The Tube Map Is Not The Territory

When I was standing on Homerton High Street in east London the other day a cyclist stopped and asked in an American accent if I could tell him how to get to Bermondsey and then Stratford. I had to explain to this psychogeographer that while Bermondsey might come before Stratford if you are travelling from central London on the Jubilee line, to get to the second location from Hackney he needed to go east and to get to the first he would have to go south. The cyclist decided he wanted to go to Stratford so I directed him east through Hackney Marshes. I should have added that if he checked out the Lee Valley carefully he might find some dogging going on; and this would have proved more fun than attempting to use a tube map to guide himself around Lud’s Town! The way many people rely on the subway to get around London leads to some really wacky misreadings of the city’s actual topography, and the cyclist who asked me for directions had come up with one of the craziest I’ve encountered in my entire life! You couldn’t make it up!
And while you’re at it don’t forget to check – – you know it makes (no) sense!


Comment by Lucy Johnson on 2012-09-23 13:19:21 +0000

Bermondsey is always worth a pit stop-I lived there for ten years-near ‘the Blue’!

Comment by mistertrippy on 2012-09-23 15:32:13 +0000

Between The Shard and White Cube Bermondsey the area has changed beyond recognition to me in the last year or so…. So gentrified so quicly! Shame!

Comment by Guy The Bore on 2012-09-23 16:21:49 +0000

If you think it is confusing using a London underground map as an overground guide to the same city, then you should try using that same subway map to negotiate your way around the Hartz Mountains in Germany!

Comment by Michael Landy on 2012-09-23 17:46:19 +0000

The London tube map is not so much a diagram as an abstraction…. and just possibly the greatest work of modernist art in the whole of human history…. Just ask that silly plagiarist Simon Patterson!

Comment by Neville Punter on 2012-09-23 19:06:45 +0000

Reminded me of that story about two guys on a tandem cycle and the one at the back dies and the one at the front doesn’t realise the one behind has died so carries on cycling… Was it by Alfred Jarry?

Comment by The Man in the Iron Mask on 2012-09-23 21:11:17 +0000

Jarry likened the Crucifixion to an uphill bicycle race which by my computation would involve not two but three guys (or one god and two thieves depending on your belief-system) … Has anybody seen the modernist art map book by Will Gompertz the BBC Arts Correspondent? It’s cretinous fluff as you’d expect from a shiny dome-head with side-tufts, ie Coco the Clown without the make-up. And wasn’t he at the Tate before the BBC? He ran courses there in ‘community juggling’ – or was that Martin Creed? By the way, Creed once appeared on the BBC Late Review terrified to express and opinion – in case it derailed his career – and wearing a mucky of old map of the Faroes which he’d converted into a sweater…

Comment by Edmond Jabes on 2012-09-23 21:54:34 +0000

Too right! Before you can get ahead in the culture industry you have to bland out and have no opinions of your own. Personal and critical judgements are way to dangerous to an industry built on a combination of ego-massage and hype.

Comment by Lucy Johnson on 2012-09-24 06:40:26 +0000


Comment by They Call Me Mister Saatchi on 2012-09-24 11:48:02 +0000

If someone has an opinion on anything worth having view on then they clearly aren’t cut out to be a succesful contemporary artist. Work, consume, sleep, work, consume sleep, work, consume sleep….. The rest is just fluff and hot air!

Comment by The Man in the Iron Mask on 2012-09-24 16:43:18 +0000

Mr S – thanks for your recipe for the death of the imagination. As you kill the spirit so your lustrous-lipped wife Nigella kills the body with her high-fat faux-Italian recipes.

Comment by Lucy Johnson on 2012-09-24 18:39:02 +0000

There are probably less enjoyable ways to go…

Comment by Billy Shelf on 2012-09-24 21:06:39 +0000

I like to travel from Kings Cross to Baker Street on the circle line via Embankment, in other words by chosing the long route round rather than a couple of station hops. It is not only epic, it is tubeonautic pyschogerography!

Comment by Iona St.Clare on 2012-09-25 00:23:14 +0000

I prefer to walk from Kings Cross to Baker Street – it is way quicker than going the wrong way on the circle line and it is also cheaper….

Comment by Geoff Andrews on 2012-09-25 14:59:34 +0000

Landscape is false it is built on stilts. The Lee Valley is a man made construction and to discover what’s really going on you need to get to the underchalk!

Comment by Peter Marshall on 2012-09-26 00:19:05 +0000

Is there a word to describe the fetish of enjoying sex on the London Underground? And is there one for anywhere on the underground including the stations and a more specific one for liking sex on tube trains? And does anyone out there want to help me join the 100 meters below club?

Comment by The Man in the Iron Mask on 2012-09-26 14:00:26 +0000

Don’t be so coy, Peter. I saw you out subbing last night. I got into subbing by default, after the closure of a lot of the ‘dive’ public toilets in London, but I am glad that I did. The Bakerloo north of Paddington attracts the most subbers – which is why Duffy sang in code about Warwick Avenue: it’s where the fun starts. Alan Turing the code-breaker lived very close to Warwick Ave (see the Blue Plaque), and the fact that he couldn’t be open about his love of subbing led in part to his suicide. ‘It’s better to compute’. It’s even better to sub.

Comment by Mari Elliott on 2012-09-26 14:55:50 +0000

Let’s submerge! I’m going down on the underground!

Comment by The Man in the Iron Mask on 2012-09-26 16:08:06 +0000

See you this eve at Edgeware Rd on the Bakerloo and then we’ll head north. I look like my name so you will easily recognise me. Please make yourself known and of course wear a burqa to facilitate subbing.

Comment by Peter Marshalll on 2012-09-27 13:51:52 +0000

Well that was a fun night…. but was it you or some stranger I met. They weren’t wearing an iron mask and they didn’t seem to have come across this blog……

Comment by Lucy Johnson on 2012-09-27 17:16:37 +0000

I always like to hear of more injustices perpetuated by the establishment towards Alan Turing just to rile me even more and keep up the outrage levels-and this combined with a bit of subterranean sexology is a winning combo. You have made my day!!

Comment by mistertrippy on 2012-09-28 20:17:12 +0000

The Man In The Iron Mask always hits the spot!

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