(From Nick Abadzis, in London, author of the upcoming :01 title LAIKA, about which we shall say nothing yet!)
Good Places to Draw People No.1
Many things in England are about waiting, putting up with stuff or queuing. British people love to wait in line. Is this stoicism, or a desire to allow valuable minutes of your life peel away; minutes that you'll never get back? This desire to wait - and, more importantly, be granted the opportunity to complain -- is exemplified on the London tube. For the privilege of paying nearly the most expensive rapid transit prices in the world, Londoners are granted a shambolic, gasping system that forever groans and strains at the edge of breaking point; always threatening to tip itself and its passengers completely into the abyss yet somehow always just hauling itself back from the brink.
The system itself is an awesome piece of Victorian engineering and was, I believe, the blueprint for a great many more Underground railways around the world, including those of New York and Paris. Both those cities' systems have their problems too, of course, but at least NYC's is 24-hour (sort of) and Paris' runs later and generally seems more reliable. And neither are as expensive.
But the Tube system, of course, is a great place to observe people, British people, in repose, doing what they do best. Waiting and complaining.