If you live in London, work in London, or are even vaguely aware of the concept of London, you will know that this past week the city has been plagued by the two most chilling words any urban commuter can ever hear – ‘tube strikes.’ A severely reduced service below street-level transformed the city into a heaving, passive aggressive mass, whereby queues for buses stretched so far and so wide that they melded into one solid block. Subterranean commuters were forced above ground, like worms in the rain, blinking in the sunlight, trying to scan contactless payment cards against trees and walking only on the lefthand side of pavements.
Just when we thought it was all over though, as the underground finally resumed its usual, just-about-satisfactory service, London was struck by disaster again. This time, it took the form of an upgraded, modern version of the snowstorm known as ‘thundersnow’. People were thrown into a state of panic – what is thundersnow? Where is it coming from? Is it still safe to go to the pub?
As the savvy Londoners that we are here at SESOME, we’ve pooled our knowledge to put together a comprehensive guide for surviving these extreme and unprecedented conditions. Be careful people – it’s a jungle out there. A striking, queue covered, thundersnow-y jungle.
Learn to create your own personal space
Let’s face facts – fewer tubes, oversaturated buses and apocalyptic weather conditions will create crowds. Of course, we all know that central London has no time for claustrophobia, but in situations whereby its streets and public transport resemble the Last Days of Rome mixed with Oxford Circus on Black Friday, you’re gonna have to get creative if you want to avoid your soul being physically fused to another in the crush. If you have a happy place, this is the time to go to it.
With a just a little bit of imagination and visualisation, you could be soaking up the rays on a beach in Tahiti, when in reality your face is buried deep within the cavernous armpit of a fellow commuter, and your left arm is resting inside someone’s rucksack.
Use your excess train-waiting time to practice mindfulness
Adverse weather conditions (anything between three snowflakes to raging ice storms) teamed with fewer trains is only ever going to equal excessive waiting. Author Carlos Ruiz Zafon once wrote that ‘waiting is the rust of the soul’, so prepare yours accordingly. However difficult though, try to see this waiting as a gift – the gift of time itself. Why not use it to better yourself by meditating and exercising mindfulness? You never know, if you’re a Southern Rail customer, you may even have time to be reincarnated as a dolphin and reach enlightenment in Nirvana.
This is not the time to roadtest that brand new pair of sling-backs – comfy shoes are ESSENTIAL. Nor is it advisable to venture out without a coat that could double as an tent in an emergency. Additional items that might come in useful include: waterproof trousers, first aid kit, compass, crampons and distress flares.
Outsmart nature with technology
Provided your phone survives the ordeal, apps will be your very best friend during this uncertain period. Find a friendly snowplough driver to carpool with using liftshare or channel your inner extreme sportsman by cycling through the storm – Bike Share Map will let you know where the free ones are. And, to stay one step ahead of the masses, use this handy national rail update app to watch helplessly as your trains are cancelled and delayed.
Consider alternative transport
If carpooling, biking or walking aren’t looking too hot, there’s always the soul-crushingly inflated prices of Uber to fall back on. If you aren’t earning £10,000 a week, Hailo is a super efficient and helpful taxi app that makes use of local cabbies. Alternatively, you could try Vengabus (although you would have to travel via New York, San Francisco and an inter-city disco), Yellow Submarine or Nimbus 2000.
Just stay at home
Sometimes, it’s best to just draw the curtains, stay in bed and binge eat doughnuts. What else is remote working for amirite?