To bring to an end this series about the creatures (and plants, as you will be able to read below) that populate the London Underground, we’ll focus on the actual train today. If you want to read about the specimens that populate the escalators click here, or alternatively you can read about the ones that roam around on the platforms here.
(affects David Attenborough’s voice)
The Tube is a fascinating micro-representation of Darwin’s landmark scientific work ‘The Origin of the Species’. Once the train doors close (and provided there’s no Delphinidae vīvāx around to stop them from doing so), the struggle for survival ensues.
Taking centre stage — literally — we have the first specimen: the Gorgo Lavatera Hūmānus. As the name indicates this is a flowering plant. But do not be fooled by its appearance. Passengers that dare to cross a GLH, are turned to stone and will miss their stop. (squats) Watch! (whispers) These are the roots of the human lavatera. They are so strong that when trains are taken to the depot at the end of their journey, extra staff are usually called to deal with these underground organs. What does the Gorgo Lavatera Hūmānus do? It boards the train and regardless of the amount of people in it, it heads for the pole in the middle of the carriage and grabs hold of it. There it grows roots whilst in the opposite direction it spits out a mix of annual, biennial and perennial herbaceous plants and soft-wooded shrubs. The beauty of its flowers hardly compensates for the discomfort it causes, especially during peak-hours. Whenever a passenger tries to get on or off the train, he or she has to negotiate their way around the Gorgo Lavatera Hūmānus, who in turn, remains defiant on the face of the discomfort inflicted on its fellow travellers.
The second species today (rising up) is the Gryllidae Urbanus, otherwise known as the ‘Tube DJ’. This is a creature whose countenance has mutated over the years. In the 80s they were commonly seen holding a big stereo with large antennae sitting on their shoulders, spreading loud music partout. Nowadays they’re the proud owners of smartphones, iPhones and whatever technological gadget they can lay their hands on. These they use to broadcast the music they like to a trainful of people who might be of a different melodic bent. Any attempt to reason with a Tube DJ is futile as they have lost the ability to speak coherently and can only express themselves with chirping sounds. The existence of ears in these animals have proved to be a debatable issue for many scientists. I would like to throw my hat in the ring now and declare that I once saw a Gryllidae Urbanus’s ears burst into flames on the Victoria Line when a (very loud) session including Motörhead, Metallica and Slayer became unbearable not only for the DJ, but also for the passengers around him. Unfortunately the human music box could not press ‘stop’ on time and his head (including his ears) became a mushroom of flames. It should be noted that sympathy was in short supply at the scene of the accident as the majority of the commuters gave a sigh of relief when the DJ was being devoured by the fire.
(looking at the camera) This is a magic moment. The camera you see now will disappear before your eyes. And it will all be done by mirrors. This field device is being tested on the Ursidae Statikós. The results look promising. The ‘Underground Bear’ (another name for this creature) only gets on the train when he or she (usually a ‘he’) thinks the coast is clear. But what’s clear to you, it’s crowded to the rest of us. It just takes a small gap in the train to trigger off a bout of optimism in the Ursidae Statikós and he will charge towards that space no matter what. Stocky legs, a long snout, shaggy hair, you might think I’m describing Jeremy Clarkson, but no, that’s what this underground species looks like. Coupled with their bulkiness and robustness, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that many passengers have felt suffocated when they find themselves between an Underground Bear and the train doors. However, these creatures are harmless. Their danger only comes from not realising their own physical power. For instance, as soon as a train arrives at the platform, the Ursidae Statikós will stand aside to let people off the carriage and allow others to get on. But no sooner has he spotted a space that he thinks will accommodate his large size, than he will make off for it regardless of the consequences. Which, come to think of it, are serious. Overturned buggies (with crying children in arms), creased clothes, trod-upon shoes, it’s all there. But the Underground Bear will remain unaware. He’ll just give his Yogi smile and will continue his journey blissfully ignorant of the chaos around him.
(in the studio, doing the voice-over) These are but three species of the many members we find in both the flora and fauna in the London Underground. Unfortunately we don’t have time to cover them all: for instance, the Mustelidae Pervertere who has the undesirable habit of getting too close to the female anatomy (especially from behind) in full carriages. By contrast the Canis Familiaris Polītus is the epitome of courtesy and decency. Here’s a creature who will give up his or her seat for an elderly person or a pregnant woman. Yet more evidence of the fascinating micro-cosmos we find in the London Underground.