Wednesday, May 31, 2006

"At Finchley Central, ten long stations, from Golders Green - change at Camden Town...

"... I thought I'd made you, but I'm afraid you really let me down..."

Heavens bless the Misery Line.
Okay, okay, I know it may not be the done thing to offer adoration, admiration, or even grudging non-loathing to the Northern Line and all who sail in it.
And, suffice to say, the scandalously strange contracts by which Metronet and Tube Lines get to mess around with both the Northern and Jubilee lines, woefully under-perform and yet get paid more in guaranteed bonuses than it would be worth their while spending to improve the tracks... Well, entirely important issues for another day. And perhaps a more rigorous blog, I dunno...
But, still... I'm currently feeling warm-ish towards the Northern Line and especially this little zone-three/four/five High Barnet branch along which most - most, not all, but most - of my significant stays have been centred.
I seem to have spent most of the past fortnight hoiking random slices of furniture, junk and, mostly, (news)paperwork into box after box after box, and then into my struggling-at-the-axles old Ford Ka, all the better to trundle along from New Barnet to my folks' home in Finchley, ahead of my putative move to new pastures, er, somewhere dead in the middle, that is Woodside Park...
After 18 months back in North London, I'm finally doing the grown-up thing of leaving behind the eternal, everything-spent-on-rent days of my immature budgetary past and finally buying, er, one whole half of a flat, thanks to the rather ingenious shared-ownership schemes which are, happily, spreading slowly across our estate-agent-whoopee-making environs...
Having been desperate to move back to London, anyway anyhow anywhere I choose, after quitting Be-right-on in 2004, I never really expected to be able to afford owning a place outright myself - but the pleasure of being back among the familiar felt enough.
But, I suppose, it was always one of those things which, ultimately, adults - or "adults" - must at least try to confront. And when my best friend found herself a home through Barnet Council's partnership with the Home Connections shared ownership people, it at least felt like something into which it would be worth looking. (Sorry for the awkwardness of that sentence, but then again - prepositions are things which no self-respecting sentence should end, er... with... Oops.)
At first, I was a little off-put by the website rules and restrictions, and the variegated application forms sent my way. It certainly seemed such half-, even quarter-ownership offers were meant more for your poor, deserving nurses, teachers, firefighters and (if you really, really must) police officers, rather than cynical hacks who may earn substantially less, certainly on local papers, but still... could never call upon such public support in times of strike, or general "aaaah..."-ness.
I know, and accept that...
But having expected very few waiting list points, and felt almost regretful about a recent (meagre-ish) pay rise, I wasn't really expecting to hear positively back too soon, no matter how many of their flats I took a tour around... Then again, the Barnet website would often stipulate an application would require a minumum salary of, say, £26,000, and savings of £2,500, for consideration - and so, I felt (just, just about) back in the game...
And, lo, I finally found somewhere willing to take me on - a new-build very close to Woodside Park station, a lovely little apartment and - most gleefully, enthrallingly of all - half-my-own in technical details, much-more-so spiritually (or so it seems to me right now, anyway...) Of course, all the technical stuff, financial advisors, solicitors, housing corps, etc, can feel rather baffling for a first-timer as myself, and my imminent three-week flight from this country may not actually contribute worthfully to the process, but at the moment, July 17 is set as the date I stride inside, slam the door propietorally behind me, and... start the tedious rigmarole of shifting all my rubbish from door to door again...
Hmm.
Well, in the meantime, I started this post intending to celebrate the move back onto the London Underground from the tedious overground of New Barnet station, so here at least are a few minor things I, at least, shall find to cherish again...
* The framed copy of Finchley Central resident Harry Beck's original, epochal London Underground map from the 1930s, a design classic which sadly didn't seem to win him the acclaim during his lifetime he surely deserved...
* The intrepid archer atop East Finchley station, aiming his arrow southwards yet surely, confidently aware his counterpart across the river, at the other end of the line at Morden has long gone missing...
* The Alec Gilroy lookalike who's been patrolling that lonely little West Finchley entrance for nigh-on two decades, I'm certain of it...
* The strange crackle in the electrical lines whenever a train approaches the West Finchley platforms, a more reliable indicator of oncoming traffic than any LED sign more centrally...
* The hardy newsagent's stall at the foot of the hazardously-steep slope at High Barnet...
* The legendary escalators at Highgate... always good for finishing whatever chapter of the book you've been reading on the train - and then starting and completing another for good measure...
* The moment mobile phones chime back into life as you hit open air again between East Finchley and Finchley Central, a seemingly interminably-long distance between two Tube stations only matched by the gaping gap between Finsbury Park and Seven Sisters on the Victoria Line...
* Being a QE Boy and having the choice of seats at High Barnet, all the better to look up to - and yet also look down on - the Finchley Catholic thugs as they crammed on at Woodside Park...
* Occasionally seeing the Scottish woman, not Joan "Just the one, Mrs Wembley?" Sims, from under-rated Dennis Waterman sitcom "On The Up" boarding the train at Finchley Central...
* Getting off at Camden Town and walking the rest of the way into, well, town...
* Getting off at Embankment and walking over the river to Waterloo...
* Getting off at Waterloo and walking over the river to Embankment...
* Enjoying all this, and yet still having that special Misery Line moral-one-up-man-ship when griping about the Tube with all and Underground sundry...

5 comments:

Mike said...

Congratulations on getting your own place. We really must look into shared ownnership as we haven't got a chance of buying anywhere for at least a couple of years.

Welcome back to the Misery Line too. I enjoy a daily dose of misery between Euston and London Bridge, which can only be abated if I manage to get a seat.

Hope the move goes well.

a.c.t said...

Either that or an ex-local authority as they are now called - in my day it was called ex-council. They always seem a bit more affordable. Well done on the purchase.

Aidan said...

Cheers, though still plenty of Ts to be dotted and Is to be crossed.

Thankfully Woodside Park is early enough on the line to be pretty-much guaranteed a seat. And a choice of at least 27 copies of Metro, of course...

I always carry a good book.

Lyndon said...

Surely the phones crack to life again between Highgate and East Finchley? Ok, you only have time for a quick chat after emerging from the tunnel before you are actually in between East Finchley and Finchley Central, but the latter two are both above ground, non?

Why am I even bothering with such a boring correction?

Getting a seat is important, however, which is why I like it when the Ch+ train comes to Finchley C from Mill Hill East rather than from High Barnet. Also sometimes walk to Embankment rather than Charing Cross on the way home to enhance seat-getting chances...

hmmm... I could really be using my brain power for other things...

Aidan said...

You are indeed right, and twice over...
It is the emergence overground betwixt Highgate and East Finchley.

And also, well, you said it yourself...
"I could really be using my brain power for other things..."

Carry on....!