Friday, November 27, 2009

London DLR - reality ceases to exist and Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere comes alive

I recall reading Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere way before I step foot in London. In the book, Gaiman skillfully splices the everyday life in London into what we perceived as reality or "London Above" and the part that we choose to ignore or "London Below".

Neil+Gaiman+Neverwhere+London+DLR+reality+ceased+to+exist+Singaporean+in+LondonIn "London Below", everything exists in a separate plane and things do not work the same way the do in "London Above". Neverwhere went on to explore the London Underground stations where an Earl holds court at Earl's Court station, an Angel residing at Angel station and the terror of crossing the bridge engulfed by the darkness of the night at, you've guessed it - Knightsbridge.

I am travelling on the DLR this morning and it strucks me that reality ceases to exist once you step into a DLR station, and once you step into a DLR train, turning back is almost certainly impossible. It's like I have stepped into "London Below".

DLR time phenomenon - It will be a folly if you think that a DLR minute is equivalent to the minute as you understand. The moment you step into a DLR station, Einstein Theory of Relativity kicks in. Time is expanded within the confines of space. Not only each second becomes longer, the number of them in each minute increases.

I realise that an adjustment factor is in order and the current recommendation is 1.45. If it says on the display panel that the train to Lewisham will arrive in say 5min, the 'real' time is just over 7min. Don't take my word for it, check it out yourself.

Technology ceases to exist - Considering the amount of money being poured into the DLR every year (to be honest, I don't know how much that is but I'm sure 'a lot' is just about right), you would expect the station and staff to be equipped with the most advanced weaponary, ahem, I mean equipment, right?

When Jubilee Line conveniently broke down during the peak evening hours, everybody crowded to the DLR station at Canary Wharf. The result was bodies jammed pack against each other in every square feet of the platform (the '2012' scene where people desperate to board the giant ships imediately comes into mind). Instead of using the public announcement system, DLR staff squeezed through the crowds and screaming directions at the top of their voices. Loudspeakers? What's that?

The tunnel of nothingness - the DLR trains pulls into Bank and everyone steps out as that's where the train terminates. I alight at one end of the platform and proceed to the opposite end as the train doors close.

There is a loud thumping and I look up. There is a man who is still in a carriage. He throws himself at the glass panel to attract my attention - the 'door open' button no longer works when the train is in Bank.

He looks at me in despair as the DLR train pulls away from Platform 10 into a tunnel of darkness. We are told that the train will eventually remerges on Platform 9 facing the opposite direction. That's what they will like us to believe. I never saw the man again.

Neil+Gaiman+Neverwhere+London+DLR+reality+ceased+to+exist+Singaporean+in+London
Life exists on a parallel plane on the DLR

When Neil Gaiman writes about 'London Below' in Neverwhere, he wasn't imagining things. Somewhere in the abyss beneath London, there is a land without loudspeakers. And a man trapped in the ever expanding time space.

Image of Neverwhere by digitalmuse

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4 comments:

... said...

Whaaaat????!!! O_____O
OMG! That poor guy!! I hope someone got him out there soon. I would have died of fear if this had happened to me.

::karinuslai:: said...

HAHAHAHAHAHA! Genius of a post - worthy of Neil's own blog :)

Emm said...

Brilliant post! I will definitely have to read that book now!!

C K said...

@Aidyl,
You wouldn't die of fear, you'll just be swallowed by the darkness and cease to exist... well, that's what I like to believe. :)

@karinuslai,
Thanks! I had great fun writing this. Was typing away on my phone while taking the... DLR of course.

@Emm,
DO go read it. It's one of those book that you can easily read from cover to cover without putting it down.