When the pub laws change in the UK next week we may lose some things. Of course I am not sure that this gem of London life will disappear with the introduction of new drinking laws, which allow pubs in the UK to stay open past 11pm [finally, at last, why did it take so long?], but if it does disappear I will miss it… What I am talking about is the occasional moments of celebratory sociality that London tube travellers are capable of, for about an hour after closing time. Most of the time they sit in awful silence on the tube (subway to those of you in New York), and I find this dire. But come closing time, there are games. Tonight, as has happened to me before, the entire carriage was playing tube-charades. Its totally naff, but I appreciate the effort. How to play: someone starts by miming the hand gesture for tube (this does seem a bit risky, but you can do it with style). Then they use the usual charades codes for one word, two word, first syllable, second syllable etc. The charade word(s) that the other passengers must guess will always be a tube station. Sure, there is always going to be some wit that mimes for the station name ‘Bank’ with the ‘sounds like’ routine of something that is, well, similar to tube, but anatomically lower down. There are plenty of other – better – examples, and on the whole its all good fun. Success is when, if you get the correct answer, its your turn to mime a station. You have a whole train carriage in the palm of your hand. Routine: you do the gesture for tube, two syllable word; first syllable: imitation of Marx’s beard, and huge statuesque head, hold your hand up high, or snuffle something off the back of your hand; second syllable: mime the opening through a fence… do you see what it is yet? “High-gate”. And so on. Handy thing is that the London Tube Authorities place a convenient map of the entire tube network in each carriage in case you cannot think of a station to mime too. I am still waiting on the sensational prospect of our distinguished anthropology Professor miming away to ‘Blackfriars’. Who knows, we might have to start a class. Ha.


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