Re-Writing the Central Line

I saw this written on the board at the Liverpool Street Central Line on National Poetry Day:

Central Line Poem
“The red line bursts at its seams
with atoms from the city’s caverns
Rushing on to travel through the heart of London
And out at its busy limbs.”


Coincidentally, I wrote about my own journey on the Central Line for my MA Writing the City class. Here is my version:

Today, the central line turns inside out.

Anticipation of a bumpy ride home clings to every traveller as the tubes invert at Oxford Circus. The bleeping doors crash closed but instead of trapping us in, we are expelled into the blue skies, hovering above Tottenham Court Road, waiting to disappoint us with the clouds of tomorrow. The expression of boredom, a face worn by every daily passenger, is replaced by the curiosity of thousands, flying through the air, chased by the crescendo whine of the tube line as it picks up speed towards Holborn. At Chancery Lane, the suits of TM Lewin shoot down below the surface and the shoppers hang on with a confused desperation to the fabric coated seats, wondering where the train has gone. A melodic voice rings over the tannoy.

‘This is your driver speaking. The Central Line rocks this evening with a totally awesome service. We guarantee to fly you to your destination within an inch of your lives. May passengers be informed that we are not being held at a red light and take a dim view of such restrictions imposed by management. Please take your rubbish with you when leaving, as contrary to popular belief, the earth is not a big round green wheelie bin. Next stop, St Paul’s.’

At Bank, people laugh and throw their left-over sandwiches at city folk who stand beside their skyscrapers, wondering why the world has turned flat. Seats fly from the train as we race above Liverpool Street, where people and their bags, children and their sweets are systematically sucked into tubes running like veins through the bowels of the city.

East is east and Bethnal Green smells of talcum powder and old music hall routines, long forgotten beneath the tiles of the station. Mile End, world’s end; view from above with passengers dropping from on high without a care in world to where they might land. A white light shines on the horizon as we rocket on through to Stratford; land of our salvation, so the legacy tells us.

The rush of an air vent behind me distracts my attention from the muted voice on the opposite side of the platform, ‘Duh, duh da. Duh da da dah.’ Doors whoosh open. ‘Ladies and Gentlemen. This is Stratford. Alight for Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and Westfield Shopping Centre. Normal service has now resumed. Stand clear of the doors.’

The roar of the rails rumble beneath my feet.

Posted on October 5, 2013, in Short stories, Words, Writing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I love your piece of writing. It’s so visual, vibrant, and filled with movement. Two things we have in common: speculative fiction and living with a chocolate labrador!


  2. Hi Sarah – thanks for your comment. Long live spec fiction and choccy labs!


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