I’m staggered that in the aftermath of the heroic, death-defying rescue of the 33 Chilean miners (go, Chile, go!), it appears to be beyond the wit of Transport for London to regulate the temperature in their new (note: new) rolling stock on the Victoria line. At 10am yesterday morning the carriages were being heated (uh-huh) by hot air blowing with some considerable force from the a/c vents. Why? The same was true of the bus I took home from Balham later on. Again, why?? Outside the temperature was an almost-balmy 15C with only the faintest whisper of a breeze.
The doubtless desk-bound dimwits who authorise this should be forced to journey from Cockfosters to Modern via Upminster wearing a 15-tog duvet every day for the next 40 years armed with four bags of shopping and a recalcitrant toddler! Granted, the temperature has dipped (and granted, you might be chilly travelling at 5am if your MO is hotpants and a handkerchief top in October) but not so much as to warrant additional heating on the Underground… just saying those last five words makes my blood boil at the waste of energy and sheer stupidity of those responsible.
If Boris Johnson and co. are serious about making London a city fit for the Olympics, then this burning issue must be addressed. Similarly, if the workforce is to endure another winter of financial gloom, savage cuts and various permutations of ’flu (and of course, everyone is now so terrified being sacked, they’ll struggle in regardless spreading their lurgi to all and sundry in a colossal own-goal of counter-productivity), then the important but seemingly overlooked issue of adequate ventilation on public transport, in shops and in offices must be tackled with the same zeal normally reserved for criticising bankers’ bonuses and issuing parking fines.
Bring back the double-decker with its lovely wind-down windows (not those risible flaps that afford no air circulation whatsoever), plush upholstery and flattering pre-EU legislation lightbulbs not ghastly strip-lighting that makes everyone look like they’ve just spent the day boozing in a low-rent nightclub, and for goodness’ sake bring back bus conductors! Perhaps then ill-mannered school children scoffing chicken from a box would be a) forcibly ejected from the vehicle, and b) held in detention and forced to eat gruel if they dared to clamber past me without so much as a “skooze”, especially if I’m wearing light-coloured suede (as I am wont to do on a dry Autumnal day). As a result of heat exhaustion, dehydration, delays caused by platform congestion, road works and noise pollution, I was forced to spend the latter part of yesterday in a darkened room trying to recover from a TfL-induced migraine.
What is it about the unholy union of Bob Crow and Boris Johnson that makes me want to bang their heads together in manner of Peggy Mount in Sailor, Beware!? In my mind’s eye I can still picture the elegant clippie who used to work the 19 bus route in the 70s. A lady of a certain age yet svelte and sprightly, she was always immaculately turned out with grey gloves and wore her hair in 40s-style victory rolls. She exuded glamour and gravitas, and although people routinely behaved themselves (hey, they even queued in those days), in the event of a fracas I imagine she’d have brooked no nonsense.
She certainly would not have tolerated the torrent of vile language that spews forth from passengers as they “converse” or worse, reveal the ins and outs of their “private” lives for all to hear as they gabble unabashed on their mobiles. On a summer’s day her pretty painted toenails would peep through flat navy sandals and I used to think: that’s the job for me, a cheery “any more fares, please”, loping up the stairs and down again, helping the odd dowager duchess off at Pont Street and handing her her Fortnum’s bags, then hanging by the rail on the hop on platform, the wind in my hair as we’d sail over Battersea Bridge bound for the garage and the bright lights of Clapham. Ding ding!