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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Mobiles on the underground

I can't believe that they're really going to make it possible to use mobiles on underground trains. They're starting with Glasgow, a system with so few stations you would have thought that people would be able to wait until they'd completed their journeys to make a call.

Presumably they're already measuring up London. I think it's potentially disastrous. The only thing that gets millions of people back and forth to work in London every day is the Metropolitan Omerta. It's this code of silence that keeps Londoners sane. I may have my nose jammed up against your armpit but the fact that I am not talking to you is the best guarantee that I will not engage in any acts of open aggression against you. Out of town visitors are instantly recognisable because they're talking, usually to say something like "I couldn't do this every day". (To which all Londoners assent between gritted teeth, we wouldn't wish you to.)

Imagine a rush hour train in the stifling heat of the Victoria Line. That's bad enough. Now imagine that carriage full of people engaging in gormless phone conversations with unseen friends, business colleagues, boyfriends, insurance companies and call centres in Mumbai. I genuinely fear for the thin skin of restraint once you add that kind of provocation.

I think this is an issue that our new mayor should take the lead in. "Progress" stops here. If you want to talk, walk.