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Thursday 10th March 2005

So I can never travel on the tube again. Not because I was on the telly six years ago and am in danger of being mobbed by fans every time I go on there (though that is obviously an issue), but because I was standing on the platform at Oxford Circus tonight when I heard this announcement:
"Customers are reminded to keep all their personal belongings with them at all times."
And I thought to myself, that is a logistical impossibility. I mean, I've got a lot of stuff. To have to keep it all with me at all times on the underground is frankly unfeasible. My personal belongings include not only a couple of hundred books, loads of videos and CDs, but several items of furniture including three sofas, a bed and a dining table (with chairs). I have enough clothes to fill several suitcases (at least two more suitcases than I actually have) and a couple of computers and a heavy wide-screen TV from the days before plasma screens, (which almost killed a trained removal man - see here) as well as many other electrical items, plus a fridge-freezer and an oven and many other things besides. These are all personal belongings and to keep them with me at all times on the tube would increase my journey time by possibly up to a million times and create a massive inconvenience for other passengers on what is already an over-crowded underground system. Especially if they all had to carry all their personal belongings with them at all times too. I think I would fill at least one carriage with all my stuff and have to transport it in a complicated series of handcarts that would be murder to get down the escalators at Shepherd's Bush (central line) or up the stairs at Shepherd's Bush (Hammersmith and City).
Realistically I think I would have to employ an entourage of at least ten burly men to help me move this stuff around, which would then create the additional problem that they would also be duty bound by London Underground's ridiculous ruling to also keep all their personal belongings with them at all time. Thus I would probably have to employ an army of tramps to do my carrying, which might sound good in practice (they have no personal belongings and could do with the employment and wages that I would have to pay them), but the problem is that tramps are an unreliable work force, as likely to decide to get drunk or fight or swear at passing women as carry around my belongings. And although I don't like to generalise I am not sure that tramps would be the most trustworthy employees. I think the temptation to swap my video recorder for a can of Tennant's Super might prove too much for some of them and I'm not convinced you could rely on tramps to turn up at a given time to cart around heavy equipment, when in all likelihood they could make more money just by sitting around and begging. Other people without personal possessions are hard to think of, babies would be good if they had more strength and mobility, people from religious orders who have given up all personal belongings might be a better bet, though I'm not sure they would be keen to spend their time lugging around other people's things and wouldn't be interested in any monetary reward. Students could possibly work. When I was a student I could fit all my personal belongings ( four tapes, a walkman, three pairs of pants and one sock) into a ruck sack, which would still leave me able to help someone else push a handcart around, but to be honest with you, I think students would turn out to be less reliable than the tramps.
Even if I could get round this problem, I think the inevitable damage to my belongings and probable theft of individual items would be financially crippling. I also think that if everyone did this the chances of a terrorist attack (which I presume is what the edict is for) would increase as it would be easier to hide a bomb amongst the chaos. Also any terrorist strictly obeying the rule would have to carry any bombs or bomb making equipment that he owned with him at all times and you're not going to tell me that occasionally one of those wouldn't explode by accident. On the positive side, no tube train would have more than four or five people on it, but it is still a ridiculous palaver, that I for one am not going to play any part in.
From now on I am travelling by bus or taxi to avoid the inevitable inconvenience. Tony Blairs is taking things too far this time. He must be stopped.

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