Wednesday, August 30, 2006
The Tunnel

I thought I'd get away early from work tonight. But instead I ended up here.

Have you ever walked in an underground railway tunnel?

Sorry about the pic - my mobile phone doesn't have a flash, you see.

The surprising thing, for me, was how populated it seemed. There was space to move around away from the tracks. There were doors and cubby holes every few paces.

There was other evidence, of the obscenely inane "Missy sucks your muthas cock" variety. Who goes into a railway tunnel to write this stuff - and who do they think will read it?

And who is Missy?

There was almost no smell, which seemed odd. And when, at the other end, we reached the platform, there was a very serviceable set of ancient looking cast iron steps that we apparently were forbidden, in favour of a very rickety aluminium ladder that three City Rail employees were excitedly gesturing us towards.

But I think I've missed a bit in the story, haven't I?

I spent most of the day at a conference. This was excitement number one as in my job, plus the whole family thing, I almost always always have to say no to any kind of professional development activities. Excitement number two was the subject matter of the conference (don't die of nerddom here) "Blogs, Wikis and RSS".

I have decided that early adoption of technology is the best answer the 21st century has to staying young forever. So, yes, I know what Wikis (and Twikis!) and RSS and many other geeky words mean. Can't spare the time to conquer enough html to add Lazy Cow's book cover list to my template - nooooooo! - but I know enough about the theory of Wikis to look sensible when suggesting we try using one to continually update our strategic and operational plans.

This is not only how you look young. This is how you look smart. But enough of Organisational Comms 101, and back to my Wednesday.

So there was this conference, and it was fun in a geeky, worky kind of way. And along the way my work's Information Services Manager, who paid for me to go, proposed I should have an intranet blog to discuss media issues affecting our organisation.

And I said yes.



How cool will it be to be an OFFICIAL blogger as well as a mostly anonymous, foul-mouthed, slanderous, drinking games, gardening, knitting, cooking blogger?

We start on Friday. I'll tell you more then (with RSM #5, and my garden update, oh and - finally - Suse's Red Tweed knitting sample!!).

I digress.

I was in a tunnel.

But before that, in the final session of the conference, rather pompously titled "Citizen Journalism" (ROOOOOOSEBUUUUUUD), the presentation included those spooky, mobile phone posted pictures of the London Underground after the bombing last year.


So these pics were already in my mind. And I got on the train - refusing a cab ride to the city and changing my journey's direction twice because of shifting arrangements with picking up kids(do you see how many times fate sent me this way?) - and we went two stations underground, and stopped.

Somewhere, in the dark, below Sydney and between Town Hall and Central.

There were a number of incomprehensible announcements over the carriage speakers. The first one everyone ignored. The second one caused some mumblings from stranger to stranger as we started to get irritated about the delay. The third one caused a gentleman behind me to slam his newspaper against the seat and start claiming the guard's voice was deliberately getting softer: "They don't WANT us to know what's happening, that's it!" he said. Some passengers agreed. Me, I tried to block out the London bombing photos and concentrated on my knitting.

The fourth mumbled announcement did, however, clearly include the words "police operation" and "delayed longer than we thought" and "may be some time" and "sorry".

The gentleman behind me wasn't wearing it.

"They say nothing!" he ranted. "It's on purpose!" The lady on the other side of the aisle agreed with him. Others, like me, had heard enough to know something more serious was going on.

Mobile phone reception was sporadic, but I persevered until I got at least text messages through to the Prof and the kids to let them know I would be late to the station.

Thinking of the London photos, I made sure I told them I loved them.

I requested a news alert via my mobile. The top story was about 12 young Iraqis being blown up outside an army recruitment office. I sent my love again to the kids and said I'd be there soon.

I don't scare easy.

But this?

This was starting to freak me out just a tiny bit.

Instead I made sure I dec 1 at the last two stitches then did three rows even, ending on a WS row.

The carriage lights switched to emergency and the air conditioning was turned off.

Police were walking along the tracks on the outside of the carriages.

I repeated the last four rows until the work measured 12 cm from the start of the neck edge. I did two more rows even then inc1 in the last 2 stitches.

A man in an orange jacket walked through our carriage.

He told us to get up and walk to the front of the train. We'd have to walk to the station, it was only about 200 metres away. There'd be people all along the way to show us where to go.

He was right about that.

So I have no reason to doubt

that he was also right

when he told us

we'd killed somebody

who was now under the train

presumably in pieces

and this was why we had stopped.

Is it wrong to have been glad it was only one person who had died?

Because I was, for a bit.

Then, as I trekked on home, changing lines to avoid the crowds from our deserted train, I started to feel more and more as if I needed to throw up.

My head threatened to split in two and spew boiling brains over fellow travellers and when I finally found myself looking across a road at the car full of family that was faithfully waiting to collect me from a strange station, instead of feeling grateful

But I climbed in and I smiled and played "find a green car" and talked about the lovely dinner daddy was about to make and somehow managed until after they were all settled at home. At which time I ran an enormous bubbly bath and disappeared into it for half an hour.

The Prof did indeed make a lovely dinner.

Nobody else died.

I stopped feeling the squish of flesh and bone under my feet.

I checked this blog and found a completely new reader and RSM virgin (Hi Nutmeg, you made my night) and saw that My Float was finally back online after her Cairns junket.

I watched Spicks and Specks and pondered how to frame an entire party around S&S games.

I blogged.

I stupidly watched Finding Neverland on paytv and wept for the four motherless boys and the mother who left them.

I checked my sleeping children again.

And here we are. Safe, home, all in one piece.

Take care, all.



Blogger MsCellania said...

Holy SmokeyS!
I was just wishing you posted every day. Then I read your post. I do NOT wish to you post such things every day. It's a heavy pit in my tummy. I'm hoping it disappears.

We are so so lucky to live in safe places, that are normally delightful and easy to be in, and not scary and dire like the rest of the world. Me? I'm saying a prayer of gratitude this very minute, that we live in a very lovely, very safe area of the world. Where only very occasionally, something horrible happens to people.

Yes, Take Good Care, Everyone. Hug your spouses, babies and friends today.

thanks Vickee. We are all lucky - and the parrots in my backyard this bright sunny Sydney morning are another reminder of that!

Blogger thordora said...

Finding Neverland gets me everytime.

Reading this reminded me why I'm glad we DON'T live in Toronto anymore. No subways where I am now.

Blogger My float said...

Here I was raving about imagined fears and here you were dealing with very real ones. I love your writing. It's 8.30 in the morning and I'm crying. But please continue.

Blogger nutmeg said...

Another reminder that things can change in an instant. Your story gripped me from the beginning...until I remembered this wasn't just a really happened to you! Taking one's own life - a concept I find hard to fathom - maybe they don't understand it at all either? Hope today is a little less eventful for you! (Thanks for your warm welcome.)

thanks guys - delighted you made it to the end! it's very loooong, I know, but even so I left out some bits I didn't think were needed, like the gruesome guy behind me on the long shuffle out of the train who was desperate to discuss what the body might look like...

Blogger Surfing Free said...

Yuck! It's bad enough that the train stops but the poor squashed person is too much. A friend of mine at Uni killed herself by jumping in front of a train about 500 metres from where I lived. She came to see me, talked, drank tea, ate biscuits, then left to catch the train and decided to jump in front of it instead. Awful... so your post gave me the creeps.

Oh you poor thing SF. I think part of what freaked me out at the end was the whole anonymity of it. That, assuming this person deliberately went under the train, maybe they were hoping for a more personal impact than they achieved? It seemed wrong not to know their name.

I hasten to add - having pushed 'publish' too soon that while it seemed wrong NOT to know this person's name, it would of coruse have been MUCH worse if it was someone I knew and cared for.

Blogger blackbird said...

So glad you are okay...
what a terrible thing.
Hug those around you and have a stiff drink.

Blogger blackbird said...

Have you noticed that I can travel all over the internet suggesting that people have a cocktail?

It's my calling.

Blogger tonypark said...

What is it with liz and Tooheys New?

My brother is the only person I know who actually pays money to dring that stuff.

It's good that you drink VB.

Oh, and by the way, I still think you should spend the time you spend blogging writing a book.

Blogger Badger said...

Holy crap!

I loved the way you told this story, though. It was like a little mystery, but with a tragic ending. Except that YOU'RE okay, whew!

And Blackbird never suggests that I have a cocktail, but that's probably because she knows that by the time she gets to me, I've already had one.

Blogger Suse said...

Phew. Hold 'em close for a while. I think I'm holding you close too, in a sort of virtual, pretend, cybery, bloggy kinda way.

I also like that you finished your knitting on a ws row in the face of adversity.

(Sorry, flippant comment in horrible times. Kneejerk reaction.)

Blackbird - what a splendid idea. I was originally thinking martini but then noticed Badger down below and decided to go with a margherita.

Tony - I asked Liz about the New today and she came up with many valid excuses, including the fact that she likes other beers. Personally, I think it's a way for her to get over coming from Canberra.

Badger - dude, pour me that margherita, 'kay?

Hi Suse - no, really, I blogged so it wouldn't bug me any more and it doesn't (although I am MUCH more careful about where I stand on the platform now!)

Anonymous dorothy said...

Just wandered over from the Perfect Post awards. This is amazing. Thank you for writing it.

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