The Underground


As I said some time ago, the London Tube is an incredible system of transport, but when it comes to human interaction it’s rather dark and gloomy. People avoid speaking to and looking at one another. Even those who know one another speak sparingly, and if they do communicate, they do it through a vocabulary of expressions only they  can understand. So the Underground is a bit of a paradox, modern, vibrant and fast moving, but relationally dead and inanimate.

However, in the midst of all this a little light would often go on. Someone would be sitting there looking at their mobile, which by the way we all seem to do when we get on to the train, and suddenly their eyes would light up, and forgetting their surroundings, they would smile radiantly having connected with someone beyond the relational gloom of the train. For one brief moment a tiny space on the Underground would brighten up with relational light, and I would smile to myself  knowing we are human after all, even if it takes a mobile to remind us of that.

Image – courtesy Pixabay


About Don

I love life. Sometimes it makes sense, other times not. Discerning its underlying patterns and beauty always provides great reward and meaning and is a passion I ineptly follow. I feel deeply attached to nature and love the sea with its distinct moods and colour and find walking along its beaches wonderfully inspiring. Writing, sketching and photography is a sheer joy for me and the blog is one of the places I am able to express these pursuits.
This entry was posted in Beauty, Communication, inspiration, Life, Relationships and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

36 Responses to The Underground

  1. Dan Antion says:

    I always try to get some photos from inside subway and train stations, even airport terminals. I love the activity level and it is weird how it’s juxtaposed with the lack of interaction. Great post Don.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mavrik says:

    Yes I would agree that the London underground, though an efficient mass transit system, can be very cold and lonely. Nice post


  3. Susan Feniak says:

    A bright to everything! 🙂


  4. nrhatch says:

    I like to talk to people when they are “least expecting it” ~ in elevators, subways, check out lines, etc. Most return my smile. A few “sour pusses” do not. But my batting average is pretty good. :mrgreen:


  5. Mary says:

    Interesting human dynamics Don, not wanting to make the connection – perhaps because others will see, or because of not wanting to break the dead silence. Same as what I’ve experienced in some of the big cities in the States on subways, trains or buses ~


  6. QP and Eye says:

    The trains look like they’ve had a birthday, so bright and freshly painted. Very different from when I rode the underground in the 70s. When they’re texting you know they’re alive. I was on a train heading in to London for work and when the person next to him got off, he slowly rolled on to the floor, dead. We thought he was sleeping.


    • Don says:

      What a sad experience, Linda. Yes, the trains really look good, although they’ve been like that for a long time now. We’ve been coming to London every year for the last 12 years and they’ve always looked pretty good.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Val Boyko says:

    Great post Don! I get a sense that people keep to themselves with eyes down out of a sense of privacy. I feel withdrawal and detachment rather than coldness, animosity or fear.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. We are human after all; social creatures. Lovely thoughts Don. ❤
    Diana xo


  9. Excellent details, Don. You share this beautifully!


  10. Nancy! That just what I like to do and , like you, my batting average is pretty good too. I think it partly depends on the time of day that you travel. Rush hours are horrid, so packed but more relaxed journeys are better. More and more people though have their heads in their phones and it is hard to catch their attention. Another thought provoking pits, Don. Thank you. ::)

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Hariod Brawn says:

    I think that our psychological space closes down so as to echo the confinement of the physical space Don. The same group of people would likely be warm and responsive on a bright, sunny day on the beach or out on the Sussex downs.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. davecenker says:

    Buried beneath the surface, perhaps The Underground is a hiding place where thoughts and feelings are repressed, unwilling to fight the pressure to emerge from the darkness. But, as you say, it is comforting and encouraging to see signs that we are indeed human, and that the light will find a way to shine, one way or another 🙂


  13. I am one of those outgoing, gregarious sorts and for me, trains, planes, buses are like this wonderful place I can turn myself off. Be alone and private in a sea of human life. I don’t have to interact and so I don’t. I suspect it’s less a testament to the train and more a testament to feeling pressured to be more engaged in other areas of my life.


    • Don says:

      I go with that Noelle, but hell, just a smile doesn’t cost anything. There’s an abruptness and impatience as well. But then I suppose everyone is intentionally going somewhere and they simply want to get the ordeal of the train trip over. It’s all so mechanical and robotic. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  14. calvin says:

    I don’t own a cell phone or a tablet. When off the reservation and in city mouse incognito, I am that seemly tired old boring nob who bushwhacks strangers by saying ‘Hello’ just to see the look of horror and surprise in their face. I still make my fun the old fashion way I guess, face to face commando style -unplugged mobility. Go figure huh. Your right though. And I worry our view of the world is shrinking, unless it fits into a little screen and helps us get through the passage of time, it is undeserving of our attention -we humans have had a love affair with escapism since the dawn of first light.


    • Don says:

      I agree Calvin, that love affair with escapism has been with us a long long time now, but what would we do without a little escapism. keeps you sane at times. By the way, I just couldn’t imagine you being a ” boring nob.” People like yourself certainly expand a shrinking world. Great to hear from you Calvin.


  15. I, too, find it a social commentary of the times that we prefer communicating with each other on a tiny screen we hold in our hands with someone who is somewhere else rather than saying hello to the person sitting next to us. Amazing…and not in a good way, I should think.


  16. ladyfi says:

    I think it depends what time of day you travel… Commuters are tired in the mornings and evenings, but I find that people are more social at other times of the day.


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