Sunday, 17 June 2012

Classy Transport


"The 1930s, when trams were looked down on as transport for hoi polloi." Roger Nuttall (That's why they were all scrapped after the war.)

Bicycles are beloved of hipsters in Stoke Newington (with a pod/trailer for the baby). Stokey dads also like butch baby buggies that look like lawnmowers.

“People are thinking of driving less” according to Twitter. I never think of driving less - I can't drive. My friends used to bully me to learn, or at least get a bicycle, because I ought not to travel by bus and mingle with common people. Also if I had a car I wouldn’t have to live near a bus stop, which would be on a common high street – I could live in a Victorian conversion down a leafy avenue (that would be dark and scary when you came home at night). (They were so sure they knew what was best for me – why was that? They also thought I should be married to a barrister and live in Fulham.)

I expect there are different kinds of car, and that which one you buy speaks volumes about you to someone who speaks the language, but they all look alike to me. I just about tell apart a people carrier, a Chelsea tractor, a limo and a bubble car. There must be some kind that looks cool but brands you as a vulgarian. N-Rs drive bespoke Rollses with built-in champagne sets and cigar humidors.


But of course if you move to the country, you have to drive. Just don’t forget that one day you might have to give up. Upwards think that they ought to want to live in the country – in a village, not a country town.

The tube is all right, because everybody takes it. Also, you’re underground, so you can’t see the places you’re travelling through. You can get the tube somewhere acceptable and familiar, and get out somewhere acceptable and familiar. And you have somehow not gone through the places in between -- which might be a bit common. You have to ask a fellow Londoner which part of the city they live in, then you ask “What tube station is it near?” If they say “There isn’t one”, let your eyes glaze over, and drift away to talk to someone else.

Actually Ken Livingstone vastly improved transport to Stoke Newington – more 73 buses, and hopper buses that cross east-west. Night buses made a difference too. No wonder the yuppies are moving in.

Aristocratic Stow Crats and middle-class Weybridges like to ride (horses, not quad bikes), and Nouveau Richards buy a big place in the country with stables, paddock and indoor riding school (manège).

Trains are full of teenagers, old people, families with small children, and tourists with too much luggage who get on at Gatwick and have a loud conversation about what fun it is to ride on a train for a change. They used to have first, second and third class. In wartime morale-raiser movies everybody travels together in crowded carriages where you may be handed a baby or a beer bottle. Quiet carriages and family carriages are the new second and third class.

1 comment:

  1. Ha! Finally someone who shares my feelings and views and that subject! I haven't been as resistant to group pressure, though, and did my driver's license a few years ago (but I've never touched a steering wheel since then!).

    I live in Vienna, a city with an excellent public transport system, so I've hardly felt the need to buy a car.

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