Last weekend I paid a visit to my one true love, London. It had been far too long. While there I did some shopping, took in a show, visited some attractions, took some pictures and conquered a fear. So you know, the usual, as you do on a weekend.
The little trip was a Christmas present from Mamma Smith to make up for the thoroughly crappy Christmas I had to endure while my leg was caged up. Oxford Street was rammed, the sun was shinning, Topshop was manic, Madam Tussauds was fun, Wicked was, well, wicked and the tube wasn’t half as bad as I expected it to be.
Yes that’s right fair readers, there is no need to put to use your contacts or spectacles, I said the tube wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be. Consistent readers of this blog or just readers with an impressive memory may remember a post I published about my love for our capital city (if you’ve never seen it or don’t remember it find it here.) In this post I identified three things about London, which I don’t love so much. These are; the expense, the pigeons, and the tube, which I said gave me the creeps.
I would like to take this opportunity to renounce the latter claim. Let it never be said that Jemm Frances won’t admit when she is wrong. The tube is not at all creepy but rather an underground warren of wonderfulness! Who knew that in just a few short hours I would be able to face my fear and be shuttled all over London with not so much as a whiff of tearful panic attack?
Now for live in Londoners and regular users of the tube this might not seem like such an amazing feat. But let me break this down so you all understand. There are certain things in life that I am inherently crap at and fundamentally clueless about. The majority of these things I can blame on Mamma Smith, god love her. Like my total ineptitude to even comprehend anything slightly mathematical. If it’s got numbers in it or on it then keep it the hell away from me. Or how about my inherited denseness when it comes to anything geographical. The phrase ‘geographically challenged’ doesn’t even touch the sides. This means I have no map reading skills and absolutely no sense of direction. If you blindfolded me in my own back yard I wouldn’t be able to find my house. Fact. And what really takes the cake is that my twin sister has managed to escape inheriting either of these crappy qualities. Mamma Smith saved them exclusively for me. Bless. (But since I got the good looks this kinda evens it out.)
I jest. I jest.
Bearing this in mind though, it shouldn’t be hard to imagine that up until last weekend the sheer thought of having to navigate the London Underground on my own (having Mamma Smith with me doesn’t count, she’s more useless than me when it comes to navigation) scared the Bejesus outta me. When faced with having to hitch a ride on the underground in the past I’ve left the responsibility in the hands of far more practical and capable people than I. Grabbed hold of whoever I was with in a kind of ‘close your eyes and hope for the best’ sort of way.
With my abysmal sense of direction and limited capacity for figuring these things out the tube always appeared as an impossible labyrinth, a hectic network I was doomed never to understand. Not being able to drive and with future hopes of making London my home this proved the teensiest bit problematic. So much as looking at a tube map made me panicky, it might as well have been in hieroglyphics for all the sense it made to me.
But on our little jaunt in London town I bit the bullet. It was long overdue. Being there with Mamma Smith meant that I didn’t have the luxury of leaving it to someone else. If we wanted to get the most out of our little trip instead of sitting in our hotel I needed to man up. So I did. (Metaphorically speaking.) I marched us down to Oxford Circus tube station, figured out the ticket machine and got us to Baker Street. Once this first little journey was complete FREEDOM WAS MINE! From here we went on excursions to Westminster, Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square and Covent Garden. I knew exactly where we needed to be each time. I figured out my Northbound from my Southbound and my East from my West. Never once did I get us on or off at the wrong stop. I followed the signs and neither the bustling crowds nor the entanglement of tunnels could confuse me.
We stayed in Zone One on this first attempt, as I didn’t want to get over adventurous and end up putting us on the Eurostar at St Pancras instead. But I figure if you’ve seen one tube station you’ve seem ’em all. The little that I achieved in those few short hours has given me a new found confidence and sense of independence. And with this new confidence, independence and my trusty iPhone tube map I reckon, no screw that, I know, I could get myself wherever I wanted to go in London without fear, worry or hesitation. Fearless. That’s me.
Dare I say it? I feel kinda proud of myself. On my first attempt, I’d managed to overcome something that’s been haunting me for years. Something I’d built up in my head to be so massively monumental turned out to be somewhat of an anti-climax. In fact, it was positively easy peasy. I kept my cool, used my noggin and cracked it. Hell, I didn’t just crack it; I was ALL over that shit.
Proud me. So I’m gonna look in the mirror and give myself a little bow. Oh yes I am. One more obstacle overcome and one less thing to waste my time worrying about. Anyone else who has overcome a fear I suggest you do the same.
The moral of this story?
That nothing is ever as bad or as scary as it first may seem.
So go on. What are you waiting for? Climb that mountain, swim that sea. I believe in you, I know you can do it. Keep calm, carry on and conquer that fear, then take a moment to basque in your sheer awesomeness. Because you hear that clapping? That’s me applauding you.
While I might have mastered the underground, my deplorable geography skills mean that I’m still f*cked above the ground. Oh well. One thing at a time eh?