True Gripes: Down the Tube: Metropolitan nightlife - but no metro

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The Independent Online
Two in the morning, The Buzzcocks and These Animal Men have finished their London Astoria gig, I've done some half-hearted obligatory ligging and now I'm shivering on the corner of Oxford Street trying to get a cab.

Tottenham Court Road Tube is right next door but it's been closed for hours. As taxi after taxi with its lights off passes me, I imagine buying my ticket, getting on the Tube, and being in my bed, snug and warm. Another cab passes and I'm still a lone girlie standing in the rain with a broken heel, and a broken promise to be back by 2.30am, which I would be if the f***ing Tube was running. Two of the things I love most about London are going to concerts and travelling on the Underground. The Jam, Madness and Blur have all sung the Tube's praises. You may have been to see them in concert but I bet you could not get the Tube home afterwards. Instead you have to fork out for a cab.

I really am reliable about being home when I say I will, but you just can't count on the taxi service feeling the same way.

An excellent night at Smashing at Rascals on Regent Street was marred by the girl I was with being grounded for a month for getting home at 5am. We had been trying to get a cab for two hours.

This is ridiculous. London is supposed to be a metropolitan city. There are clubs that don't close until 6am, there are ligs to be enjoyed until hours later and yet the Underground tells us that this town is no go after midnight. In New York, you may or may not want to travel by the Subway, but if you do, at least it's open all night. Safety wise, I don't worry about the Underground.

We are generally the scariest things on the Tube - a gaggle of loutish teenage girls in skirts our mothers didn't want us to wear, the lords of the Underground. The Tube home should be as much fun as the night out itself.

I feel much more uncomfortable about taxis. If you were to be stuck with one of the rare nasty drivers we've read about, there's not a lot you could do.

A lesser danger is that they'll talk to you, which pisses me off if my ears are already ringing from Hooligan's feedback. And, of course, I really do want to hear about cricket, how 'darkies are taking our jobs', and your scabby children. No, I do.

I remember feeling as if I finally had my freedom once I learned to use the Tube. My mother figured that if I could work out how to get from one place to another then I could go where I wanted to, within reason and safety, and so long as I called her every four-and-a-half minutes to tell her I was okay.

So I can use the Tube but it closes at midnight. It's just another Catch 22 out to cut short my adolescent revelries.