Home » London Underground Tube Fails – Sharing space with the general public

London Underground Tube Fails – Sharing space with the general public

A friend of mine (who lives outside of London) was tsk’d at after accidentally grinding against the leg of a stranger on the tube. She then uttered the words to this lady wearing the scrunched up face, “It’s all in the title…public transport!”

Of course she was right and we need to accept that in a big city such as London, others share the same space as us. However, this very brief interlude got me thinking about the utter nastiness that occurs on the London tube with bodily fluids, and people’s inability to cope with manners and simple rules.

I’m talking about people who haven’t worked out that they need an Oyster card until standing in front of the ticket barrier with commuters backing up behind them, tourists who haven’t clicked that everyone is standing to the right, and seat huggers who should buy a ticket for their manky backpack on the seat beside them.

London Underground Fails

Here is a list of the top nuisances which make travelling on London tubes, an utter ball-ache at times.

Like an animal shedding its skin
Ok, so I’m not referring to actual sheets of skin blocking tube doorways, but I’ve watched people sitting on the tube, cutting their finger nails and letting those bad boys fly into the tube abyss. I’ve also seen people filing their nails and cleaning whatever foreign bodies are under them, before discarding them on the carriage floor. People, this is truly vile!

Beware of the Bogeyman!
You know the people I mean, who sit with their finger wedged up their nose, digging around for bogey treasure. They appear to have the realisation they’re in a public space so they pretend not to be massaging a ball of snot between their thumb and forefinger. After leaving what they imagine to be a safe amount of time, they release it to their feet for the next person’s gym bag to sit on. Nice one folks!

The oyster without a pearl
Seriously, how many times do people need to scan their Oyster card before realising they’ve run out of money? No, looking at it again won’t make it magically work. Yes, you are going to have to put your Starbucks coffee down and top up. I guess that 20 quid you loaded up two years ago has finally run out!

Reaching home base
I adore these people who hear the bell warning them that the doors are closing. They make a sudden dash and stop as soon as they’re safely inside forgetting that they share London with millions of other commuters. Nah mate, don’t worry about me behind you, I’m happy to wait for the next tube. I’m just really chuffed that you managed to make it and get yourself a comfy seat.

Can you feel the love
Yes, and not only can I feel it, but I can see it too and it’s making me feel a bit sick. Yes, we know you love each other and judging by the fact that you have your tongues down each other’s throats, you want us to know it as well. If you see me on the tube at the same time as you in the morning, chances are I’ve just had my breakfast, so unless you look amazing with muesli in your hair, it’s probably behaviour best saved for post-midnight on the 24 hour tube, or the avenues of Paris.

Clearly having his own party!

Seats for children
Growing up in New Zealand, I was taught to stand for adults, but somewhere along the line it appears that adults are now expected to stand for small children. Gone are the days when parents were content for kids to sit on their lap, unless of course that means paying for an extra seat on a plane and then they look offended when asked to splash the cash. Is this just a big city London thing?

In order for THIS to work, we all need to follow the rules. Photo credit: The Telegraph

Handbags at dawn
I love these women who have handbags so big, it’s as if they’re karting around a small child which they aren’t personally responsible for, whacking and bumping into people as they go. Seriously what can you possibly need with you to warrant a handbag of such a size? I’ve also seen handbags used as battering rams by women who want to push through the carriage quietly, but don’t want anyone to know they’re doing so. Yes, it’s an old trick, no it’s not a very clever one.

Manners before comfort
All Londoners know what absolute gold a seat is during the rush hour commute. We act as if it isn’t a big deal but as we ease ourselves onto the pre-warmed cushion, in our heads there are fireworks exploding. I will always give up my seat for the old, disabled or pregnant and do so without question (unlike many who use their mobile phones to plead ignorance). But seriously ladies, when you look one day pregnant and have the ‘baby on board’ badge on, it feels more like laziness than someone who needs to take a load off. I’ve had hangovers more deserving of a seat but…I as I said, I always get up (so don’t send me hate mail).

Fancy footwork
Even when I have my foot as far back as it will go, there are commuters who can’t manage the whole brain-to-foot coordination thing. Perhaps if you looked where you were going instead of maintaining absolute tunnel vision to get off the tube, the rest of us would sustain fewer injuries. Don’t worry, we still won’t need to make eye contact!

Sniff or blow
There is nothing like hearing someone sniff wet bogey back up their nose, on a 15 second loop, for the duration of the morning commute to get the blood pumping. Either bring a tissue or rip out the American political section of the Metro newspaper and use that mate!

In search of the holy grail
I love these people who see an empty seat way down the carriage, but have the absolute belief that they can barge their way through before anyone else realises it exists.
A) Its rush hour and you are so obviously never going to make it in time
B) Your handbag is huge so how do you propose to squeeze through
C) You’re neither old, pregnant or disabled so chances are my arse will be in it before yours

Soap passing through water
If you have a winter coat, it will need dry-cleaned at some stage. Soap and water will need to magically combine to produce a cleaning effect. The result being sweet smelling clothes otherwise they start to emanate a certain ‘lived in’ aroma. I’ve literally had to get up and leave a seat because of smelly commuters. Give up my cushy seat for the chance to breathe clean air. Don’t be afraid of the soap commuters!

Eager Beaver
Yes, the next station is Bank and I can see by the fact that you’re practically salivating at the thought of disembarking, that this is your stop. How about you sit back down instead of pushing through the busy carriage, until either the tube stops, or we at least leave the tunnel. After all, you chomping at the bit isn’t going to make those doors fly open any faster!

Bus Etiquette
OK so it’s not the London underground but its one of my bug bears. When I’m on a London bus and there are two seats, common courtesy would suggest that you slide over to the window instead of making me squeeze through and giving you the arse or crotch. Why make me work for it when you could just slide across? Just for badness you better believe I’m going to give you the crotch and take my sweet little time about it. You’re welcome!

There you have it folks. My own personal London tube observations from 18 years commuting in one of my favourite cities in the world. I’d love to hear yours.

Happy commuting folks!



  1. Oli
    March 27, 2017 / 10:37 am

    Great list!

    Another classic London bus fail – waiting 15 mins for your bus when two/three come at once. Then, you get on one and it breaks down as the others sail off into the distance (happened Saturday).

    Another irritant is people cursing me under their breath when I brush them inside a packed out train. I’ve also been tutted at by an old lady after involuntarily escaping a packed out bus and “nearly knocking her over”.

    Where do you stand on people who use a seat on a bus/train for their large bag/suitcase?

    • March 27, 2017 / 11:00 am

      Haha thanks Oli. I always make a beeline for the seat with someones bag on it. It’s disguting as people have to sit on those seats. Sometimes people still have their bag on a seat even though the tube is packed. How could this possibly make sense to someone?!! Thanks for reading and commenting mate

      • March 27, 2017 / 11:27 am

        Well, if you’ve got a very large bag that won’t fit on your lap/by your feet there are few other options. For regular sized bags I would totally agree, particularly when it’s packed out.
        No worries, thanks for posting!

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