Victoria Summerley: Town Life

Chatter among the child-rearing classes at London dinner parties tends to be dominated by three things: property prices, schools and transport. These days, property prices and the battle to find a place at a school have become genuinely terrifying, however, so the transport items tend to come as a bit of light relief.

Horror stories about how long you were stuck on a Northern line train in 40C heat, or how it took you two hours to drive 10 miles thanks to an alien spacecraft trying to do a U-turn on the Highway, in Wapping, or how many times they've dug up Thames Street in the past five years (my guess would be 23,546 times) - all these stress-in-the-city anecdotes are trotted out to an admiring audience.

This usually degenerates into that favourite London pastime of comparing routes. This will enthral the two people involved while the other guests slide into a wine-sodden stupor of boredom until the arrival of (a) the brandy or (b) the minicab. If you haven't experienced one of these conversations, they go something like this:

"Nah, nah," the first person will say (people seem to talk like a cross between a cabbie and Chris Tarrant when discussing routes), "I don't go through the Elephant. I cut down Landor Road, then back-double through Myatt's Fields, then across Camberwell New Road, then back-double to Albany, then straight across the Old Kent and . . ."

See what I mean? You're asleep already, aren't you? Commuters do it too. "Nah, nah," they say, "don't take the Northern line all the way to Goodge Street. Much quicker to change at Stockwell for the Victoria, then you can walk back from Warren Street."

The reason we Londoners are obsessed with these travellers' tales is because we have to endure the daily task of getting around the city. One friend visiting from Edinburgh admitted she'd always thought London Weighting meant London Waiting. She'd never seen it written down. On the other hand, she had just spent hours trying to get a Morden train on the Northern line.

But there are compensations. Particularly if you live in Wimbledon, apparently. I don't know what it is about that particular place - perhaps it's all the sexy tennis stars, or the balmy south-west-London air, or pheromones blowing around on the common, but if you're looking for romance, Wimbledon's public transport systems seem unusually able to provide it.

A former colleague of mine met his future wife on the Wimbledon branch of the District line. They'd noticed each other on the homeward journey each day and then, while stranded at Earl's Court waiting for a Wimbledon train that had been held up, they got chatting. They went for a drink and the rest is history (not to mention three children).

Sometimes, however, you have to be a bit more pro-active. Elaine, a friend of a friend, met her Mr Right on the 8.10 Southern Trains service from Haydons Road station in SW19. She had noticed that this gorgeous guy seemed to take the same train as her each day and desperately tried to think of a way to make contact. Trip him up? No, likely to result in serious injury. Spill coffee over him? No, for the reason given before, with the additional danger of expensive litigation.

So she wrote her e-mail address on a piece of paper, then manoeuvred herself into position close to Mr Eight-Ten just before she boarded the train. He was with three friends but, undeterred, she dropped the paper on the ground. And then she tapped him on the shoulder and said: "I think you dropped this."

Here's the clever bit. Instead of leaving him to pick up the piece of paper, thus running the risk that he might ignore her, or reply that no, it wasn't his, she picked up the precious scrap. She handed it to him then fled, her knees shaking, to a different carriage. That evening, he e-mailed her.

Elaine and Mr Eight-Ten (his real name is Grant) have now bought a flat together. So when they have dinner parties, they'll be able to talk about property prices and transport stories. One of these days they may even start talking about finding the right school.

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Hire Manager - Tool Hire

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is seeking someone w...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
Rugby World Cup 2015: The tournament's forgotten XV

Forgotten XV of the rugby World Cup

Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago