I have never been to Mill Hill East. I did once meet a guy at a party who lived there and I’m sorry to say that I badgered him mercilessly for details of life in this strange appendix to the Northern Line. You see, I am a child of the High Barnet branch (Highgate, as it happens) and Mill Hill East to me was an exotic place seen only on the destination boards, and then only rarely, a mythical place up there with Morden (here be dragons) and that trap for the unwary that was Edgeware (edge of nowhere …). So I was surprised to get to Kennington today and see that all the trains were going to Mill Hill East – surely some mistake?
In fact, it was. The train that came in was going to Edgeware, the culprit was yet another malfunctioning computerised system (is it something in the water?) as the driver wearily announced. So when I got to the platform at Goodge Street on my way home and saw that the next train was not in service, and the next actual usable train wasn’t for ages, I hoped it was the same problem again. Sadly not. The next train was, indeed, not in service and rattled through the station darkened and empty with barely a pause as it passed us.
Except it wasn’t quite empty. There in the middle carriage, fast asleep, was a bald-headed man being carried south in solitary splendour. Some poor lost commuter, still sleeping off the excesses of Friday night? A weary underground worker hitching a lift? Or the mysterious potentate of Mill Hill East, in his very own royal train, off to make a state visit to his counterpart in Mornington Crescent?*
* yes, yes, all right, it was going the wrong way. It’s the weekend, cut me a little slack here