So there I was, totally done in after a week of grisly workstorms (hence light blogging), sitting on the Tube, resting my weary eyes, as it drew into Victoria - or rather, as it drew elegantly to a halt. The power went off, emergency lighting kicked in (thankfully), and the driver announced that there'd been 'an incident' at Victoria station. Not the most welcome of news on the anniversary of 9/11, but mercifully it wasn't that kind of incident but the more localised horror that is euphemised as 'a person under a train'. Fortunately my carriage was equipped with a resident wiseacre who informed us all that there had been six such incidents in the past two months, and that the last time this happened to him, it was four hours before he was off the train. Hmmm thanks for that... In the event, it was an hour and three quarters this time, with the carriage getting increasingly uncomfortable, but it was not overcrowded, everyone had a seat, there were no drunks or loonies aboard, so it was just a matter of sitting it out as best we could. Everyone was very calm and stoical and English about it - whether English or not; there were a lot of Japanese passengers who seemed to be enjoying the whole thing hugely. An air of resigned good humour prevailed, mildly sardonic jokes were exchanged, desultory conversations struck up, and everyone behaved impeccably. Even the driver was as helpful as could be, with frequent updates on 'the situation'. Eventually the power was turned on again, we crawled jerkily nearer to Victoria and pulled up just behind the train in the station, and began an evacuation that was clearly going to take a very long time - down a ladder from the front of the train, a short walk along the track (the power off again now, of course), up a ladder into the next train and out onto the platform. Those of us near the back of the train soon realised this wasn't great news for us - but at least, as we drew very slowly nearer to the front, mobiles started working again, sparking a frenzy of calls and texts which kept most of us occupied. Then there was a change of plan, the power was turned back on, and our train drew into the station just far enough for eveyone to get out via the front door of the front carriage. One hour, 45 minutes - and I was already gasping for a drink when I got on that ill-fated train. The pint of Grolsch in the bar at Victoria never tasted so good.
Does this post have any point or lesson? Probably not, but I was impressed by the well-mannered, stoical and orderly behaviour of my fellow passengers. Despite everything, we remain, by and large, a pretty well behaved and long-suffering lot. We have to be.