Mind the Gap

I’m going to cheat. I’m using the title of the Weekly Writing Challenge, but it isn’t quite the correct subject. I was going to take the bull by the horns, as it were, and give you my opinion, but the more I thought about it the more this story became the inspired subject, so I hope you aren’t too disappointed….

If you have travelled on the London Underground ‘Mind the Gap’ is a recording you will have heard many times. There are other recorded announcements you will have heard too, some on a regular basis and others on the odd occasion. As a student (goodness, that was in the last century 🙂 ) at London University I often had to travel to UCH, University College Hospital, for lectures. This necessitated a trip on the Northern Line to Goodge Street Station.

(image courtesy of Wikipedia)

Unlike most other underground stations there are no escalators and access to and from the road is via lifts. There was an automated announcement that finally sent me and fellow students into hysterics each time we heard it.

In the early days of college life the announcement to ‘Stand clear of the gates’ just sounded like a normal announcement. It was calm and clear, and everyone knew what they had to do. As time went on, however, this changed. The words were the same, but gradually over time they got faster and faster. As the speed increased, so too did the pitch. The calm clear pronouncement became a frenetic screech of ‘standclearofthegates’ It was unintelligible to new travellers who would raise their eyebrows in an inquiring fashion and then follow the crowd.

I wonder what it sounds like now. Let me know if you’ve been there in recent times. My last visit was umpty years ago!

10 thoughts on “Mind the Gap

  1. I live in the US and have a friend who proudly wears a “Mind The Gap” t-shirt from London. I suppose this phrase gives the subways in England a finer aura than here.

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  2. Oh yes, “mind the gap”…I remember on one visit to London being in a station (don’t remember which one) that’s built on a curve. Unfortunately, when the train stopped it was lined up in such a way that the famous Gap was far too wide for my short legs. (Even more unfortunately, my tall husband hopped on and rode away without realizing I had a problem…when we finally reconnected, I was not in a good mood. 😉 )

    But your screeching announcement sounds hilarious, as if the automated system was panicking!

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  3. It’s such a nice twist of the topic. Well done! When I first saw the topic, the London tube also sprang to mind. “Mind the gap” is such a powerful message in London. It also symbolised a phase of my life — my youth, to be precise!

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