Anyone who has phobias or fears will know the constructs of avoidance and the paradoxical confinements of one’s life that ensues. Mine has been the claustro kind, mixed, as is often the case, with fear of being trapped (cleithrophobia). Hence I’ve avoided the Tube/Metro for much of late adulthood. Recent MRIs nearly proved a challenge too far and I’ll opt for stairs rather than lifts whenever possible.
But suddenly a week or so ago I decided to face some of the demons, and with right-hand man as support, went down into the depths of London’s underground network. Surprisingly there were no moments of anxiety throughout the journeys (though none came to that deadly silent, stop in the tunnels).
I’m feeling thoroughly liberated and it’s just as well since I’m about to take charge of my Older Persons Freedom pass whereby the underworld of train travel will become my oyster…There only remains the up and down voyaging of lifts to conquer.
Postscript: Recommend Peter Ackroyd’s “London Under” (2011) for a fear-titillating gothic history on how London secretly grew below ground.