Time is of the essence. We are all busy, rushing to the four corners of the earth and beyond, and cannot possibly respond to your call, let alone email, text, Twitter, blog, invoice, but may be able to fit in a request for lunch providing the request is passed through the right channels up to ten days in advance.
We are far to busy to register for internet sites that will help us do our job as in the time I’ve thought of a password, I could write another sentence and words, and time, are money. Get the person on the other end of the internet to do it. Actually, I’m far too busy for that. Give it to my assistant to pass onto the other-end-of-internet receiver’s assistant and if their assistant (part-time, three days a week) acquiesces then we’ll get somewhere.
But busy doing what? Ah, therein lies the question. For people will run, sprint and accelerate down the street, answering calls on their Bluetooth and emailing on their BlackBerrys. Is there more work? Less work, but work with an immediate deadline? And, amidst all of this, what could possibly be so important that you have to bound down the stairs, umbrella-cum-decapitation machine flailing, to catch a tube train precisely one minute and thirty seconds before the next one arrives?
Modern day flight-or-fight is one theorem. Whatever horrors exist lurking in the background at Tottenham Court Road, and a giant Freddie Mercury is the least of those, the justification is there for elbowing pregnant women on the spine. Wherever that train is going to, it’s a good deal better than the one ninety seconds down the tracks: a better class of drunkard.
This is one of the periodical bafflements with the otherwise enjoyable aspects of London life. If you are late, you can still be later but does not alter the fact you are late. If you are early, then you may revert to being on time. If you are one time, you can enter, roll your eyes, gesture to whatever god, gods, or supreme being (if any) takes you fancy and exclaim: “The District Line!” They will understand.
But running? For a tube? The act is very London. It is the capital in a nutshell. But it does not make sense. Perhaps it is not meant to. Perhaps the spirit of Dali lives on above, manipulating humanity as his playthings. Perhaps Earth is one giant Tate Modern, and somewhere one supreme being turns to another and says: “It’s good, but what is it all about? Is this, Athena, actually art?”
Or perhaps there’s just a large proportion of our population who are constantly late. Or enjoy exercise. Or both. Or neither.
Whatever the reason, it doesn’t excuse running full pelt round a corner into a stationary commuter, happily-minding his own business, nearly knocking them off the platform, then blame the hitherto static commuter for the collision. There will be a another train in approximately ninety seconds, assuming you’re not too busy to board it.