Tuesday, September 05, 2006


I don't know why NTL doesn't get their act together and fix my GODDAMN internet service. This is the third day now. I'm in the office sneaking to do a post, which isn't cool, because I do my best work when I'm home sitting naked except for my grey boxers with the frayed elastic. So I'm doing a lazyman thing today and posting up my column. I also have this induction thing to go to which might take all day for all I know. Sigh. Why can't every day be pay day?

London vs the Trindy 500

LONDON was recently voted as having the best transport system in the world. Which instantly sent commuters into paroxysms of laughter. It certainly had me rolling in my seat while simultaneously rolling my eyes, a combination which, I’m sure, made me look like the ideal candidate for an exorcism and a stick between my teeth so that I wouldn’t bite my tongue. It wouldn’t have seemed so funny if, at the time, I wasn’t stuck on a train that had been delayed because somebody had flung themself on the track. Now don’t react in horror – this happens more often than you’d imagine. In fact, it’s now become so de rigueur for people to attempt suicide by trying to be crushed by the tube that it hardly gets reported anymore, unless entire families or a pretty girl is involved.

This is one of a few excuses for delayed journeys that commuters are willing to accept, albeit just barely, the growing view is that those who are fed up with the act of living shouldn’t make life difficult for those who decide to keep on giving it a try. ‘Whatever happened to hanging oneself?’ a co-worker recently asked, after she too came in to work an hour late because someone wanted to see the underbelly of her train. One train driver last week – just a few days after London transport won its dodgy accolade – refused to continue driving because the sun was at the wrong angle in the sky. Commuters rang bells and tried the emergency exit ad nauseam but that train did not move until the sun was where it was supposed to be.

Now, this isn’t going to be another London bashing column (not completely) so read on. Travel in London is expensive. London is divided into six zones, with central London being zone one and the outskirts of the capital being zone 6. The others fall in between. Your transport cost is based on which zones you are travelling in. If you work and live in zone 1, then you’re pretty lucky. Your transport is cheap, but you’d probably need to live in a cardboard box in the alley behind the Strawberry Moon club because you can’t afford to pay rent. Unless, of course, your father happens to be a former prime minister of a twin island republic that begins with T. I live in zone 3 and work in zone 1. My transport for the week is £26.

Now, if I was paying more than TT$1,000 a month for public transport, you can bet your bottom dollar no maxi driver – did I say maxi, I meant personal taxi – could make me late for anything, whatever reason. But the fact is delays are common place, fires in the tube are normal occurrences, trains are cancelled pretty regularly and Mayor for London Ken Livingston raises fees with the unsuspected and deadly stealth of a ninja. And this doesn’t take into account the buses where your hands slip down the hold-on rails because it’s been turned into a greasy pole from people eating their fried pork sausages and chips while standing on the bus. Not to mention the bus drivers that see you pelting down the street, hair, handbag, shoes and breasts flying, only to slam the door and drive off two second before you reach him. And banging on the bus is futile, since he really doesn’t care if the next bus arrives in 20 minutes and you’ve just embarrassed yourself in front of a few dozen people. And then there are the drivers that stop in the middle of God’s back and tell you to get off, this is their last stop.

But despite all this it’s still better than our transport back home, if only for the simple reason that you won’t have a bus driver mow down a street full of people and then get off with the legal equivalent of being grounded for the weekend. If anything happens to me on a train I can, at the very least, expect my medical bills to be taken care of, and not have to deal with the double insult of being in an accident that was someone else’s fault and then having to beg the public to donate money so I could get the surgery I need go to school and try to move on with my life. If any of this sounds familiar, it should. Remember the huge accident in San Fernando a few years back with the girl that lost her leg and got no compensation? Well, that’s the one I’m referring to, but really, it could be any, these things happen with such alarming regularity in our island of Trindy 500.
So yeah, I’m one of the masses that can’t believe that this comedy of errors that London transport is sometimes is the best in the world. But it sure beats touts cussing you for not stopping their maxi, drivers assaulting your girl children, small maxis drag racing to see who can make it to Five Rivers junction first to pick up the two people standing on the pavement who may or may not be waiting for transport and the defibrillator-cum-sound system that rocks your chest, causing arrhythmia in five and 50 year olds alike.

1 comment:

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