17 November 2011

"Not on the escalators please, Madam..."

It's 8:12am or so. I'm zipping up the escalators at Green Park station. It's one of those days that I decide to stand to the right and wait, rather than trudge up the left side, mainly to avoid staring at the person in front's behind for around twenty five steps. Thankfully it's not too busy, so I leave a step or two between me and the little old lady in front, and as etiquette suggests, the man behind waits a few steps behind me. I've got Julian Casablancas Tourist blaring in my ears and I'm in a fairly happy mood, so I twist and look down at the people coming up the escalator the other side, bopping my head slightly to the beat. Then suddenly, I notice their eyes widen. As with all expressions in London, it's only a fleeting widen of the eyes, before dropping back to the usual deadpan look, but I notice it none the less.
I turn back to see what could be quite so shocking on a Friday morning, halfway up the escalators at Green Park station, that it could make a whole row of commuter's eyebrows raise half a centimetre.

The little old lady standing just in front of me is unashamedly - and rather energetically - lunging on the escalators

I blink to make sure she isn't an early morning apparition. No. There she is, quickly checking behind her for oncoming traffic, gripping to the moving handrail, placing her right foot up two steps in front of her, and before anyone looks twice, down she goes until her back leg is completely straight and her chin nearly touches her knee; one, two, three, lunge.
She must be in her late seventies, has short grey hair and half-moon bifocal glasses, a long waterproof maroon overcoat with all the buttons done neatly up the front. Through her papery skin, I notice the blue-purple veins protruding from deep concentration. As she steps back again with purpose and goes to lift her left leg I see the flick of a pleated tartan A-line skirt. I'd even go as far to say - I heard her puff.

Quite why she was lunging, I'll never know. Perhaps she had a stitch. Perhaps she was a champion lunger, back in the day.  But she continued to puff, stretch her legs out and bend her knees, right up the escalator until we reached the ticket hall. 

And the stitch I got from laughing too hard lasted all the way until I reached the office.


  1. Great observation, very funny. I was on the tube yesterday when the guy on the seat opposite started dancing. At first it was funny; then scary, the frightening. I wonder what he was listening to...

  2. it!
    you gotta watch those lil ole ladies...unpredictable as the italian government..
    Either they are completely nutty and unaware of their actions or they a sly like a fox and think fuck it, im an ole lady and im gonna go a bit nutso...just for fun

  3. Perhaps escalator lunging is trending in London these days? Or it's about to... Why, this could have been an Olympic event!

    Cute story--loved all the detail. Felt like I was giggling right beside you. ;)

  4. Lovely post.

    Think I'd have found it impossible not to have smiled at seeing the lunger - you have to love her free-spiritedness.