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  • Mark Mathews

Who to avoid on the London Underground


You know, for the majority of commuters in London, being kind and loving as they make their journey from A to B through those underground tunnels beneath the city, is just a way of life. Sure, let them be as they make their journey and for the love of God don't chat to them uninvited (!), but these are good people, with big hearts and as a Busker, I get to see them on the reg.

I love these folk.

But every now and again you run into someone that is so mean-spirited and horrible, your faith in humanity is severely tested. These people are the scourge of the underground, ruining peoples commute and purposefully ruining your day.

However, I have seen many of these Scourgers in my time busking the London Underground and I have worked out the characteristics that they all hold and that, more importantly, gives them away.

And so below I have listed the three key characteristics that these folk hold, so that when you take those escalators down to that subterranean world you are armed with the knowledge and facts of who to stay away from!

1. (Never) Walking on Sunshine

A true Scourger believes he/she is entitled to do anything they want to do, in order to get to where they are going - regardless of the wake they leave behind. I was once busking in Bond Street station, having a wonderful time as is mostly the case, when a miserable old Scourger, who believed he was more important than me and my guitar case, (that were clearly located on the designated London Underground busking pitches just to be clear) stomped right through my stuff continued to stomp, not walk but STOMP, through it all, kicking the money about as he went and sending business cards flying across the floor. What an absolute arse.

ONLY. ONLY, if you were Richard Ashcroft and I was doing a rendition of Bitter Sweet Symphony could you get away with such Twatish-ness and I don't reckon even he would do that.

2. The look of (anything but) love

These Scourgers look constantly angered and aggrieved with the world and their beedy little eyes will dart around finding fault with everything, anything and anyone, hoping it gives them an excuse to moan and whine. Their faces are the dictionary definition of joyless and would make Victor Meldrew look positively, ecstatically happy.

3. The sound of (no) silence

If you can't see their faces, or notice their walks amongst the heavy throngs of commuters down in the underground, a sure fire way of knowing if a Scourger is about is to listen out for them. they are almost always shouting at someone, moaning to someone or griping with themselves. These people hate life so much that they don't want anyone to have any joy whatsoever. I once was playing a Kings of Leon cover in Oxford Circus, and the crowd were enjoying themselves and singing along. All of a sudden, from way down the tunnel, I heard the familiar sound of a Scourger. He was screaming about the racket being made, even though it was him who was the loudest over all of us. As he walked past he screamed in my face about music not being allowed. I gently pointed with my foot at my TFL Busking License and carried on...the guaranteed way to annoy such a person.

Alas, though it is generally best to ignore and avoid these joyless and spite filled folk, there is something in me that kind of likes having them around. The Underground has people of every faith, creed, race and gender milling about down there and I love the diversity and the stories that come from being amongst it all. So, whilst I will continue to keep my eyes peeled for them ready to keep out their way, I still salute them all and show them some love. So here's to the Scourges of London Underground! Hoo Rah!

Have you met any nasty people on your commute? Let me know in the comments below!

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