Numbers 101-125

Shedding followersJust north of Queen’s Park station on the Bakerloo line, you experience something I’m pretty sure you can’t do anywhere else on the Underground.

You get to pass through a carriage shed.

That might not sound particularly tremulous, and I grant you it’s not on a par with the kind of sensory overload you endure on a ghost train or enjoy on a seaside tram. But it shares the same novelty value. And if you’re in the mood, there’s a tingle of excitement to be had from peeping inside somewhere it feels you’re not meant to go.

She said, there's something in the train shedIf you’re heading north, you trundle through entrance 21, past a very old (but still perfectly legible) 10 MILES AN HOUR warning sign. Once you’re inside, look out of the right-hand windows and you’ll probably see a couple of trains sitting in berths 22 and 23, not really doing much. You’ll possibly spend a minute or so doing the same, before your train is given a green signal to carry on up the line to Kensal Green: nemesis of all connoisseurs of The London Game.

If you’re heading south you’ll probably come through number 24. Whichever track you end up on, however, the effect is the same: a moment of anxiety as you conclude you’re sitting in a train that’s been sent to the sidings, followed by a longer moment of embarrassment when you realise your mistake.

Two little ducksWhen you pass through the shed, I wonder under whose jurisdiction you fall. I can imagine there are issues over “conveyance”, with unions and management holding urgent negotiations to agree terms of safe passage. I hope there are “lucky” entrances, and that superstitions have built up around particular numbers. In bingo lingo, would you prefer two little ducks or a knock on the door?

For shed followers, you probably can’t beat arguing about something like this. For shedding followers, you certainly can’t beat writing about something like this.

A case of cup-olaThere are a, ahem, coupla’ reasons to visit Clapham Common station.

The first is the single island platform, identical to the one at Clapham North, both of which are the only such layouts still in existence on deep-level Underground lines.

The second is above ground. It’s the intriguingly (some might say dangerously) exotic confection that sits over the main entrance:

Cosmopolitan twitchingsIt’s rare to find the Underground flirting with anything so continental. It’s even rarer to find it getting away with it. Perhaps it’s the logo that’s key. Its reassuring typeface and dash of provincial antiquity  offsets any passing architectural indulgence.

But don’t worry. On encountering the cupola, if you’re prone to suffer from cosmopolitan stirrings, you can always nip on to the nearby common to relieve any tautness.

My cup runneth 'olaThis is the only decent bit of Clapham Common station to break ground. There’s a small, rather lumpen pavilion on the other side of the road that contains another way down to the ticket hall, but it can’t compete with this fey treat.

There’s a faint whiff of Catholic chintz about it. If the pope were to endorse this kind of architecture, his popularity might get another unlikely boost. But given its devoutly secular antecedents, I’m not so sure. Could Francis ‘ford this cupola? I suspect his fellow cardinals would prefer apocalypse – now.

Yet even if this very-late Victorian fancy (c. 1900) doesn’t tickle yours, there’s something hanging inside to twitch even the devoutest of souls:

Arrow right through meCupola? I barely knew her!

No, you're not going to get any arse jokes hereI don’t know much about football, but I know what I like. And that’s a new rule that means goalposts get moved an inch wider apart for every minute of extra time until someone scores. Oh, and teams should be able to bring an additional person on to the pitch, again for each minute of extra time. Basically I’d like to see pitches with ginormo-sized goals and about 50 players. Perhaps this music could be played at the same time.

You think these suggestions would make a mockery of the beautiful game? It’s SURELY no more of a joke than having players [finger-pointing rant alert!] earn more in an hour than I do in a year, or something like that. Sigh.

Anyway, what I really really like about football is there’s an Underground station that shares its name with one of the most famous clubs in the country, and which has a staggeringly beautiful roundel mosaic above its entrance:

Your arse an' allIt’s almost too good to be stuck on the wall of a station in a quiet suburban street along which crowds of people pass at best only once a week.

In fact, it is too good to be stuck here. It deserves to be seen by as many folk as possible, and that’s never going to happen in Highbury, even if the eponymous club became the best in the world on the same day Morrissey decided to move in next door.

The scale of the mosaic would seem perverse and its craftsmanship ostentatious were it not so sense-bubblingly beautiful. It was put up during the glory years of the 1930s (and yes, it’s not often you see that combination of words arranged in that particular sequence). It gains even more points for having replaced yet another of the uber-ubiquitous ox-blood tiled exteriors, of which there are still ox-bloody too many.

If movable goalposts and ever-expanding teams aren’t on the agenda of the next Football Association AGM, can I suggest a works outing to Arsenal station? It’s the closest they’ll get to seeing any true artistry this season.

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