Underground Stories

Penguin has just released a series of short book where writers tell of their thoughts on the various lines which make up the London Underground. Every Londoner has a story, some have several.

I was  once standing  at Earls Court waiting for a District Line train to take me to the City. It was 1985 and  I was to interview another pretentious  non entity for the Sunday Times Business News. As I waited  I was fantasising about a comely commuter who was standing next to me. Suddenly there was a commotion.

The train was coming in and my mother was running down the platform. Head down, shuffling gait,no eye contact, a bag full of the papers from the Housing Association she chaired. She brushed past me, mumbling an apology. She didn’t stop. She was a woman with a mission, she knew  which compartment opened at the Way Out  entrance at St James Park station.

I chased after her.I entered the carriage just behind her. I tapped her on the shoulder. Still no eye contact. “I’m sorry I bumped into you, but I have already apologised.” Typical, no nonsense. “Hello Joan, I’m your son.” She looked up and laughed. “Sorry, I was in a bit of hurry,how are you?”

Reading  this now it comes over as some kind of dream confession delivered on a therapist’s couch. But it wasn’t ,it actually happened. She was a good and attractive woman. Not a great mother, few are. The longer she is dead, the more I love her.


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