Tuesday, 4 February 2003

Richard Cooper's 2003 Hoban Adventure 2/28

07:54

Fulham Broadway Station

(Hoban passim)


I walked back over Putney Bridge, past a pub called The Eight Bells and a very Dickensian-looking bookshop whose windows were stacked with spines, and back into the station for a train to Fulham Broadway. A poster at the top of the stairs had a picture of a penguin and the words, PENGUINS CAN ONLY “FLY” UNDERWATER. LONDON ZOO BRINGS IT ALIVE FOR YOU. I thought of my plan to go to the Zoo later in the day as part of my trip; it was the only location I really wasn’t sure about, not only because I’d never been there before and it was a fair walk from the nearest Tube station, but because it was way out in North London, miles from almost all the other locations, and would involve a fairly long Tube journey which might eat too far into the rest of my schedule. Still, I thought, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

A train pulled in and I only just managed to squeeze onto it; the Great London Commute was at its full, ugly, snarling peak. Two small boys in school uniform flanked the inside of the door like tiny sentries to a gateway as I swayed, steadying myself from falling only by the fingertips of one precarious (and rather illogical) hand pressed to the ceiling. It never ceases to amaze me that even when a carriage is self-evidently packed to bursting point, people still try to get on when the doors open, and in most cases succeed. I was very glad to be getting off within a couple of stops, and even gladder not to have to do this on a daily basis.

Fulham Broadway station is very much as it is described in Medusa, “like an aircraft hangar ... full of lift”. It’s an open-air station, overground at that point on the District Line, and you could easily imagine a light aircraft flying out from the tunnel and through the large rectangle of daylight at the opposite end. I wanted to get a photo of the whole thing from the elevated walkway to illustrate this, but there was work being done to the station and tarpaulin all over the place, I couldn’t get a clear view.

I headed outside past two girls trying unsuccessfully to hand out leaflets to the hurrying crowds. Ironically, or maybe even selfishly for a yellow-paper dropper, I’m not much of a leaflet-taker myself, at least not now that I’m married; when I was single, I might take a leaflet I wasn’t interested in to try to start a conversation with a female leafleteer, but invariably nothing happened and the leaflet would end up somewhere in my flat as a bittersweet reminder of my romantic aspirations. Today I was both married and working to a schedule, as well as, from experience, fairly sure that the leaflets would be advertising something I probably couldn't make use of, such as a sunbed special offer or £5 off an already-budget flight to Moscow, so I gave them a miss.

Inside the entrance to the station were twin stacks of Metro, the appropriately-named free London morning tabloid, which if you travel at that time of the day it is possible to see entire rows of seated commuters reading simultaneously. This phenomenon is quite disturbing but for a free paper it isn’t bad. I took a copy for myself and slid the second yellow paper quote of the day inside the next copy on the pile:


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