cope with the demands placed on them.
No care is being taken of the heart’s health, and that lack of care is reflected in simple cleanliness. We Londoners are well known for our stiff upper lips, for putting up with things. But I do feel that that tolerant nature is being abused, and will continue to be abused unless we stand up and demand the sort of transport system we deserve.