It's the train's fault, not the passengers. All those times that I've been furious with pig-ignorant half-people who shout and fight and fart and play loud music and ignore their screaming children on trains might be unjust (maybe) because it's finally dawned on me that these people have been shown the way by the train itself. The train is a little bastard.
I spent most of last week commuting like all of you business robots, getting up in time to scream about how early it is and somehow forcing my corpse all the way to Ladywell train station. This is where I wake up. This is when the anger starts. This is when the trouble begins.
To get on a train you have to pay something called a fare. Every year the financial experts at National Rail look at costs, expenditures and upkeep and then they get all bored and tired and decide to charge us whatever the fuck they like. For instance, I wanted to travel from Ladywell to Waterloo East at 8.20 in the morning. My fare was £3.20. Know how many stops I travelled for that amount of money? ONE. ONE FUCKING STOP AND IT COST £3.20. Of course, I could save money by buying a travelcard. Unbelievably, during this current recession, a travel card costs £7.30. That's right. £7.30 for the privelege of STANDING in a big metal box, full of piss and ripped up Metros, that will take me to my destination but, obviously, sit just outside the station I want to alight at for 15 minutes FOR NO FUCKING GOOD REASON. Of course, I didn't pay £7.30 for a travelcard. No way. I was travelling at a "peak" time so my travelcard cost £10. WHAT THE FUCK IS A PEAK TIME FOR TRAVELLING ON A BRITISH TRAIN? You mean there's actually a less glamorous time to travel on these fuckers?
So after being ripped off (and don't start me on Oyster cards. JESUS CHRIST) by the train we go insane. When we pay our £10 for a travelcard we lose all reason. "I paid", we think, "therefore this train completely belongs to me. I can do whatever the fuck I want. Look at me. I'm writing on the window. Why? BECAUSE IT'S MY FUCKING WINDOW. I've got my feet on the seats. Why? BECAUSE THEY'RE MY FUCKING SEATS AND I CAN SHIT ON THEM IF I WANT. Fuck it, I might as well light up a cigarette and have a puff in between random shouts and, no, you can't sit on the seat next to me. Why? BECAUSE IT'S MY FUCKING ASHTRAY".
We go mad. Of course, we do. We pay lots of money and when you're standing on a platform waiting for a delayed or cancelled train or if you're lucky enough to get on a train, while you're stood there crushed up against the door with someones elbow in your back, someone's umbrella in your throat and someones wandering hand on your bum-bum you have time to think. You think: I paid for this? London Transport is the most expensive public transport in the world but where are the improvements? Where's the security on the train? Why arent there enough trains? Why do trains stop so early at night? Why are all of the trains filthy? Why do people who work for the train companies never know whats going on? Why is it all so fucking shit?
While these questions are kicking around our heads we go mad. The train actually drives us insane. It's not us, it's the actual train itself. That's what the train wants and the train is winning. How can we not go mad when we think about how our money is spent? How can we not go mad when we think about every single bastard useless train employee? Every job interview being this: "Come in. Do sit down. You do seem completely under-qualified for any job at all but are you a terrible cunt also?" "Oh, I'm a frighful cunt". "Congratulations. When can you start?" "Monday. But I'll be late".
And how can we not go mad when we see so many passengers that have been driven mad before us? Last week I was on the tube and right in front of me was one of the beaten. One of the train's victims. He was probably OK once, in the beforetime. But now he was a horrible cunt, a man mentally broken by a transport system that makes no sense at all. He sat in front of me listening to very, very loud music on his big Lobot headphones. I sat reading and pretending that I didn't want to kick his neck in but I soon noticed that he was playing the same song over and over and over again. As soon as it ended he would quickly take his iPod from his pocket and replay the song again. It got to the point where I dreaded the song ending. There was something even worse about the one nano second that it took him to cheerily push replay than it was to actually repeatedly listen to this song. But I looked around and saw, once again, that no one was at all bothered by this prick but me. Maybe they had all come to terms with my new realisation that some people are driven mad by the train. Maybe they were just showing support for his condition. Maybe I was being too harsh on him. Maybe. Let me just explain further that every single time he played that song....HE SANG ALONG WITH IT. EVERY SINGLE FUCKING TIME.
I think I was patient but I couldn't take it anymore. This happened:
"Can you switch that music off now, please?" (I was quite cross).
"Sorry, mate. I have to learn this song."
I closed my eyes, drew strength from somewhere. "What?"
"I have to learn this song."
"No, you don't. No one HAS to learn a song. This is a train. If you WANT to learn a song, learn it at home. That's what the other X-Factor people do. (I was quite smug now) If you want to listen to music you turn it way down so everyone else on the train can't hear and you definitely never, ever sing."
"The volume's broken on my iPod."
"Then you have to switch it off."
"I can't. I have to learn this song."
"Then I will carry on talking to you so you won't be able to learn the song. Fair?"
He switched it off and continued looking at me like I was a nutter? HA! I foamed at the mouth and became aggressively rude to a man who treats trains like they're the Pineapple Studios and I'M the nutter?
That's what our stupidly expensive London Transport did. A man figured out that a travelcard is about 30p cheaper than hiring a rehearsal space and another man realised that he paid so much over the odds for a travelcard that he could just consider himself The Train Police. I found out last week that Boris Johnson is spending £150 Million on "upgrades" to the tube meaning that we'll all be able to get a signal on our mobiles under ground. Imagine that! The one fucking place on this planet where you're guaranteed embarrassing, loud ringtones won't depress the fuck out of you is being taken away from us and it will only cost £150 million. Where will they get that kind of money from? Oh, yes. Us. We'll look back with fondness very soon on those heady days when a travelcard was only £7.30 (£10 before 9.30am).
On a more positive note, my big foot is currently being licked by a dog.