Last Saturday was the day. The Science Museum was the place.
We descended into the London Underground, where we were treated to a wonderful example of social embarrassment in action. As we walked through the Tube station, a voice on the PA was announcing:
“Would the two girls who just jumped over the ticket barriers please return to the ticket area and purchase a ticket like everyone else. Otherwise the picture that was just taken of you will be handed over to London Transport Police who will be waiting for you on the platform.”
A few minutes later, as we descended on the escalators, the voice returned, broadcasting to the entire station:
“Again, would those two girls please return to the gates and purchase a ticket like everyone else. Yes, that’s right: you with the pink top.”
Ah, I thought, the Tube can be such fun. That impression was about to change.
We needed to change to the Circle or District line to get to South Kensington, location of the Science Museum. As it turned out, the Circle line was suspended, along with the relevant portion of the District line. Fortunately, there was an alternate route I could take by just hopping on the Piccadilly line at Green Park.
It seems that a significant portion of London’s population had the same idea. The station was so crowded, it was scary. Masses and masses of people were shuffling slowly down corridors towards the still-distant platform while staff announced instructions:
“Keep to the right. If you don’t keep to the right, the order will be given to evacuate this station and you won’t be going anywhere.”
By the time we got to the platform, there were already hundreds of people lined up. We were lucky to be able to squeeze onto the train. You can just imagine how cramped it was inside the carriage.
At this stage, we were well behind schedule. I wanted to check exactly how late I was but, within the confines of the train, there was no way for me to bring my wristwatch into view.
I was extremely happy when we finally emerged back into daylight.
Despite the late start, the day at the Science Museum was thoroughly enjoyable. It was especially fun hanging out with the kids that John, Stuart, Jon and Leigh, and Rachel and Drew had brought along. Having the kids around was an excuse to get excited about all the gadgets without looking look quite so pathetic.
When it came time to leave, we discounted the Tube as a means of transportation. Instead, we walked from the museum to Victoria station. It was good exercise and infinitely preferable to being squashed back in a sardine can. Technically, my train ticket to and from Brighton was only valid for London Bridge (and other Thameslink stations) but (word to the wise), it worked fine from Victoria.
We were whisked back from the bright lights of London back to Brighton, which seemed like a sleepy seaside village in comparison to a Saturday in the big smoke.