Strapped for Cash

I was in town for a meeting today so I got to travel on the tube like a real commuter. It was a District line train, one of the old ones, and as I’d forgotten to buy a newspaper on the way in I spent some of the journey idly watching the little blob things on springs (I believe that is the technical term) that people can hang on to when they’re standing. And it suddenly struck me that the new tube trains don’t have them, they just have those colour-coordinated pole-dancing poles and bars along the aisles for the tall people to hold on to. I assume at some point in the past, when pea-soupers regularly engulfed London and Routemasters roamed the earth, there were tube trains with actual straps, as in ‘strap hanging’, but as far back as I can remember tubes have always had blobs on springs and I feel a little aggrieved that they have started to disappear without anyone (= me) noticing.

The thing about the spring-blob-things (somebody help me out here, there must be a name for them) is that when the train lurches forward or jolts, it’s the spring that absorbs the momentum instead of, say, the passenger’s shoulder joint. But on the other hand, they are strictly one person handles and they are spaced out in a way that suggests a more generous age, when a rush hour train meant five or six gents standing chivalrously in the aisles while the ladies took their weight off their feet and did a little knitting on the way home, instead of the extended game of sardines we all have to play now. So the blobs must go the way of straps and we shall have to hold ourselves up by means of jamming ourselves into the gaps between people and hope that in the event of a sudden stop, we don’t all fall over like dominoes and end up in a tangled heap at the end of the carriage.

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15 responses to “Strapped for Cash

  1. i think ‘things on springs’ is the technical term. but being short i could never reach them…or the new bars for tall people. plus i was always scared my fingers would get caught in the spring as it bounced up and down

  2. but surely the bars are even higher than the blobs/springs? So there must be even more people who can’t reach than there were before …

  3. only tall people. so us short people have to wedge ourselves in peoples armpits to stay standing

  4. mmmm, lovely

  5. Sorry I can’t help with a name for your spring-blob-things. What I do remember, just, is occasionally travelling on some really ancient tube rolling stock and they had the leather strap hangers you mention.

  6. I’m sure there is a name for them… I mean if you were in the tube building trade you wouldn’t be able to put in an order for 20,000 spring-blobs with a straight face. Perhaps that’s why they switched to bars?

  7. As you say there must be.As to the bars they were probably cheaper.

  8. Well, I always found that when I actually managed to dangle myself from them, in the event of a sudden stop, the spring indeed caught the impact but I still sure as hell flew around the carriage… as support, they don’t give you much!
    Give me poles anytime… or indeed, wedged inbetween!
    Or, as I had this week, standing diagonally with my body leaning over more than the tower of Pisa, frantically trying to hold on to a lowish pole to prevent myself going face first, when a smart bloke in suit squeezes on and asks “Can you not hold on somewhere else?” as it prevented him getting comfortable… I think the look of utter aghast and disgust of both me and some people who saw how I “stood” scared him off…

  9. Well, I always found that when I actually managed to dangle myself from them, in the event of a sudden stop, the spring indeed caught the impact but I still sure as hell flew around the carriage… as support, they don’t give you much!
    Give me poles anytime… or indeed, wedged inbetween!
    Or, as I had this week, standing diagonally with my body leaning over more than the tower of Pisa, frantically trying to hold on to a lowish pole to prevent myself going face first, when a smart bloke in suit squeezes on and asks “Can you not hold on somewhere else?” as it prevented him getting comfortable… I think the look of utter aghast and disgust of both me and some people who saw how I “stood” scared him off…

  10. Carina, maybe you should have grabbed his leg and held on that way? That tends to create a space between you and the other commuters. And I quite like the spring-loaded effect, it allows you to get a head start on diving out the train when the doors open.
    FlightBuff, I expect you’re right about the cost, I wonder how much leather straps would cost now?

  11. Way too much. Please call me Flighty, as everyone else does.

  12. Hmm, yes, maybe next time I’ll do that, see how he likes it… but seriously, why are some people SO ignorant about things like that? Do they think I stand like that for fun? Or is it a faulty gene which kicks in just on the Underground?
    I mean, we all know it’s busy and we all squash which is fine, it has to be done, but some people take it to the extreme and I can’t stand it!

  13. Carina – or you could try not holding onto anything and sway into him every time the train moves. I don’t know why people get like that on trains either. Perhaps their brains melt?
    Flighty – I’ll try to remember!

  14. Pole-hoggers, that’s what the fiance and I call those bloody annoying b******s who LEAN on the pole, preventing anyone from holding on. I find the following works wonders :
    Wait until the train shunts a bit, causing the body to lose contact with the pole for a second. Grab on with your hand tightly, making sure you’re gripping so hard that your knuckles are nice and pointy. When the pole-hogger leans back they will either get the message and stop their nonsense, or you can yelp really loudly, and ask them not to lean on your hand. Have never had anyone continue with the hogging.

  15. hee hee, that is evil. I like it. And if your fiance hasn’t already obliged and bought you a big knobbly ring then he should & it will work even better …

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