Tube Talk (tales and tutorials)

If you've ever been in London, chances are you've been in the London Underground
image from londontravelogue.wordpress.com
Ah, that's not to bad. But that's when it's empty.
Which is any time from, say, 12 til 5. At night. So not when you need the tube...

So I thought I would make...
Tania's Guide to Tubes
In which she will guide you through rails, etiquette, and sweat patches.

Although the London Tube seems confusing, it really isn't. You just have to know where you're going and where you are.
Look at that. Confusing, right?
But if you think about it, it isn't. I've lived in London (well, Greater London) all my life. I've been to about... 20 of those destinations. So really, relax.
Here is a little sample story. Because people like sample stories, right?
I'm a 22 year old single woman. Attractive (obviously). And I'm about to go to a friend's 23rd Birthday Party. Thus I am dolled up, as little baggage as possible, and I only know a little about London.
Thankfully, you can get little Tube Maps which are small enough to fit into a clutch bag, so here I am, nose pressed against it (oh dear I'm getting my face powder on it :S) because the font is so darn teeny that I can just make out the words "Transport for London" before I need my magnifying glass. Okay, not true, the text is pretty clear as long as you are younger than 45 and your eyesight isn't failing you yet.
I live in West Wickham, so I took the National Rail to Charing X (for those not in the know, this is Londoner for Cross. Because we're lazy).
But now, my party is in a restaurant just off Baker Street, before we head back to the lovely lady's house in Kensington.

First things first, prepare well.
Tubes are hot, sweaty and smelly. This is a party, so it's likely to be in the evening. Rush hour, to be precise. Thankfully everybody is heading in the opposite direction to you, out of London. Well, mostly.

HYGIENE (why does that look spelt wrong?)
So, deodorant/anti-perspirant. You want a good one, which advertises as "EXTREME" and the sad thing is, men's stuff is usually advertised as such. Which you don't want. So go hunting.
Once you've found that great deodorant, you'll want a travel bottle. Of perfume too, if that's your thing (if so, virtually scentless deo is probably better, unless you like the smell of J'adore mixed with Aloe Vera body spray).
Apply liberally before dressing.

This is a difficult one. Tubes have horrible lighting, so if you are planning on meeting any prospective boyfriends on them, you're going to need the right makeup. If you just want to look good for your evening out, it's still difficult. 
As I said they are hot and sweaty. And you will be too, because unless you spray deodorant on your face (which you can feel free to do) you're bound to perspire a little. 
Foundation, I have found (well, I use tinted moisturiser but still) is probably not the best idea, unless you have a good mousse one - these tend to be less apt to run than liquid (haven't tried any of that solid-liquid stuff yet). Also, keep it light, you're going to want to touch up when you reach your destination.
Eye makeup you can pretty much do what you want, but I'm not sure about the merits of mascara and gel eyeliner in such situations, I haven't tried.
Lipstick. I (although I am an attractive 22 year old) don't wear this, so experiment. Or just put it on later. I'd recommend using lip balm though, my lips get really chapped on tubes :(

This is going to go wrong. There is mucho wind in a tube station, as the tubes go past. So you'll want a travel hairbrush, and to use mousse or hairspray before hand. Toothbrushes are actually very useful for brushing down flyaway hairs (and also useful if you're so smashed you have to stay the night in Kensington) 

Please please please don't wear those beautiful Louboutins. I know you'd look stupid walking through the station wearing little fold up pumps with your fab LBD (or LWD for summer), but for the journey they are so much better. I can't tell you the number of times people have trodden on, stuck their briefcase on, their SUITCASE on my foot. And I couldn't bear your beautiful heels snapping or getting scuffed because of some BEASTLY business man who will never see the true merits of nice shoes. By all means take them along, but remember you are going on escalators. And if you lose a heel down that gap, you ain't ever gettin' it back. Also, seeing as I'm going back to Kensington, I'm going to have to walk a little.

Now we're nicely prepared, (and don't forget your pepper spray and rape alarm :D) and in Charing Cross. Sometimes Charing Cross is a very irritating place. Because you have to saunter out of the station and down to Embankment to get the tube. But luckily you need the Bakerloo, so you can go from Charing Cross. You should always buy a travel card, because the chances of you not wanting a tube or bus as well as a train is unlikely.

Northbound or Southbound. Always essential to know, you don't want to end up going backwards, do you? See, if I ended up at Waterloo, I'd've gone wrong. So I'm heading up, to Baker Street.

Tube platforms are boiling hot, but if you stand near the door you get a good draught. If you want a seat, heading to the far ends of the platform gives you more of a chance.

  • Let people out, before getting in. Greedy and anxious to get home as we are, you'll hate it yourself when you're trying to get off, and somebody is pushing themselves on.
  • Old people. We don't respect them enough any more, but please, give them your seat. This is where it helps not to be wearing those heels, because standing is almost certain. Pregnant people too. Many a business man is too wrapped up in his Blackberry and newspaper to even look up, let alone give up their seat. (I know, I'm gender picking here)
  • Seats on tubes are often in twos. It sounds wierd, but generally there is a single door, 6 seats on each side, a double door, 6 and then a single door. And those 6 seats are made up of 3 double seats, meaning the fabric the seat is made out of and the foamy stuff underneath is not individual, it spreads to the second seat. So bouncing up and down, though fun, actually means the person beside you does a little bob too. Fine, until they turn on you.
  • Holding onto the bars. There are ceiling ones and then vertical ones. Now, I know, it's much comfier holding the vertical ones, but please, if it's full, let the little people hold them.
  • Horizontal bars. These are death traps. If you are any shorter than 5'5", your face WILL be in another person's armpit. Sorry about that. But you can console yourself with the fact that your armpits are lovely and sweat free, so nobody is suffering at your hands. Unless your chest is- yeah, you get the idea.
  • Getting off. Again, they should let you off. And, I know you'd like to be polite, but saying excuse me doesn't cut it when you're trying to get to the door. Accommpanied with a little pushing, people usually understand. Usually.
Getting out, follow the signs. And I've hit the escalator. This. Is. Why. I. Dislike. Tourists.
They don't know that you SHOULD ALWAYS STAND ON THE RIGHT. So that people can walk up the left. Bugs me to no end. I think guidebooks are usually quite good at telling them about this though.

And the ticket barriers. If it rejects your ticket, please, don't just try again. And again. And again.
Just go to one of the nice people who'll let you through. They wear navy fleeces and high vis jackets.

Tadaa. You're there. Now to find the restaurant, a toilet, touch up makeup, redo hair, check sweat patches, reapply deodorant, change shoes, give somebody on the staff your other shoes to look after and then come out looking as though you never went through all that agro.
Easy as pie.

Now, as for the Kensington part, this is what I have to say - the only tube from Baker Street to Kensington is the Circle, in which case you will go a long way around to get not very far away. So you can simply walk to another tube station. Or take a bus (travelcard :D).

So, don't get het up about travelling around London. It's a complicated place, I live live here and whenever I go into London I take an A-Z. You'll need one, unless you're just planning on going somewhere simple, like Trafalgar Square (if you can't manage this without using an A-Z, I pity you. Just go to London Bridge, exit, and follow the pigeons. Or the signs. Or the amassing tourists.
Unless you've never been to London before. In which case I forgive you.

Monologue essay epic. Sorry about that.

PS. If you were wondering, the party was great. As was the barkeeep ;P
PPS. I'm not 22, from West Wickham, attractive, in possession of a pair of Louboutins, or in possession of a friend from Kensington. Nor an A-Z. It's my sister's.
PPPS - If you can afford it, take a taxi. For such a special event, it's always better to feel comfortable in cost than cruddy in cheapness.


  1. HMmmmM curious to see what the london underground must be like... :) and yes tourists are potentially the most annoying people in any city. ughhh they walk SLOW in the wrong places and are just breathing disasters :(

    <33 [v] hobovogue

  2. Great post, great tips, thanks for sharing!!
    I'm soon (in October) going to London again, I've also been there twice before and I think tubes are so easy to use, I can never get lost when I'm having my tube map with me and it's so easy to go anywhere I want :D

  3. This is quite possibly the best post I have ever read on a blog ever. I sound mad but SERIOUSLY. Super helpful!!

  4. That was an amazing but also very scary post. I ride on the subway in Toronto, all the time and I never thought of it like this. :)

    Thanks for prepping me to visit London. :)

    Love from Toronto, Canada