Sep 192013

Jude Rogers

Whitechapel station, for some time now, has been a peculiar place. Try to find a train northbound for Dalston Junction, or southbound to New Cross, for instance, and you’ll chance on a sign for the Overground, a name that might suggest futuristic monorails or fresh-air outdoor thrills or the glorious sunniness of above-the-earth transport.

Anywhere else, yes, but not at Whitechapel. Here, every Overground arrow points downwards, into the bowels of the earth.

At the far end of the District Line’s westbound platform is something else too – a rectangular clue to other mysteries that might be found. Its presence suggests that the Overground may be underground in Whitechapel (and, indeed, Wombling free) for a reason… a reason that may involve logic of a mathematical, scientific or even quantum-shaped kind.

What’s more, perhaps the surfeit of fashionable fellows in the area wearing de mode vintage jackets and jaunty bow ties may not be due to the close proximity of Shoreditch’s overpriced jumble sales. Perhaps their dazed expressions have nothing to do with Indo’s heady real ale either, but say more about how it feels to leap between different centuries after a hefty curry at Preem. And maybe there are male Doctors in the area not practising at the Royal London, after all.

I’ve also heard these chaps saying they’re too cool for mobile phones, with a wry, careless flop of their intergalactic fringes. But, then again, why have o2 or EE when you could simply walk to the end of this platform, near the front of the train, lift a receiver, hear the rumble, and travel in time?
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