76. Mind The Gap – How to use the London Underground (with Oli & Pasquale)

In this episode you’ll listen to a conversation between me, my cousin Oli and our friend Pasquale from Canada. We give some useful advice for using the tube, and have a good laugh at the same time.

Small Donate ButtonRight-click here to download the episode.
How to use this episode to improve your English
You should:
Try to follow the conversation between 3 native speakers
Notice any differences in accent (Oli and I are from London, Pasquale is originally from Montreal in Canada)
Try to notice specific bits of language, phrases, expressions which are used.
There’s a lot of humour in the conversation – do you find it funny? Why? Why not?

If you like, you can transcribe some parts of the conversation. You’ll find this really focusses your listening and allows you to pick up phrases, vocabulary and features of pronunciation more effectively.

Advice for using the Tube
Here is a summary of the advice given in the episode:
1. Keep moving! Don’t stop! Don’t hold up the passengers behind you. Don’t block the corridors or the platforms.
2. Top up your Oyster card before you travel. Don’t waste time searching through your pockets or your handbag (ladies!)
3. Stand on the right of the escalators. Let people walk past on the left.
4. When you reach the platform, move down to the end.
5. If the platform is crowded, stand near the platform exit – more people will get off the train there and it will be easier to find space in the carriage.
6. To get on the train first you need to find out where the doors will stop. Do this by looking at the yellow line on the platform. Find the places where the paint is worn down and then wait there. The paint gets worn away by people who step off the train onto the yellow line. Where the paint is worn down is where the doors will stop!
7. Let other people get off the train first.
8. When you get on, move down inside the carriage. Don’t be shy!
9. If you’re wearing a back-pack or a rucksack, take it off. It will use up too much space.
10. Take care of your personal hygiene. Use some deodorant so you don’t smell of BO (body odour)
11. Give up your seat for elderly, disabled, injured or pregnant passengers.
12. Don’t talk too loudly or be anti-social
13. Don’t play your music too loud
14. Don’t feel you need to talk to everyone. People don’t want to be disturbed. They just want to get from A to B.
15. Chill out and read a book!

That’s it. Enjoy! Any questions, email me: luketeacher@hotmail.com

Your donations make this podcast possible. Feel free to donate any amount you consider appropriate.

Transcript for the introduction to “Mind the Gap – The London Underground”

Mind the Gap, Ladies and Gentleman, because this episode is all about the London Underground and in this episode you’re going to listen to a conversation between me, my cousin Oliver and our friend Pasquale as we talk about using the London Underground and giving you some particularly good, and very useful advice on exactly how you should use the Underground effectively.

Now in London basically there are two …, well, there is about 7 million people living in London, and as well as that we get millions of tourists visiting the city every year. Particularly next year 2012, because of the Olympic Games, there will be an estimated, something like, something ridiculous, like another 6 million people are gonna come to the city, so we thought, it would be very important to give some advice, share some tips on how you should use the Underground to make sure it doesn’t get blocked and it doesn’t get too crowded.

Now, for like Londoners, for people, who live in London, there are basically two types of tourist, now: on one hand you’ve got the bad tourists, now these are the ones, who come to the city in large numbers, and they don’t know how to operate, they don’t know, they don’t realise, that they are visiting a city, which is full of people, who need to get from A to B as quickly as possible, because they need to do their job, right, so these tourists: they come, because they are on holiday, they don’t realize and they just come, and they might, for example, just stand around on the street in large groups, just blocking the street, or they would get into the underground system, and just, sort of stop in a passage way and look at their tourist maps, because they are trying to work out where to go, and all of the time, they’re just blocking people, getting in the way, making life difficult for the ordinary Londoners who have to get from A to B in order to do their work, right? So that’s the bad tourists, those are the ones that are just, sort of like, standing around in the street, just going: ‘oh, la, la, la la la, I’m just having a lovely holiday’ and meanwhile, the rest of London gets blocked behind them.

Then, on the other hand you’ve got the good tourists, and these are the ones, who kind of do a little bit of research before they come to the city and they realize, they’re not just going on a holiday to a city, but they also becoming part of a very complicated system of people moving around, right, and they realize that really to appreciate the city properly, they’ve got to sort of think about using the Underground system or the buses or whatever, they’ve just got to think about moving around as if they were real Londoners, so they realize that they’re in a city, which is full of people moving around and they just keep cool, they go to the cool places and they don’t get in the way too much and they see what London is really like, rather than just living in some sort of dreamworld holiday, kinda thing, right.

So now in this episode, hopefully, you’ll get some advice which will allow you to be one of those good tourists, one of those cool tourists. I don’t know maybe you already live in London, maybe you’re learning English here and you live here in London, in which case you probably use the Underground every day and so you should definitely follow this advice, it will really help you, and, or maybe you’re not even learning English, maybe you’re just like a teacher of English or just someone who enjoys listening to this podcast and maybe you live in London too, well you use the Underground as well so why don’t you listen to this as well? And use it to kind of, you know, give you a few ideas of maybe how you can get on that crowded train that you keep missing, or how you can just get a seat if you usually can’t find a seat. There’s an art in using the underground, and you’re going to learn about it in this episode.

Now, let me just give you a few facts about the London underground, well, basically there’re, as I said, more than 7 millions residents in London, everyday millions of people use the Underground, it’s the oldest Underground railway in the world, it was first opened in 1890. Londoners called it ‘the Tube’, or ‘the Tube’ (different pronunciation), that’s because the shape of the tunnels is a bit like a tube. I call it ‘the Tube’, right, or the Underground In France in Paris, they call it ‘the Metro’, that’s the Paris metro, is their underground system, in New York the underground system is called ‘the Subway’, and then here in London it’s called the Underground or the Tube. And it’s an international icon for London, you probably know that the logo for the London underground is blue circle with the red horizontal line, you probably know, the London underground map, because that’s also a kind of cultural icon, which represents London. It’s a design classic-the London underground map, and it was developed with many different stages and it’s now very famous, the London underground map. There’re 270 stations on the underground, and 402km of track. Each year more than 1 billion individual journeys are made, it’s the 3rd biggest metro system in Europe, after Moscow and Paris, and it’s the 2nd biggest, sorry, it’s the 3rd busiest metro system in Europe, after Moscow and Paris, and it’s the 2nd biggest metro system in the world after Shanghai.

So, what else can I tell you about this episode, well, you’re going to get some advice, like I said. The conversation, you’re going to hear, is between me and my cousin Oli (Oliver). Now Oli is a very, very close friend of mine and my cousin, we are basically the same age, he is 2 years older, no, he is 2 weeks older than me, Pasquale is a friend of both of ours, and he is from Montreal in Canada, but he’s been living in London for 3 years. Now Oli has been using the underground to get to work every day for 10 years. Everyday he spends 2 hours on the underground, that’s one hour to get to work and one hour to get back. Two hours every day for 10 years, that pretty much makes him a kind of an expert on the London underground, in my opinion. He knows all the secrets, he knows how to get a seat, he knows the best ways to make sure that you don’t block the corridors and that you can find the exit points easily. He’s a master of using the Underground; he’s got some very advanced tips to give you. Pasquale has been living in London for 3 years, even though, originally he is from Canada, you’ll be able to hear his Canadian accent, in fact. But he’s been living in London for 3 years, he doesn’t really like using the Underground, because he thinks it’s too crowded, and it’s not very healthy, he prefers to cycle, which is even more dangerous in my opinion. If you cycle on the streets of London, you’ve got to be some sort of crazy adrenaline junkie or something, but, I guess, that’s what he likes to do. It gets him from A to B, so you’re going to listen to us talking.

Now, the conversation is pretty quick, because there’s 3 of us, and so we give bits of advice. Now I thought I’d summarize the advice for you, just to make it useful, so you can just hear the advice basically from me now, and the you can listen to the conversation and enjoy it, and you’ll know basically what we are talking about. So it should help you to understand the conversation. Let me just summarize the advice now.

Now, this advice really comes from Oli, because he’s the heavy user of the underground, right. He says 1st thing: you’ve got to keep moving, don’t stop, OK? Keep moving, so when you get to the gate you must have your oyster card ready. An oyster card is an electronic ticket, and you can top up the oyster card with credit, so you put money on it, before you travel, and then, when you go through the gates you beep your oyster card: beep, like that on a sensor. You beep it and that automatically takes some credit away from your card, OK, so you don’t need to keep paying for a ticket every time you travel. You top up at the beginning of the week and then you just beep in and beep out, so you must have your oyster card ready, don’t sort of, don’t block everyone by going through your pockets, trying to find your oyster card. Women, get your oyster card ready, because there’s nothing more time consuming than waiting for you to find your oyster card in your handbag, because we know that a handbag is a bit like a, it’s like the Tardis, you know, from Doctor Who, it’s, they look small, but inside there’s massive amount of space. So get your oyster card out of your handbag, before you get to the gate. Then you won’t block everyone, you won’t waste time that way, OK? Next thing, when you’re using the escalators, the escalators, by the way are those electronic stairs, the stairs, that kind of automatically take you down or up the escalators. When you’re using the escalators in London, you must stand on the right, and let passengers walk past you, on the left. It’s one of the worst things, that tourists do, the thing that annoys Londoners the most. It’s when tourists get onto the escalator, and they just stop. They stand in the middle and they block it and people can’t get past.

So if you’re lazy and you don’t wanna walk up or down the escalator you must make sure you’re standing on the right, and that there’s enough space on the left. So stand on the right of the escalator. When you reach the station platform, don’t stop there, oh, no, no, no. You must keep moving. Move down the platform. The same goes, when you get onto the train. Don’t just stop when you get onto the train, you must move down inside the car, move down inside the carriage, because you’ve got to remember, there’s million Londoners behind you, who wanna get on that train, so you must make space. Don’t be shy, move down inside the carriage, right? Now, here is some tips for getting on the train, when it’s really crowded. Now these are some advanced level tips. And Oliver will tell you more about them during the conversation you’re going listen to. So here’s one tip: you should find the exit from the platform and stand there. Because when the train comes in, all of the clever travellers will have got onto that car near where the exit will be. And they will all exit the train at that point, and then you’ll just stand to one side, let them all exit and then you can slip into the train. And there is going definitely be space, because everyone got off near the exit right? That’s some pretty clever advanced level stuff. The other thing is:how do you know where the doors will stop? It’s difficult to know where the doors will stop. In Japan there’re markings on the platform, that tell you exactly, where the doors will stop. That’s not the case in London. So how do you know where the doors will stop? The one thing you could do is look at the yellow line. There’s one yellow line on the platform that you should stand behind so that you’re safe. Look at that yellow line and where the paint has worn down, where the pant has worn down, you’ll know that’s when the doors open. People get off the train there and they step on the yellow line and they wear down the paint. Then you know if you can see that the paint has been worn down, you know that’s where the doors are gonna open. So you stand there. Clever, isn’t? Clever stuff. Stand near where the paint has been worn away, coz that’s where the doors will be. Then the doors will open, right, near you, you let people get off first, then you can get on the train. Bingo! You’ve got a seat, you can relax, you can chill out, you can read a book, or you just chill, whatever you wanna do, right? Because you’ve managed to find that most coveted prize on the London Underground. And that’s a seat Ladies and Gentleman, that’s right. So next thing, that you’re gonna hear about is etiquette. Now etiquette basically means things that you should do or things you shouldn’t do in a social situation. Etiquette, right. So let’s see etiquette when you get…,err, etiquette, let’s see, etiquette you should get out of the way. So if you’re gonna stop on the platform, make sure you get out of the way, so you can let people pass. It’s common sense really. Next thing is, when the train stops and the doors open let the passengers off the train first, allow, give them space to get off that train and I know there’s 100 people on the platform and they all want to get onto the train. They all wanna get a seat, but you still got to be polite, you must make space. Let the passengers off the train first and then get on and then move down inside the carriage, right? Now, if you’re wearing a backpack, wearing a rucksack, a big bag on your back, you should take that off, because otherwise you’re going to use up a lot of space. Take the bag off your back, put it down by your feet. It creates more space. When you’re…, you must pay attention to your personal hygiene. That’s basically, you’re got to be, try stay clean, coz it’s horrible, if there’s BO. Do you know what BO means? Well, it’s body odour, right? BO. BO can be horrible on the Underground. If you’re trapped next to a guy, who’s got a BO, oh, it can make you feel really sick. It can destroy your day and put you in a really bad mood. So before you get on the Underground, check the BO situation, OK? Make sure you’re using some nice deodorant, yeah? Keep yourself clean (laugh).
Next thing, don’t listen to music too loud on your iPod, right, because otherwise you’ll distract and irritate the other passengers. So there’s nothing more annoying that (imitated techno music sounds) throughout your journey. It’s just really annoying. Secondly, if you’ve got a mobile phone that plays music, use some headphones. Don’t just play the music out loud; no one cares about your music. So use some headphones and don’t play the music too loud, OK? Don’t eat smelly food, that’s disgusting. Don’t go onto the…, err, don’t take your McDonald’s onto the train, unless you have to, unless you’re dying of hunger or something. Don’t bring the McDonald’s, or the pizza or the kebab onto the train, it’s disgusting, right? Eat first, travel second, something like that. Some kind of a rule there. Don’t bring smelly food onto the Underground. If you see an elderly person, an old person, if you see a disabled person, an injured person or a pregnant woman. You’re very unlikely to see a pregnant man, so don’t worry about that. So a pregnant woman, a pregnant person. If you see any of those things, please consider giving up your seat for that person. That’s just politeness and it’s also one of the rules of etiquette on the Underground. If you don’t give up your seat, you’re gonna look like a nasty, horrible person. And there’s nothing, nothing worse than being a nasty, horrible person, is there? Oh, no. There isn’t. So give up your seat to elderly, injured, disabled or pregnant people.
Don’t talk too loudly, don’t shout on the Underground. It’s not a social club. Keep it, keep it peaceful, if you can. Or you’ll Stuck it on, one of these trains underground, it’s not the most fantastic experience, don’t spoil it by shouting across the train at your friends. It’s just antisocial. Be a bit, be a bit considerate. OK? So: no antisocial behaviour. That’s pretty much it, that’s pretty much the…, pretty much the basic advice that we give. Now you could listen to the conversation between me and Oli, and Pasquale. And enjoy it. Do enjoy the conversation. And you’ll be able to listen to more episodes from ‘Luke’s English Podcast’ very soon. That’s it. Enjoy the conversation. Bye.
Mind the Gap. OK, let me start then by introducing my two guests here on the podcast today. To my right I have Mr Oliver Thompson.
– Hello
– Hello Oliver and Oliver is my cousin, is that true?
– That’s correct. My father is your father’s brother.
– My father is…. No, your father is my father’s brother?
– Yes.
– That’s not confusing at all, is it?
– No.
– So my Dad and his Dad are brothers, which pretty much makes us cousins. It does in fact.
– First cousins.
– First cousins exactly. And to my left I have Mr Pasquale Tro…., right?
– That sounds good.
– And so Pasquale. Where are you from exactly, in fact.
– I’m originally from Montreal, Canada. And I’ve been living in London for last three years now.
– OK. Right. I see. How’s London?
– Hmm, its amazing. I don’t know its difficult to sum up in a few words, but it’s a very busy city, it’s got lots of people, and lots of activities and I don’t know it’s up there in terms of cool things, cool places to live. Definitely
-Yeah, it’s one of the cool… No, lets face it, it’s one of the best places in the world.
– On planet Earth.
– Well, no. Just in the universe.
– In the universe.
– Yeah, better than. I mean apparently some of the planets that orbit Jupiter are pretty good, but I think none of them really compares to …
– Capital city like London.
– West London, specifically.
– Yeah.
– It’s better than everywhere else. So I thought that we would today talk about travelling around London because Oliver first of all, I know that you travel in the Underground a lot.
– I do.I’ve spent for the last 6 years. I’ve spent 2 hours a day on the London Underground. And I’ve got to know it very well indeed. And I have some top tips how to navigate and some etiquette about how one should behave on the London Underground.
– Yeah, yeah, yeah. OK. So I thought then we could just share those tips and look at, exactly what it’s really like travelling on the Underground. Pasquale, do you use the Underground much?
– Actually, I try to avoid it as much as possible, to be honest. But I do have some tips as well.
– Mainly: don’t use it.
-Really? Why? How come?
– Well, I have to say, it’s really hot, there’s too many people on it and it breaks down a lot.
– So you know, so instead I cycle.
– Right.
– Which means I save a lot of money too.
– Can you read when you’re cycling?
– No, coz you’ve got to concentrate so you don’t get run over by London’s crazy drivers.
– London’s buses, the other public transport.
– Yeah.
-Yeah, that’s right.
– But the best tip I have for cyclist would be for them to take up the entire lane. So that buses or vehicles can’t squeeze by you.
– How do you take up the entire lane on the bike?
– Just ride in the middle of the lane. And if they honk at you, tough.
– Like, so if you get (honking sound) then you kind of go like: So what? What are you going to do: run me over?
– Yeah, especially, in the best parts when they’re honking at you, and they’re rushing to get somewhere, right?
– But they’re just rushing to the queue of the traffic, so when they have to stop and wait at the traffic light, because it’s already traffic. That’s when you stop and you have to ask them: where are you rushing to? This spot right here, where you have to actually stop, can actually consume more gas. That’s when you flip them the bird and cycle away.
– Flip them the bird? What do you mean?
– Oh, that means giving them the middle finger.
– You give them your middle finger?
– No, as like a gesture.
– Right.
– Like you show them your hand and then you fold away all your fingers except for the middle one.
– Right, and that’s …
– That’s flipping the bird.
– Right you’re giving the bird sometimes
– Giving the bird.
– Giving the bird, yeah.
– Showing the bird.
– It’s an international gesture I think.
– I think yeah.
– I think it’s rude, I think it’s pretty much everywhere.
– Yes, certainly is, yeah.
– But you have to be able… The one thing, though, is you just don’t do it to anybody.
– Right. Who should you do it to?
– Old people coz you can get away from them faster.
– Children.
– Bus drivers coz they can’t get out of their cage.
– I don’t know, I’ve seen bus drivers get out of their little bus driver cage.
– Really?
– Yeah. They can leap out of those cages pretty quickly.
– They can flip everybody, every bus driver is basically on the edge.
– Yeah. Oh, who’s telephone is that? That’s my telephone, isn’t it?
– It’s your friend- Emina.
– It’s Emina calling me. OK. I’m gonna have to pause the podcast. Pause.
– OK, so we’re back. I paused the podcast, but if you’re listening you couldn’t have noticed. It’s the magic of editing. So then, can I just, maybe, we’ll just start again in a way coz we got caught up in a …tangent, didn’t we? So
– We went over-ground. That’s what happened.
– We did. We got lost on a bicycle. So Oliver, just let us know again how often do you use the Underground?
– So, I use, I live in Tooting which is where the Northern line in the south London and I have to travel to White City, which is on the Central line in West London. So I have to use the Northern Line and Victoria Line and the Central Line everyday . And that’s a journey of about 45 mins on a very good day. On a bad day, it could be hours, it could take all day.
– Right, and you work at the BBC, don’t you?
– I work at the BBC yeah, that’s right.
– I thought I’d add that. It sounds good.
– Give you some kind of credibility.
– Yeah, that,s right. And you Pasquale work at the BBC, too, don’t you?
– I just happen to yes.
– Wow, so two genuine actual BBC people on a free podcast.
– That’s right. That’s value for money.
– It is. It’s definitely.
– That’s your license fee and a little bit extra.
– That’s right. Pasquale you don’t use the Underground very often.
– No, I really try to avoid it actually. I’m lucky though. I work in White City as well and I live in the West London in Fulham by Chelsea stadium, the Old Stanford Bridge. So, because I live in West London I choose to cycle, which means a 20-minute cycle ride as opposed to an hour on a Tube of Death.
– But the cycling can be quite …
– The vessel of contagion?
– Right vessel of contagion
– The lymphatic cancer of, yes
– Of London
– Yes
– So you’re not a fan of the Underground
– No, but I have to con… with it so I have some tips on my own.
– Ok so lets focus on those tips, shall we?
– Ok
– So we’re going, in this podcast, you’re going to listen to us basically giving you some very important advice on how to use the Underground effectively, and how to not only survive your journey, but maybe enjoy it a little bit too.
– That’s right. This could be the key to your, to enjoying your London experience.
– Ok.
– Conquer the transport and you conquer the London.
– Ok, can I just also add here that we’re eating chocolate while recording this podcast. It’s probably not such a good idea to eat, to talk with your mouth full.
– True
– That’s not a coincidence, is it?
– You’re not supposed to talk with your mouth full in England, no.
– But that’s the beauty of radio
– Why?
– Coz you can’t see
– Yeah but you can certainly hear, it sounds like talking, like this: yeah(breaking a piece of choc off), well (munch) what I think, obviously, using the Underground.that’s not necessarily going to sounds good, is it?
– An excuse to eat some chocolate.
– You know what I am going to do?
– Take it away
– I’m going to take the chocolate away here.
– No.
– Its your fault, you brought it.
– I brought it in as a gift, but I’m taking that gift away from you now. You can have more chocolate when we finish. Right as like a…
– Like a dog, do your trick
– Yeah, yeah
– You’ll reward me with chocolate.
– I’ll give you a chocolate reward when it’s finished.
– Ok
– Right, so. Let’s just start by listing some bits of advice. So Oliver
– So some key advice: there’s two ticket option on the London Underground, so you can either have a paper ticket which you buy in the station and that takes time, you’re going to slot it into a little ticket hole in the gate and collect it at the other side and it holds up the flow with the passengers. So what you should do is buy an Oyster card, which is a plastic card and all you have to do is touch it at the gate and the gate is open. But before you get to the station, there’s two things you should do: you should make sure that you’ve got some money on your Oyster card, you can top up online and add money to your account, to your Oyster card account. And also make sure you’ve got it out of your pocket before you get to the gate, because otherwise you’ll get to the gate and you’ll have a queue of people behind you just crushing you slowly at the gate, as you’re trying to get out your Oyster card out of your pocket.
– Right, so yeah, go on.
– I don’t wanna be sexist but this particularly applies to women, who can spend 3 or 4 hrs going through their handbag, looking for their Oyster card at the gate, I’ve found.
– so can I just briefly summarize what you’ve just said? It might be useful to people listening to this, right? So we got two ways to buy the tickets: one os to buy paper ticket, one is to buy; paper ticket is a bit old fashioned now, isn’t it?
– It is.