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Timey-wimeyParked by the eastern entrance to Earl’s Court is something that competes for attention from passers-by with a frozen-yoghurt parlour, a branch of Pret a Manger, and a kiosk selling international newspapers.

When I was there, it was losing to all three.

Like the TV series, it’s a relatively contemporary reimagining of a once ubiquitous staple of everyday life that had ended up somewhat irrelevant and unloved.

Unlike the TV series, it’s seen better days, looks somewhat shabby and could do with sprucing up a bit. The dirt has, however, led to some topical graffiti:

Hello sweetie!You can’t use it to call the police. You can’t even go inside. And those that have the power to do so better not think of lighting up.

Sterner on the outsideIt’s probably sterner on the outside than the inside.

A thoughtfully-embossed brass panel fixed to the box explains who, where and when:

SpoilersI’m used to being eyed suspiciously while taking photographs outside an Underground station. On this occasion, though, not only did I fail to be eyed at all, I also got the sense of being actively ignored, even shunned. It was as if the twin bodies of the London Underground and Doctor Who had suddenly aligned in such a fashion as to send anybody in close orbit scurrying for less obsessional climes:

The anoraks have landedEarl’s Court station: change here for the District, Circle, Piccadilly and Gallifrey lines.

Good news for people wanting to travel ONE STOP ONLYThey’re technologically basic, they’re covered in bird droppings and the font is not as nice-looking as it used to be. But I can’t deny a part of me finds the train destination indicators at Earl’s Court persistently charming.

Choice!They undoubtedly generate and receive an equal amount of ire from the clusters of passengers that gather in disconsolate bunches at their base.

It’s essentially a love-hate relationship. There is the thrill, within seconds of your arrival, at seeing the illuminated arrow pop up next to your desired destination. But there is also the anguish of watching each station except your own flash before your eyes in a seemingly-endless sequence of vindictiveness – especially if you’re waiting for one of the less-serviced options, such as High Street Kensington or Olympia:

Gasp! An Olympia train!Sure, they have the appearance of being anachronistic. But it’s not as if they’re incompetent; they do precisely the job for which they are intended. And it’s not as if they’re redundant; the multitude of destinations available from Earl’s Court’s limited number of platforms requires something along these lines. Better to look functional yet understandable than flash yet incomprehensible.

Besides, they are an unequivocal tribute to and reminder of the vastness of the Underground. To Plaistow or to Parsons Green? Mansion House or Ealing Common? The curious and the carefree are spoiled for choice.

Arrowing