Cen­tral Line to suc­cess

The Jewish Chronicle - - Comment & Analysis - Peter Rosen­gard

IN THE 60S I grew up on the Cen­tral line be­tween East Ac­ton and Ox­ford Cir­cus. We lived in East Ac­ton and I played foot­ball with the Charge fam­ily who lived on the huge coun­cil es­tate that stretched all the way back to the White City sta­dium. Luck­ily for me, Mrs Charge only had 10 sons, so I be­came a vi­tal ad­di­tion to the team. I was al­ways the one left over and the two cap­tains would toss for me: “Tails! You lose! You’ve got Rosen­gard!”. But to get back on track... the Cen­tral Line. I spent my teenage years tak­ing the Tube ev­ery Satur­day night from East Ac­ton to Ox­ford Cir­cus, head­ing for the St Anne’s Club in Shaftes­bury Av­enue or the Whisky A Go Go dis­cotheque.

Once, I was the only per­son in the car­riage and I had the good luck to sit op­po­site a skin­head who stared at me. Be­tween White City and Shep­herd’s Bush he sud­denly shouted: “Oi! You look­ing at me?” “Were we at school to­gether?” I asked. At that mo­ment the train pulled into the sta­tion and at the last sec­ond I made a dash for the doors. He came af­ter me but he was just too late. They say tim­ing is ev­ery­thing in life: some­times it is life. I’ll never for­get the farewell ex­pres­sion on his face pressed against the glass doors as the train moved off. I could tell he missed me. I be­came a life in­surance sales­man in 1969 and sold my first pol­icy to the guard in the last car­riage of an east­bound Cen­tral Line tube leav­ing Ox­ford Cir­cus. (He never stood a chance – he couldn’t get off.) By the time he signed up we were in Up­min­is­ter, and I was only go­ing to Hol­born. In re­cent years I’ve been zoom­ing round town on my red Vespa. But when it comes to get­ting quickly from the West End to the City, there’s still noth­ing to beat the Cen­tral Line. Of­ten I’ll be fin­ish­ing my break­fast at Claridge’s and I’ll call a client in the city. “I’m round the cor­ner. I can drop by in five min­utes,” I say, throw­ing my nap­kin to one side with su­per­hu­man strength and sprint­ing out of the din­ing room like Usain Bolt.

Thirty sec­onds later I’m at Bond Street, hurtling to­wards Bank, and five min­utes later I’m with my client. I can hon­estly say I owe my en­tire busi­ness suc­cess to The Cen­tral Line.

Last Tues­day around noon I was head­ing for the City. In a packed car­riage full of strap-hang­ing tourists I was squashed be­tween the doors and a group of four pretty girls in their twen­ties who were hap­pily chat­ting away in what sounded to me like He­brew.

A Goth girl with dyed black hair and nose pierc­ings shouted at them: “Oi, if you want to talk about me, talk about me in my own lan­guage.”

“You’re para­noid!” I said to her. “They’re not talk­ing about you. They’re say­ing how won­der­ful Lon­don is and how friendly ev­ery­one is here.”

That shut her up, and I al­most got a round of ap­plause from my fel­low pas­sen­gers. I leant to­wards the group and asked: “Are you from Is­rael?” “Yes,” they said. “Shalom,” I said. “I haven’t a clue what you were say­ing. For all I know you might have been talk­ing about her or the price of fish.”

Yes, I owe big thank you to Lon­don Un­der­ground.

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