Lovers Take Up Less Space – An Alphabet Guide To The Tube is more than just an amusing look at the London Underground; it is a comprehensive companion to conduct the unfamiliar passenger through every nuance of that most famous of railway systems.
This well-written book offers witty and clever observations of the various types of passenger found using the Tube; in particular the harried worker on his daily commute.
The narrative breaks down into a systematic examination of the idiosyncratic nature of travel via this form of transport, accentuating its merits and offering advice on how to deal with its foibles.
Although not a seasoned Tube traveller, I have used it when visiting London, both at rush hour and off-peak, so the section dealing with anonymity – Other People on the Tube – did resonate with me, and Kind’s observations, highlighting the differences between the London passengers’ determination to completely disregard each other and the embarrassing over-familiarity of people from other areas of the country, were spot on.
In Manchester, where I live, there is always the risk of people striking up a conversation with you at the bus stop, at the supermarket checkout, or even just walking past them on the street, if you’re brave enough to acknowledge their existence. But in London, as she points out, things are very different and I admit that one of the many occasions I laughed out loud whilst reading this book, was with her suggestion to greet your fellow passengers with ‘Good morning/evening’ as you board the carriage, and wait for their response … which will never come. The only thing that may happen is that they then regard you as the village nutter come to town.
But the part of the guide that really tickled me was the chapter relating to Lost Luggage, when the guard is imagined asking the passenger if he can confirm at which station he left his 14-foot long boat, so as not to confuse it with any other boats that may have been left at other stations around London.
My only criticism is that the narrative occasionally loses pace – in part due to the author trying hard to supply the reader with as many amusing details as she can muster. Fortunately, this doesn’t detract from the overall read, as it soon gathers momentum again with the advent of the next chapter.
I would definitely recommend this book to give you a chuckle and brighten your day, even if you have never travelled the Tube or, indeed, have no intention to ever do so.