Saturday, September 03, 2005

Tube Relief Challenge - The D Day

Since I've already made a promise that I am going to write a brief coverage of the Tube Relief (which I regret it soon after), here it is:

04.30am: Here we are in Amersham! Half an hour earlier than we're supposed to be. The taxi driver was very keen to send us to Amersham by driving so fast that I can feel 1 and 1/2 piece of pizza I gulped for breakfast earlier jumping around in joy inside my stomach. Not a real happy bunny myself, but glad that at least am still breathing.

In addition to that, maybe it's also good for health and safety reason that they warned their customer of possibility to get a "neck injuries" caused by anxious client(s) sitting at the back seat that keep "extending their neck" to see the road in front that fly pass them so fast that they thought they were in a rollercoaster ride. Cos, I've got that mild injury myself. I suddenly remember the message I read the night before, typed into the aforementioned taxi's business card: "Customer please sit at the back seat". Now, I think they really should also give a consideration in putting another message there ".. and mind your neck".

By the time we reached Amersham, two other groups were already there but we hardly spoken to each other. A real shame. I guess we were feeling a bit shy to each other for a start and who can blame me for being startled early morning like this when my brain is on "off-duty"? Am not really a morning person, you see. By 05.15am, other challengers had arrived and keen for the challenge to start.

05.25am is the time when we all started to make our way together to the first platform of the day, Amersham. That's after the "Record breaker Men", Geoff and Neil, arrived and uniting everyone together, happy photo shoots of all the challenger, and handing out Red cross and TubeRelief leaflets to be given out to everyone that will be asking what we are doing.

Now, sorry for being cheeky, but if you want to know what happened between 05.25 to about 7.45am, please refer to a more thorough write up made by Geoff and Annie Mole.

Anyway, we then spread up in groups at about 7.45am and start our mission for the day. But since some groups (Geoff's, Sam Cawley's and some other groups) had a slight similarity route to Elephant and Castle and , we decided to continue our journey together. Things, however, start to get slightly ugly when we reached Elephant & Castle and tried to squeeze into northbound Northern line. It was half an hour to 9am, just right at the rush hour time and here we are trying to squeeze in but all I can see is people's derriere. Couldn't really afford to get stared at (eventhough am counted as petite) by pushing myself into the totally packed carriages, we decided to back off and grumpily looked at the train that started to move by now, without us in it. Oh well, minus 5minutes now.

The next train came about 5 minutes later, but Jon -can't help but being such an annoyance- decided to go to another carriage but has forgotten totally about me. Being short and lack of sleep has totally made me a complete idiot as I can't figure out where he is and all I can hear is his voice calling my name from somewhere either on the platform or one of the carriages. Couldn't risk missing another train, I decided to jump inside one of the carriage but still being disturbed by the voice of Jon keep calling my name and I can't figure out where he is. Panicky, I stick my head out of the carriage and look around to no avail. Lucky for me, a young lady at the platform shouted at me "he is there!" pointing at the second carriage away from mine, and I can see his head sticking out as well from the mentioned carriage. Mumbling a brief "thank you" to the young lady, I decided to go out from the carriage where I was and try to run as fast as a rabbit against the stream of people trying to get out of the station. I can't help but feel sorry for those that I bumped into, they must be thinking what on earth had hit him/her in a flash second. Thank God, either the driver understood my intention to run to the other carriage to be "united" back to "the other remaining" of my group or it's just pure coincidence, but no matter what, huffing and puffing, I manage to get to the other carriage just on the right time when the doors started to close. However to be greeted with commuters looking at me oddly. Ups! so time to hand out those leaflets then! :)

Now if you remember earlier that we were being "well equipped" with the redcross and Tube Relief leaflets to be handed out to people who might want to know what we are doing, sadly in our case, nobody really ask us what we are doing, so I just handed the leaflets out anyway throughout the day with a brief mumble of " Would you like to read this?" and were accepted with a smile and "thank you".

Commuters has started picking up and flooded the London Bridge station later on when we were there to get a change from Northern to Jubilee line, continuing our journey northbound. Being squashed with my face to someone's arm pit and my derriere to someone's briefcase, I politely try to wriggle about to get into a better position only to be stared by other "squashed victim" and so decided to look down and examining my shoe laces instead.

It's amazing how much experiences we had in just an hour time. By 09.35am, we had been told off by one of the underground worker through the tanoy saying that any type of digital recording are not allowed in any part of the Canary Wharf station and that we are supposed to ask a permission first from any of the underground staff before doing so. Also by 09.35am, we had gone to a wrong direction and need to double back three stations and Jon had managed to "excuse" himself for about three to four times, which means another twenty minutes missing for toilet stops. I've told him empty bottles are there for a reason..

About an hour later, we came across Norman and Matt and four of us were merrily doing the boring Hainault Loop together before Norman and Matt went on a separate journey at Stratford. I was left with an empty hollow in my stomach seeing them having their perfect sandwich lunch on the tube and wondering how could me and Jon forget about our packed lunch but remembering to bring those sugar boosting snacks! argh!

It's almost 1pm when my stomach start grumbling again and by this time I really can't ignore it. Giving a good excuse of the 12minutes wait for the next Metroline, off we go out the station and running like a greyhound to the nearest food station, Subway. Miraculously that is the only time Jon had ever agreed with my choice of Subway, Italian BMT (he usually complain a lot on how he can't take cold meat bla bla bla..). Few minutes later we were making our way back to the station running like a mad dog down the stairs and surprisingly, three minutes to spare.

It was 16.30 when we made it to Euston for the pitstop. I was a bit startled seeing so many people with lime bright jacket but realised within second that they were policemen and women with sniffer dogs around checking random people. Normal security check, I guess. We were completely exhausted and Euston pitstop seemed just a dream in my mind as I can vaguely remember what happened and hardly able to interact with people.

Anyway, it was 17.27pm and we were in High Barnet when we were discussing that soon it will be exactly 12 hours since we started the whole thing from Amersham. In a way, it seems that we were there just few minutes ago, sitting in front of the station with freezing derriere on the station pavement. At this stage, I started to feel the "workout pain" on all my body mucles! I can also hear myself muttering under my breath on how could I agree to do all this madness without even a second thought, only to be greeted with Jon's thought being said out loud " Somehow, I think this Tube Challenge is quite an addictive thing!". All I can do is greeted my teeth and pretend not to hear it. I can't really say that it actually get into me as well..

By about 7pm, we sat in quite an empty carriage all the way back to Euston after doing one of the Northern Northbound end. Feeling exhausted, I fell asleep conveniently between Brent Cross and Euston before being rudely awaken by Jon at Goodge Street.

"Come on, we need to take photographs here", he said.
"Can't we just stay on and carry on all the way till the end?", I said pleadingly.

That's it! I went down grumpily and looking for an empty bench along the platform. Curiously, all the bench were occupied by people but one left empty and untouched right at the end of the platform. Approaching the empty bench suspiciously (is there something wrong with this bench? why no one seating here?) we realised that apparently someone (later on we figure out it was Geoff ) had sticked a sort of "notice" saying something like "Get your photo taken here".


Right.. that must be the one that scared people off. But anyway, we were happily taking our pictures there, witnessed by commuters inside the train -that come and go- looking at us oddly.

Few hours later, we had completed about 240stations including Ealing Broadway, grab our dinner (two pack of greasy chips) from nearby takeaway shop in Ealing and we had a terrible temptation of just going straight back to Jon's house rather than going all the way up to Upminster. "Imagine, how nice and comfy a bed can be at this time of day", says our evil side. Apparently, heavy heartedly, we manage to get back to Ealing Broadway station and continuing our journey from there.

12.45am: Upminster!! By this time, we had experienced being almost locked up in one of the station in Hammersmith&City line, have an uncountable further toilet stops, being grilled "alive" (we almost know by now how it feels like being a roasted duck) in Victoria line tube, being stared oddly at and endlessly by commuters and members of underground staff alike, and having the urge to runaway back to Jon's house rather than continuing our journey up to Upminster. But most of all, we had experienced the warmth in our heart as we had done what we can to show our support.

03.30am: It's 23 hours after our last sleep. We get back safely, thanks to Helene who sent us home accompanied by "rattling entertainment" between Helene herself, Ann Pixeldiva and Neil.
Everything went blurry after that. The next thing I remembered, I woke up the next day, about 1.30pm and the whole thing seems just a dream.

Just to sum up the whole thing: We are still not afraid!

Tube Relief Challenge 24/08/05

And, we are still open for donation (please click here)

No comments: