Each week, we ask a FACE contributor to break down their biggest ick. Check out previous columns here.
Yesterday, I had to contend with the information that someone I had sent naked photographs of myself to was the proud owner of a scarf.
Not just any scarf, although wearing a load of wool around your neck in late May is enough of an ick to warrant its own rant. It was a scarf in the seat print of London’s newly opened Elizabeth Line. Official Elizabeth Line merchandise. So, a train-inspired accessory. Being worn with a smile on the Crossrail by a man I’ve willingly allowed to see my crown jewels. Dark days.
When it comes to icks, I think we’re entering a culture of oversaturation. A culture where icks are flippant and pettiness reigns supreme.
For example: how would you shorten the name of Coronation Street? Corrie? Yes? Correct. A guy I’m dating abbreviated Coronation Street to “Corro” in casual conversation the other day. I stopped dead in my tracks, my stomach turned, I felt a general wave of discomfort – I had the ick. But did I actually? No. The sheer horror of someone saying “Corro” is an ick, but I don’t HAVE the ick.
Overenthusiasm for the Elizabeth Line, on the other hand, is not one of these flippant, oversaturated icks. It’s the kind of all-consuming ick that I could never look past, no matter how hard I try. If I see the slightest whiff of a purple circle on your Instagram story… you’re going the right way to getting muted. If I see a countdown to its opening date and time, then see you in the queue, like you’re waiting to go on Oblivion at Alton Towers – blocked, mate, with immediate effect.
Since I feel so strongly about this, I think perhaps it would be wise to unpack why publicly expressing excitement for the Elizabeth Line is the supreme ick in my universe this week. The whole thing just reeks of the Conservative Party. Actually, let’s call a spade a spade: it radiates Tory. Public transport is for everyone, but whether or not it’s the slavishly regal livery, there’s an aura of the Elizabeth Line that feels for the few rather than the many.
Tory undercurrent aside, I also found my ick for Elizabeth Line enthusiasm increase tenfold as I’ve watched a bizarre corner of Gay Twitter try to make Crossrail camp.
I regret to inform you that the opening of this line is not camp. We do not claim it. Tweets like “just another gay having my first ride on the Elizabeth Line” have been too regular for my liking. Nothing about this line deserves the hallowed blessing of being reclaimed as queer. For one, it’s titled the Elizabeth Line, and it might be the Platinum Jubilee but I’ve had enough of the R*yal F*mily for one lifetime.
Now, if it was called the Diana Line, I would be open to a conversation about how Crossrail is something for gay people to get giddy about. If it was named the Kristen Stewart Should Have Won An Oscar For Spencer Line, I’d be willing to lead that conversation in a board meeting discussion.
But it’s not. And that’s why I’m cascading into an icky descent of despair.
I think when we really get down to it, though, the reason why I truly get the ick for Elizabeth Line overenthusiasm, is because it all revolves rather heavily around London.
London is the city where I live, but London is not my home. The north is my home. London does the job for now, but it doesn’t exactly give me a big hug, make me a brew and give me a couple of biscuits. London to Londoners is the centre of the world, and Crossrail is the latest, most ostentatious example of more money being spent in the capital to improve transport whilst my friends and family up north have to wait for a bus that comes every half an hour, charging them the best part of a fiver for the privilege of a single trip.
So, no thank you – I’ll get giddy about the Elizabeth Line when cities north of Finchley get a few pennies invested in them. I think that sounds fair.
Until that day, you can marvel at some shiny station platforms. You can gush over a purple colour scheme. You can sit on seats that are not yet covered in piss, sick and shit, stroking your on-message tribute scarf. But I’ll politely decline your offer of a date until you realise that you’re just sat on the Tube. And until you, with respect, get a life.