For hundreds and indeed thousands of us, public transport, and in particular the London Underground, aka the tube, aka a moving metal armpit, is our primary means of transport and this can be arduous, to say the least. Well, no more!
If you don’t have a Kindle on which to read the latest formulaic Dan Brown, fear not, you won’t be bored on your tedious commute any more with this exciting set of tube games. You can not only have a blast while you travel but you can involve fellow passengers and brighten their day too.
Don’t worry if you’re not local to London, you can play these games on most trains and even on some buses. You also won’t need expensive equipment, just a few simple household items that should be readily at hand. All games are for a minimum of 1 player and can even be played in teams of up to 30 or 40. How exciting!
1. Ticket Gate Conga
See how many people you can get to form a cheery early morning conga line behind you at the ticket gate by waiting until you are stood directly at the barrier before starting the search through the entire depths of your pockets and cluttered bag for your ticket. Extra points gained for trying to use an invalid ticket and a bonus point for each time you repeatedly try inserting this ticket before an official assistant ruins play. Don’t start reaching for your ticket on the approach to the ticket gate, this ruins the element of surprise for everyone involved and cuts playing time.
2. Tube Rugby
This fun and physical game sees you trying to rugby tackle your way onto a crowded carriage before any of the other ‘players’ have got off. Lose a point for letting anyone else get on before you do as well as for anyone getting off. Gain bonus points for every foot you step on while in the scrum. It is recommended that you sharpen your elbows for this game and a Junior version can also be played by using your children as small battering rams to force your way through the train doors and the human wall formed by the opposing team.
3. Paper Peeper
You no longer need to take up valuable room in your briefcase by carrying your own book or newspaper when travelling, simply play this literary game whereby player one has to try to read as much of player two’s book or paper before player two turns the page. Don’t be self-conscious here, get a good lean in towards your fellow gamesman. If they perform an evasive manoeuvre such as tilting the reading material away from you, simply lean in further. Traditional Kensington rules dictate that actually holding the edge of your opponent’s page is frowned upon, however, reading out loud is perfectly acceptable.
4. Name That Tube Tune
This game requires an MP3 player or mobile phone with tinny loud speaker. Crank the volume on your music playing device to ‘oh-dear-god-my-teeth-are-rattling’ and sit back, nodding your head with all the attitude of one who has Snoop Dogg round to iron their underpants. Your opponents at the other end of the carriage have to guess from the metallic “tink, tink, tink, ticka-ticka, tink, tink, tink” what you’re listening to. Bonus points for styling it out when Justin Bieber comes on due to shuffle mode being active.
5. Handbag Chicken
See how long you can keep your handbag on an empty seat before being asked to remove it. This game has been played since the days of Queen Victoria and in fact, it was because of her fondness for the game that the Victoria Line was named after her. Don’t worry that you only purchased one ticket, this automatically entitles you to another free seat for your hand luggage and the reason for the other players standing there looking at you like you just poked a kitten in the eye is because they’re envious of your steely nerves and regal determination in this game if wits.
6. Arm Rest Wrestling
This game requires a minimum of 2 players who must be seated next to each other. The aim of the game is to gain sole control of the arm rest without acknowledging the other player. Brute force can be applied here but don’t worry if you’re not overly blessed in the arm muscle department, stealth can be called upon too and a common technique from the Paddington School of Arm Rest Wrestling is to flick your newspaper open as wide as possible, right into your opponent’s face and, with each turn of the page, gain an extra few millimetres of arm rest territory. If you find this version too easy, why not see how far you can get your elbows into your neighbour’s seating area. Don’t worry if they start fidgeting, they’re just getting excited because they’ve started playing the same game with their neighbour on the other side.
7. Who Nose?
Another guessing game here but this time using the olfactory senses. Get your fellow passengers involved in a classic game of guesswork as you eat a mystery item, selected for its quick-release stench and ability to fill a small metal room in seconds. If it doesn’t fill the entire space then it’s not really very fair on all the players as they don’t get the same amount of time to guess what it is you’re enjoying. Examples of classic consumables that have been used in this game include curry, a hard boiled egg and garlic sausage. If you forget to pack your pongy picnic items, don’t worry, a silently launched cloud of digestive vapours from a discreetly cocked cheek will do just as well and the captive audience always enjoys the trickier task of working out what you had for dinner last night.
8. Tube Skittles
This game can only really be played on a very crowded train as multiple players are required. You will also need a heavy rucksack or handbag and the aim of the game is to launch your bag onto your shoulder, taking out as many fellow players or “skittles” as possible. Mrs Warner-Phlaps of Tooting managed to swing her bag in a full 1.7 meter arc on the 08:20 to Barking in May 2007 and set a new Tube World Record for knocking out 12 of her fellow players.
9. Size Matters
This crazy game can be played as a family or on your own. It is a true test of your mental and physical faculties. You must select the heaviest and bulkiest of objects and carry it across the rail network at rush hour without chickening out and using a taxi. Families often like to play this with a matching set of luggage due the varying sizes enabling the youngsters to join in, tripping up their opponents boarding the train with the smaller items while mum and dad can use the larger cases to start an impromptu conga line at the top and bottom of staircases. Bonus points for creativity here so a full orchestra off for a winter holiday, complete with skis, double bass and kettle drums would win over a couple returning from Ikea with a set of Billy bookcases.
10. Automatic Door Dash
Don’t worry about this game causing a slight delay to your fellow passengers, they will understand once they know that you’re playing a jolly old game of Automatic Door Dash and they will be thrilled that you didn’t wait for the next train that is a whole 2 minutes away, so they could join in the fun. The player must wait until the automatic door has started beeping, which is the signal to run towards the train from 10 meters away. Once the doors have started to close, the player must launch themselves towards the ever narrowing space and attempt to board the train whilst ensuring that some part of their person or belongings are wedged in the door, enabling them to move on to round two, which is to have a tug-of-war with the doors, only winning if they manage to free themselves before the driver intervenes. To play as a group, one of the team must move ahead of the other players and take up position as Forward Wedge and stand holding the doors from the first beep, allowing the team to leisurely access the carriage until the very last player is in position for round two to commence.
I hope that these highly amusing games brighten your commuting and that by playing them, you make many new friends on your travels as you spread joy to all you encounter. I have listed the top ten tube games here but there are many more to be discovered such as the outrageously fun “I’ve Dropped My Coffee, Pull The Alarm”, the ever popular “Sniffle-No-Tissue, Cough-No-Hands” and who can resist sitting firmly in their seat as they indulge in a spot of “Is She Pregnant or Just Fat”.
Feel free to share some of your own family favourites so that other readers can try giving them a go. Oh, and don’t bother trying to sue me if you get punched squarely in the chops whilst mid-play. If this happens then you clearly haven’t been adhering to the Piccadilly Code Of Conduct. Obviously.