Ways to survive the Underground, or, The Tube Hunger Games.


It’s Tube Hunger Games season again. Not that it ever stops being, but with the tourists (the enemy) flooding in thick and fast, and the prospects of schools soon breaking up for summer and that means mummy just HAS to take darling Rufus to the Natural History Museum, it’s an extra special time of year for all of us. As I prepare myself to brave the season once again, I begin to wonder why I keep staying, volunteering myself to an inevitable season of heartache as once again the enemy’s army tramples my feet, dawdles at the bottom of escalators and NEVER LET ME GET OFF FIRST…  Of course, the week of sun that inevitably pops up in May (NB. last weekend), disappears for two months and reappears for a fleeting two weeks, goes someway to explain why it is that I stay. (So do the deep fried Oreos at When Mac Met Cheese.) When London is basked in sunlight I often forget the high rent prices, the en vogue food trucks where I have to queue an hour to get a table and of course, the overpriced, overcrowded tube.

But back to the matter in hand… To survive the season you have to be serious about the Games. You have to be prepared. This isn’t child’s play, people, this is the London Underground:


  • The first rule of the Tube Hunger Games is that we don’t talk about the Tube Hunger Games. That’s a lie. The first rule of the Tube Hunger games is that YOU STAND ON THE RIGHT OF THE ESCALATOR AND EVERYWHERE. SERIOUSLY HOW ARE WE STILL DOING THIS WRONG. The second rule of the Tube Hunger Games is that you don’t talk about… No, again. The second rule is letting people off the carriage before you get on. Simple and yet so many perish at the first hurdle. If you make it pass this point, there’s a chance we can join forces to create a team. Sometimes it’s better to take on the enemy in numbers.
  • In the height of the season sometimes it’s wise to stop washing. Personal hygiene is a desired quality on the underground. The less you have, the more likely people will keep their distance. And a healthy distance from fellow competitors is one of the few ways to ensure victory.
  • Take no prisoners. There are no rules now the season is upon us. If someone pushes past you without a nod of solidarity, consider them the enemy… trip them, push them and call them names, anything goes.
  • Comfortable shoes. Don’t bother boarding this mission unless you’re in sensible shoes. Ain’t nobody got times for those in heels. If a member of your team gets caught on the escalator, leave them behind. It’s their fate to be eaten up by the end of the escalator. (I’ve heard the rumours but never seen a real life escalator gobbling up a tribute).
  • My personal favourite thing to do during Tube Hunger Games is to Google odd things on my phone. Since people are so insistent on reading over other people’s shoulders (myself being a main offender) give them something to read. Perhaps you will bond over searches on mating rituals of tribes in the deep Amazon jungle, who would win in a battle; a shark or a bear, or even whether Jesuits can marry. But we need to let the enemy know we mean business.
  • Armour. What to wear on the tube is a question that many philosophers have spent many hours mulling over since the start of the Tube Hunger Games all those years ago. But like the meaning of life, there are many theories but few real answers. Too scantily clad and you keep cool but risk prying hands over your hot bod (running up escalators is the best work out a girl can do… apart from actual exercise of course). Too covered up and well, you won’t have to stop washing because you’ll run up quite the sweat – I know too well having had my nose in several sweaty business man’s armpits in my time.

So flats on your feet, three day stench and your game face on, let’s go. See you on the other side fellow commuters.







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