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Top five most stressful London experiences

By Time Out London contributor

Nathan James Page

1. Oxford Circus

Trying to exit the Central line platform is a mindfuck. Imagine a cross between ‘Sliding Doors’ and ‘The Blair Witch Project’, or if MC Escher had designed Underground stations. Check out diagrams of the place – it is literally designed to cause confusion, pain and bewilderment. Remember that movie ‘Cube’, where people go from room to room, finding different forms of torture everywhere they look? It’s like that, but you have to mind the gap as well.

2. Flirting with the wrong people

You once chirpsed the man who works in your local kebab shop. There was just something about the way he shaved the elephant leg by the glow of the strip lights that drew out all your best drunken chat-up lines. Unfortunately, the next morning you could remember every word and now you can never go back. On the plus side, at least you’ve finally found a way to curb your 3am doner habit.

Nathan James Page

3. The loo queue

Cider was a bad choice. The booze has run through you in a matter of minutes and now you need a wee more than you need to breathe. But the queue for the bogs is so long it spills right on to the dancefloor and some cheeky sod, mistaking your desperate jig for a funky dance, has cut right in front of you. Do you say something? Do you confront? Your bladder is begging you to man up, but your stiff upper lip says you’d sooner wee yourself in public than kick up a fuss. So instead, you keep schtum, focusing instead on the sensation of cystitis blooming in your innards.

4. The Brixton queue

Scores of Londoners flock from miles around to prospect for a spot on a northbound Victoria line train every week day in Brixton. Even the soothing Pacific blue grab rails and Pritesh Patel’s top-quality magazine kiosk in the ticket hall can’t quell the panic that rises when you see the ‘World War Z’-sized queue stretching back to Electric Avenue. And a special commendation in the Commuter Dread Awards 2016: Bethnal Green, westbound Central line, hellish.

Nathan James Page

5. House hunting

You need to see at least a dozen potential properties a day, or you’ve got to sleep on a sofa for another week. So you view a studio-sized wet room, a converted phonebooth, a bunk bed at the back room of an offy, a yurt in a garage and a hotel room covered in sick. The yurt seems the best option, before you discover that the yurt costs six months’ rent upfront, plus deposit – oh, and it’s on fire. You don’t really feel angry about it – more numb, really – until the estate agent asks you whether you hadn’t thought about buying a place instead.

By Ellie Broughton, who is still waiting for the guy in the kebab shop to give a her a ring.

Illustrations: Nathan James Page

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