On the long slog home from SW to N, it’s hard to see loveliness in the Underground. The tube is a dreaded but inevitable medium whose only purpose is to get you from one place to another, and the less time spent in it the better. These past couple of weeks have been particularly unpleasant – it’s still cold enough outside for me to shlep around in my parka, but once underground I become a veritable puddle of sweat (combined with the lack of personal space and the hacking of fellow travellers with lingering colds, it’s not a pretty picture).
There is one stretch of my commute during which all this is amplified: the long, never-ending passage that connects the Jubilee and Piccadilly lines in Green Park station. I’m pretty sure it spans several postcodes and/or city blocks. It’s a struggle just to put one heavy foot in front of the other – a seemingly futile action, as the tunnel rapidly becomes one of those dream sequences where the faster you run, the longer your road becomes, and you just can’t seem to make it to the end.
Keeping all this in mind, I might be forgiven for completely missing something delightful – something I picked up after watching Geoff Marshall’s video, The Secret Bits of the Victoria Line, on the Londonist blog. I shouldn’t be surprised though…thus is the magic of London, where there is something new to be noticed if only you are willing to open your eyes.
This Green Park tidbit concerns the tiling of the walls, which I previously registered as vaguely swimming pool-like but otherwise non-remarkable. What Geoff Marshall’s video brings to light is that the design in fact has a very particular purpose. When stepping off the Jubilee line (represented on the tube map in silver), the little squares on the wall are all silver. As you walk a bit further down the tunnel, you’ll notice a few blue squares thrown in there, representing the blue Piccadilly line (but indicating that it’s still miles away). Eventually, you see the tiles have switched to being made up of more blue than silver squares, and at the very end of the tunnel, before descending onto the Piccadilly platform, the squares are all blue (hurray – you’ve made it!!)
So there you have it – a tube map hidden on the walls of a tunnel which, before this, I hadn’t afforded a moment’s notice (other than to curse it). It’s still a trek, but now at the very least I have something to smile at while overheating and wishing teleportation was a real thing.