If the leading religions of the world have taught us anything, it is that hell is situated underground – a hot, horrible place full of writhing bodies, where you will see and experience things that can never be forgotte. And if that isn't an apt description of the Central line at rush hour then we don't know what is.
Yet, we are a city obsessed with the tube. The tube, it seems, is a bigger part of London life than novelty pop-ups, lost tourists and a hatred of estate agents. And we think we know why…
1. It's the perfect scapegoat
OK, so it’s Wednesday morning and you’ve woken up in a stranger’s bed on the other side of London. It happens to us all. Know what's going to get you out of this sticky situation? Well, firstly a trip to Boots and as much sample perfume and/or aftershave as you can get away with. But after that, it's London Underground that you'll need to turn to. Prone to delays, cancellations, and congestion, it’s the excuse that even the most suspicious boss can’t pick holes in. But maybe brush out the sex hair, just to be on the safe side…
2. It doesn't discriminate
If you live in London and are not the Queen, Alan Sugar or one of those dickheads from 'Made in Chelsea', you will inevitably spend a fair chunk of your time on the Underground, pressed up against your fellow Londoners. The good news is that every man, woman or child gets the tube in the same way – unlike other forms of travel where you can pay an extra 50 quid for a first-class upgrade and a bit of extra legroom. There is no priority treatment here. If we have to suffer then we're are all bloody doing it together.
3. It succeeds where normal society fails
The tube has its own strange, maddening but somehow functioning democracy that manages to be self-policing in a delightfully British way – all huffing, puffing and stern looks of disapproval. However chaotic our lives are, in the tube at least there is a strict etiquette that we all work to enforce – a silent camaraderie and understanding that the only way are going to get through this is by working together. Let people off first, give pregnant women your seat and all equally despise the person with loud music.
4. It's a daily freak show
People love to gawp at the absurd. If we didn't then nobody would be following Kanye West on Twitter. That said, even Yeezy can't compete with the type of crazy you get on the tube. In fact, it isn't so much a transport system as much as it is 250 miles of flypaper for freaks. From the coked-up city boys, to the hover-board riding kids and, if you're super lucky, occasionally, a dog, no day is ever the same, so sit back (in you were lucky enough to get a seat, of course) and enjoy the show.
5. It's drama galore
Like a soap opera that we’re all forced to watch now that 'EastEnders' has got a bit shit, the tube gives us pantomime villains (we’re looking at you, person who won’t move down the carriage), unlikely heroes (any driver who is willing to break up our misery by cracking a joke over the loudspeaker) and dramatic stand-offs (in the will they/won’t they saga of the night service). And if all else fails there will always be the excitement of watching someone get stuck in the closing doors. Who said us Londoners aren't a friendly lot?
Chatted up by a cute guy while reading a baby book on the Tube last night. That's a new one.— Technically A. Vegan (@YvetteCaster) January 9, 2016
6. It's real-life Tinder
The tube is the place to fall in love. Don't get us wrong, we don't mean ACTUALLY fall in love. You know, like talk to someone and ask them out on a date. Oh, god no. We mean sit there on a daily basis and watch, heart aching, as you see the person who you are most definitely meant to have a dog with. And while we will never pluck up the courage to do anything about it, the tube gives us a couple of stops and a confined space to at least daydream. As well as an excuse to casually bump against them. And for that, we thank it.
7. And lastly, dare we say it, it's actually quite good
Shit rhyming posters aside, the tube is a feat of Victorian engineering and one of the greatest transport networks in the world. The trains come every two minutes – anyone who's spent their adolescence in the countryside waiting half an hour for a bus can tell you how wondrous it is.
So yes, it is dirty and chaotic and full of rats and freaks but it connects every corner of this place we call home. It is our dirt, our rats and our freaks – and while we might complain (and we do, fucking hell do we complain) we won't have anyone else say a word against it.