There was a tube strike today, and it had a lot in common with the Zombie Apocalypse – thousands upon thousands of pale, lurching creatures emerged from dark tunnels under the streets, all of them pissed-off and bloodthirsty, and chaos and carnage were unleashed upon the world.
There were so many pedestrians on the pavements that they could barely move. And they kept spilling over onto the road, with predictable results.
And there were twice as many cars on the road, most of them crawling along in long queues, or just backed up for miles, sitting with their engines running and getting all hot and bothered. This is actually quite fun if you like hurtling and twisting and turning and wriggling through gaps barely the width of your handlebars (which luckily I do).
And as if all this wasn’t enough, there was a celebration of the Battle of Britain going on in St Pauls, and at lunchtime about 2,500 war veterans marched very slowly from the cathedral to the Guildhall. All the traffic was stopped by police on motorbikes – and because there was twice as much traffic around as usual …well, I’m sure you can imagine.
And it rained. Briefly, but violently and impressively.
So of course, everyone was ridiculously wound up, and no one was prepared to give each other the tiniest leeway. And people took advantage of the chaos to start breaking all the rules. I’ve never seen so many cars, lorries, vans and motorbikes jumping red lights.
And this proves my theory – that the disaster movie trope of massive stationary tailbacks leading out of major cities is entirely and depressingly accurate. If everyone cooperated, stuck to the rules, stopped at the lights, and gave right of way where it was due, we’d all get out in time. But people aren’t like that – they panic, and once enough people have jumped the lights, the junctions get blocked, and there’s too much traffic in the way to unblock them. So you’re stuck.
And then the zombies get you.