I was in the city today and whilst walking through Kings Cross underground station it struck me once again how alien yet comforting the subterranean world is.
Its a long walk from the Victoria line to the Piccadilly line, a route that takes you through long, barren tunnels along passageways and up escalators. Like mice in a maze we follow routes determined for us by planners and designers, routes that are subconsciously programmed. Our pace slows and we bear left or right at entrances and exits as if predicting the intention of the mass of humanity that we travel with.
The constraints of decades of growth within confined spaces mean that we funnel through exits, escalators and barriers with a patience and accommodation that is part mob rule and part conditioning.
Like Pavlov’s dogs we follow hidden signals and subtle changes obediently and efficiently to be rewarded by reaching our destination.
I know people who are terrified of the underground network, indeed they find even relatively simple mainline journeys a trial and I wonder how many people get caught in this travelling machine inadvertently? How many people get swept to unintended destinations within this human machine?
What happens to those that tangle with the network in rush hour without the programing or experience to cope? Do hey live in some cavernous ‘lost people’ department? Are they the eventual riders of the necropolis express?* or do they just depart at Pimlico and emerge, bewildered into the light and form new lives in this previously unexplored area of town?
And yet, for all this, I still find the programming that guides me through this maze, comforting and homely
*google it, its an interesting story