24 hour party people



On the face of it, the tubes running all night from 2015 seemed rather brilliant news. No more night buses! No more two hour crawls through the backwaters of the metropolis with your sleeping head half resting in a box of Chicken Cottage! No more strategically planning your seating with reference to whoever looks least likely to be sick in the aisle!

With regular tubes throughout the night, people’s departure will be staggered and manageable - there’ll be no more desperately contorting oneself into the human Tetris of the Piccadilly line at 12:30am, as though it were the last chopper out of Saigon. We shall all be warm and safe and civilised as we speed home to bed in the safe bowels of the world’s finest metro system.

But then it suddenly dawned on me: without a last tube to catch, I’ll no longer have reasons to leave parties. The dawning of 24 hour travel means the end of excuses.

Up to now it’s always been easy – you can go out and have a nice time, relaxed in the knowledge that as soon as midnight strikes you can trill, “must catch the last tube!” and skip off like Cinderella. No one can argue with the last tube argument; we all know the alternative is sharing the back seat of the N253 with a gently drooling student vet in a penguin onesie.

But from 2015, what will I say when I want to go home?

Obviously it can never be the truth – “It’s been lovely, but I am the wrong side of 25 now and I’ve run out of small talk and there is a cup of rooibos and an electric blanket at home with my name on them” – so I’m worried that instead we’ll be compelled to think up increasingly extravagant cover stories to get us out the door.

I’ve started compiling a bank of them in advance, so I’ll be ready. “I really must go home and mist my orchids,” is a current favourite. Likewise, “I put a wash on earlier and need to hang it out before it gets that mildew smell.”

Perhaps a new code of party conduct will form. “I make a point of never staying after the guacamole's gone brown. Cheery-bye!” “It's been grand, but I think my software updates will be installed by now.”  “I left the slow cooker on 6 hours ago and my beef shin is about to reach peak tenderness.”

"I need to get home to cancel my free month's trial of Amazon Prime."

"I realised this was the wrong house four hours ago but was too polite to say anything."


In which Monday night telly's really going places

(This was written for the good people of Worthing)

Who else is watching The Tube on BBC2?

Not right now, although that would be a mighty coincidence, but on Monday nights with the rest of us*? It's an unlikely contender for communal telly viewing, a ritual usually reserved for big hitters like X-Factor and Question Time, but with its wry look into the world under the underground and ample opportunities to guffaw at the idiocy of other humans, The Tube is almost my new favourite programme.

Of course, I wouldn't have watched it at all were it not for my colossal train geek of a boyfriend, a man for whom riding the length of the Metropolitan Line alone is a dream afternoon's activity. "Look how jolly the staff are!" he says as we watch. "They're so patient and cheerful. What heroes." I don't have the heart to point out that the patient, cheerful, jolly staff are probably the only ones they filmed. But anyway, it’s great.

There are lots of good bits to The Tube - seeing your local station, or even a station you frequent regularly, is exciting (you out-of-towners you just get to shout "Look Bev, Covent Garden - where you had your purse nicked" at 15 minute intervals); Learning mind-fuddling statistics like “every day, 60,000 journeys are made and not paid for”, which you can then recite at the coffee machine and sound knowledgeable; last week’s sequence of commuters who had fallen asleep being woken up at the end of the line and gently herded homewards.



But the best bit of all is seeing seeing fare-dodgers get caught. I, as I’m sure you all do too, love a good bit of comeuppance – especially for petty crimes like not blipping a travelcard. In a way it's our version of America's Cheaters, the show where adulterers are secretly filmed, then pounced on by a camera crew and their raging spouse during an opportune moment. We're as thrilled by an oyster fare evader being stopped and promptly fined as our cousins across the Atlantic are by a trouserless man from Milwaukee screaming "IT'S NOT WHAT YOU THINK SUE-ANNE" while she beats him over the head with a shoe.

But I know what you’re saying - ‘We don’t live in London, thanks Lauren. Can’t we just talk about Teville Gate some more?’ Well I urge you, watch it anyway. Make your kids watch it. For they, like me, might one day rely on this underground world to get around and earn a living. You don’t want them to turn into one of those tourists who gets the tube for all of 30 seconds between Charing Cross and Embankment, do you? As the late Whitney Houston once sang: teach them well, and let them lead the way. Or read the map.

Plus, after a 10-minute montage of weekend revellers vomiting on the Victoria line, Teville Gate will start to look rather homely.


*By ‘the rest of us’ I naturally mean Twitter, but you can replace as appropriate with your chosen medium of contact: telephone; carrier pigeon; shouting over garden fence.