John Hegley writes Tube poem

To celebrate 150 years of the London Underground, John Hegley has written a new poem.

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John Hegley's new Tube poem

John Hegley has written a new poem about the Tube for London Tonight Credit: Johnny Green/PA Wire

Poet John Hegley has written a poem about the Tube, to celebrate its 150th anniversary.

Of Mice and Many

When Judith from the Poetry Society

Asked me if I might have a word

About the Tube,

I told her that Georges Braque was my favourite painter.

She seemed dubious,

In doubt.

I meant that Georges Braque had been a Cubist.

I had mis-heard.

It was Tubism she wanted me to write about:

A commuter waits for a train at Acton Town tube station in London (from a set of images taken and processed with the iPhone) Credit: Richard Gray/EMPICS Entertainment

Turnham Green and Acton Town

Where Air Raid huddles laid them down.

Neasden, Willesden, Dollis Hill,

Tottenham Hale and Hearty, still.

Thankyou London Underground.

John Hough, Transport for London's current longest-serving member of staff, poses with a drawing of himself, by Jeremy Deller Credit: Clara Molden/PA Wire

And all your staff, who get me round.

I still find it astounding how deep you are.

When you are off, we’re off on rants

We cram the bus

And as we crawl like ants upon the surface… then we know

The rich resource that’s down below.

The tube is Lubricating.

In February, I’m booked to go

To Jackson’s Lane to do a show – by bus, is my intention, yes

But how glad I am that Highgate Station’s less

Than fifty yards across the road.

The tube is a nourishing subterranean facility. Like a potato.

A tuber-system.

A Passenger looks at the Underground map at the Mile End Station in East London. Credit: Steve Parsons/ PA

Since that first open carriage load,

Our Underground, how it has grown, and flourished.

Now, groan I do, I must admit

When I have to sit and wait and wait

For a service to get through

At Edgware Road, but that station does have to accommodate

The Metropolitan, The Hammersmith and City, The Circle,The District and the Bakerloo line.

So, here’s to the gaps, the maps

And the elapse of a hundred and fifty years since that first

Steaming monster hurled

Through its Metropolitan Minotaur world

Metropolitan Steam Locomotive Number 1, which dates from 1892, sits in an London Underground depot near Earl's Court Credit: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

To all the billiard ball-bottomed straps onto which I’ve hung.

And here’s to the police officer, who when I was illegally

busking outside Westminster Station, approached me and said,

‘Do you know any Neil Young?’


Aaron Short, from Suffolk, plays to commuters on Oxford Circus station, as buskers were allowed to perform on the Tube for the first time. Credit: Ian Nicholson/PA Archive


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