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Under The Ground 12: Follow The Sign

January 14, 2011

I hear it approaching and run onto the platform, dodging and weaving through the tide of humanity disgorged here. Several signs obscure the only one which tells me anything useful – whether this train goes all the way to Walthamstow or only as far as Seven Sisters. I decide not to risk it, and to wait until I can read the sign, unhelpfully situated halfway down the platform. I miss the train, which sets off happily on its way to Walthamstow. Damn. The now visible sign tells me that the next two trains go to Seven Sisters. Fair enough. But then so do the next three. By now feeling victimised, I approach one of those London Underground people who do the inaudible platform announcements and wave table tennis bats at trains. Why aren’t any of the trains going to Walthamstow? “You need to watch the sign”. Awestruck by this diamond of elliptical logic and feeling I’m missing something obvious, I explain that this is exactly what I’m doing and try again. Same answer. Is it worth positing that answers to ‘why’ usually begin with ‘because’ or ‘I don’t know’? It isn’t. His manner tells me he is either (a) faking an extreme case of clinical depression, (b) actually suffering from same or (c) congenitally rude. A Walthamstow train pulls in. “Here’s your train” he says, his voice a half-and-half concoction of sarcasm and triumph. “Thank you” I reply, for my part trying to suggest that he’s made this happen. But actually I already knew. Because I’d watched the sign.

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