If you’re using London’s wonderful network of underground trains, there are some basic DOs and DON’Ts you should know about. The book of unwritten tube etiquette is seemingly lost on some London Underground passengers, so here’s a gentle reminder of what you should and shouldn’t be doing.
1. Get your newspaper out of my friggin’ face right now
We all picked up a complimentary copy of the Metro, and we’d all like to absent mindedly flick through while pretending not to smell the whiff of body odour emanating from the overweight gentleman to our right’s armpits. But there’s a time and a place to unfold that newspaper and pour over today’s Guilty Pleasures, and it’s NOT while another human being is stationed close enough to feel your moist, hot breath penetrating their pores.
Right now is not the bloody time to unroll that newspaper baton you diligently tucked under your armpit and wave the crinkly pages about like a you’re trying to smite down an irritating fly. Your daily instalment of Rush Hour Crush will just have to wait until there is enough space to avoid giving someone a paper cut in the eye.
2. Stop standing at the top of an escalator/in front of a barrier/at the entrance to a platform and ponder life’s existence you intolerable buffoon
Put yourself in the shoes of the tube-goer behind you, playing an innocent game of How Fast Can I Get to My Platform?, bobbing and weaving appropriately as unwritten tube etiquette denotes we must. Suddenly we’re sent clattering into the back of your smug little head as you come to a complete standstill to a) check a map b) stare at your phone c) ponder the meaning of life, the universe and everything in it.
Have you not noticed all the people scurrying around you, swarming toward the platform like flies to a turd? Do you enjoy the feeling of a strangers’ teeth colliding with your scalp? If so, we suggest you get on Google and locate the nearest scalp/teeth fetish club, stop roping innocent commuters into your sordid fantasies.
3. Please remove your obnoxiously large suitcase out of everyone’s way
We get it, you’ve got somewhere to be, somewhere you apparently have to bring all of your worldly belongings to. Suitcases are admittedly essential to carry your things from A to B, as much as they piss everybody up by taking up valuable space on this already jam packed tube. But there are certain rules reserved especially for you, oh suitcase carrier, as you are inevitably inconveniencing every single person on this carriage with your massive case.
You just simply cannot stand in the door of a carriage with your huge plastic rectangle in everyone’s way and expect people to bend their bodies around you like a game of human tetris. No. Stop. Go and stand in a corner quietly and think about what you’ve done.
When walking with your obnoxiously large suitcase, do not suddenly stop in your tracks and stare over your shoulder like that bit in the Lion King where Simba is caught in a wildebeest stampede. Mufasa isn’t coming to save you. Run away Simba, run away and never return (until you’ve got rid of that bloody massive suitcase).
4. Do not walk or stand in a line with your entire family
Frequent London Underground users will be all too familiar with the art of bobbing and weaving through fellow commuters, trying your hardest to power walk your way to the platform without running over a child or getting bashed in the stomach by an oversized handbag. It’s almost like playing a real-life video game, except you collect free newspapers instead of lives and it’s not really acceptable to jump over obstacles (children). But you, you standing-in-a-line people, you take that small piece of joy out of our otherwise mundane existences, trudging along while you yack away to everyone else in your idiotic troupe.
You are a human barricade. Unless you are trying to prevent someone from committing an actual murder, it is never acceptable to stand in a linked-arm row with your mum, nan, brother and niece. Stop this right now you intolerable imbecile.
5. Put that tuna sandwich away right now
“I just can’t wait to smell a stranger’s lunch on the tube today” said no one ever. You’ve gotta eat, we get it, but if the place you’re choosing to dine is a small, compact space filled with other people then can you please choose something with a slightly less offensive smell?
It gets even worse in the summer, when the stifling humidity of the tube carriage means that the stench of your slightly moist tuna sandwich lingers in the air and soaks into the beings around you, meaning we all leave the carriage reeking of Eau De Tuna. If Jesus managed 40 days in the desert without a Sainsbury’s Meal Deal, you can wait 10 minutes.
6. If there is no room for your body on this tube carriage, do not put your body into this tube carriage
We’ve all seen them, the suit wearing, tie-flapping type of dude who simply HAS to be somewhere within the next 10 minutes and will stop at nothing to wrangle his way on to an already packed tube carriage. And when he’s on, in the full knowledge that everyone on the carriage is staring daggers at his self-important mug, he’ll say: “Can everyone move down please? We don’t have any room over here.”
THERE WAS PLENTY OF ROOM UNTIL YOU WENT IN THE ROOM, STUPID. Unless your wife is about to give birth/you are about to give birth out of your secret vagina/you have to get to a secret underground hatch and type in a series of numbers every 108 minutes to prevent the world from imploding in an electromagnetic catastrophe a la Lost, there is no need for you to rush. Now get back on the platform and wait for the next train like everybody else.
7. Stop pretending you can’t see that pregnant woman
This female human is a moving, breathing, vomiting vessel in which an actual human child is developing, which is pretty bloody amazing when you think about it. She is carrying a specimen of brand new human life. All you are carrying around is last night’s dinner. You know which is more important here, so stop staring at your phone and give her your bloody seat.
8. The tube is not the place for sexy time
You can explore the contents of your darling’s mouth at literally any other time and we wouldn’t give a crap, but in this small, compact space where we can’t help but overhear the squelch of saliva being passed from one orifice to another, it is not OK. Same goes for stroking, caressing and staring into one another’s eyes. Please vacate the premises immediately.
9. Do not have conversations on the tube because the tube was made for silence
Do not engage in idle chit chat with your companion, do not attempt to call your mother during a small window of opportunity where you get signal (you’ll only spend the entire time saying “WHAT? SORRY MUM I THINK I LOST YOU FOR A SECOND THERE, WHAT DID YOU SAY ABOUT GRANDDAD’S KNEE?” anyway) and don’t you dare say anything more than a polite “hello” to that guy you recognise from work.
Worst of all, NEVER strike up a conversation with a stranger. Ever.
The tube is not the place for chat. It is a place to be silent and reflect on life while staring into the deep, dark and infinite abyss of underground tunnels. Respect the calming aura of the silent tube, rather than polluting it with your mindless blatherings. Shut the eff up.
10. Never, under any circumstances, take a selfie on the tube
If you do, you deserve to have your Oyster card broken into a thousand tiny pieces and you face plastered on posters at all tube stations, letting everyone know that you are not permitted to travel. You are the human equivalent of the District line. Ugh.