Hurrah! Another Tube strike! I’m not entirely clear what this one is about, so I’ll just assume it’s because the Tube workers feel that Underground Ernie is demeaning to their profession until I hear otherwise.
As usual, it’s something to do with Bob Crow, head of RMT, getting his knickers in a twist. I hesitate to use the words “Bob Crow” and “dinosaur” in the same sentence, but… well, everyone else does and I’m not established enough to buck the trend.
STOP PRESS: Apparently it’s something to do with pay. It’s not clear what involvement Underground Ernie has, if any.
So it looks like we’re all going to have to do that Blitz spirit thing for the next couple of days. Still, things could be worse, which is why I present to you…
FIVE BEASTIES TO RUIN YOUR COMMUTE
Seen in: An American Werewolf in London
Causing delays on: Northern Line, Central Line, local bus routes
Description: Of all the supernatural creatures to become, a werewolf seems to be pretty much the worst. Vampires have that whole Rule of Cool thing going on, ghosts get to perv on everyone and possess Whoopi Goldberg and zombies don’t give a damn as long as they get their brains. Werewolves, on the other hand, are the supernatural equivalent of an aggressive drunk – go out, get in some fights, wake up the next day with no memory and chunks of unidentified flesh in their teeth. In the case of this one, he’s doomed to have his victims haunt him like the world’s worst hangover.
On the plus side, he does get it on with Jenny Agutter, so it’s not all bad.
Commuting scene: Two. First, our man takes down a commuter in Tottenham Court Road Underground station late at night – another good reason why you shouldn’t leave it to the last train before going home. Then, later on, in a scene that could definitely not be filmed today, he goes completely apeshit in Piccadilly Circus and causes a massive pile-up.
How do we stop him? Unlike most werewolves, these ones seem able to be killed by regular bullets. If you can convince the wolf to chase you into Tooting, you’re home safe.
Seen in: James Herbert’s The Rats, Lair and Domain.
Causing delays on: The East London Line (so nothing to worry about for the time being).
Description: Radiation is a bugger, isn’t it? One minute it’s helping to treat cancer, the next it’s causing rats to become really big somehow. These ones are approximately dog-sized and have a ferocious appetite for, yes, human flesh. Actually, most mutations that don’t actively result in superpowers seem to cause a ferocious appetite for human flesh. I suppose that’s why the area around Chernobyl is so deserted.
Commuting scene: You know when the train stops in the middle of the tunnel for no apparent reason? Well, imagine how much worse it would be if the reason was huge bastarding rats swarming through the window. Suddenly signal failure doesn’t seem so bad.
How do we stop them? Well, luckily for us, it seems that in addition to becoming huge, these creatures also have a hive society. Kill the Queen and the rest will follow. Alternatively, I heard that what you need to do is get two dishes, right, and you fill one with a mix of flour and cement powder and the other with water. The rats go for the flour and scoff it down, then they get thirsty and drink the water. A few hours later, bam! Concrete rats!
3. The Infected
Seen in: 28 Days Later, 28 Weeks Later, ripped off by most subsequent zombie fiction.
Causing delays on: Piccadilly Line, Jubilee Line, Docklands Light Railway.
Description: The horror movie genre would be so much poorer if only people would just pay attention to the regulations. If the scientist says “Don’t let the chimp out because it’s infected with a disease that’s gonna hella kill everyone,” then assume he knows what he’s talking about. If your infected wife’s in quarantine, don’t go in for a snog. See, people joke about the fact that so many action films involve climactic fights in industrial locations with seemingly no safety precautions (The Terminator, Batman, The Fellowship of the Ring). But having seen the way people in movies behave, you can guarantee that if you did put a handrail up, someone would decide to jump over it anyway.
As a result, London is full of incredibly angry zombies. And I know, plenty of geeks will point out that they’re not technically zombies, but I’m too busy running to argue.
Commuting scene: In 28 Days Later, our heroes make their way along the Docklands Light Railway elevated track into the East End. In a deleted scene, they come across a DLR train that has been converted into a makeshift hospital. I don’t know why you’d think a DLR train would make a suitable hospital. By the way, am I the only person who still thinks it’s fun to sit at the front and pretend to be the driver?
In 28 Weeks Later, our heroes decide to venture into the Underground, because the best place to be when there are zombies running around is in a cramped and pitch-black tunnel. Filmed, like many movies set on the Underground, at the abandoned Aldwych station and the old Jubilee Line platforms at Charing Cross.
If zombies are too much for you, you could always take a taxi…
How do we stop them? Well, as noted above, these zombies aren’t technically undead. They’re just really, really pissed off. Regular bullets will do for them. Fire looks pretty cool, but ultimately you end up with a dude running around on fire and making a nuisance of himself.
Seen in: Quatermass and the Pit (TV and movie version)
Causing delays on: Construction work on the Victoria Line, possibly the Piccadilly Line. Listen out for announcements.
Description: There’s always some excuse with TfL, isn’t there? “Signal failures.” “Defective trains.” “During construction work we came across an ancient alien spaceship and now it’s causing everyone in London to start bashing one another’s heads in.” The Quatermass BBC TV serials and subsequent film adaptations are an obvious influence on the later Doctor Who, and Quatermass and the Pit, in which occult shenanigans turn out to be a malign ancient alien influence, is the obvious precursor to the stories The Daemons and The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit. That tells you most of what you need to know – these aliens came to Earth, did some genetic nastiness and live on in our collective memories as the Devil.
Commuting scene: It’s mentioned in the original serial that they caused trouble when the fictional Hobb’s Lane Underground station was opened in 1927. I’d suggest, given the date and the fact that Hobb’s Lane is somewhere in Knightsbridge, that this was the Piccadilly Line.
In the Hammer remake, the spaceship is unearthed during construction work on the Victoria Line at Hobb’s End. This was the second worst discovery during construction, the worst of all being when they realised they’d be going through Stockwell.
How do we stop them? Well, the bad news is that they’re already dead. However, given that they form the basis of our belief in demons, poltergeists and all that jazz, a little study of the occult may come in handy.
5. Mutant tube workers
Seen in: Death Line (released in the US as Raw Meat)
Causing delays on: Piccadilly Line
Description: Yet another good reason not to leave it until the last train before going home. Death Line concerns a family of mutant cannibal wossnames that have descended fromVictorian underground workers and now dwell in the incomplete Museum station. They lead a carefree existence, picking off and eating commuters from Russell Square and Holborn. Yr. Humble Chronicler, who works in Bloomsbury, now prefers to walk the extra distance to St Pancras.
Commuting scene: Pretty much the whole thing.
How do we stop them? Send Bob Crow down there and wait for them to go on strike.