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OPINION

Career down the tube?

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It doesn’t take much to bring out the eccentricity of the English. And a ban on drinking alcohol on London’s underground system achieved just that, as thousands of revellers gathered on trains and at tube stations in late May to mark the last day that it was legal to have a tipple 50 feet under London’s streets.

The foreign media got it all out of perspective of course, with the Wall Street Journal claiming drinking on the tube to be a long-standing tradition – one that had obviously passed by Euromoney’s editorial team, some of whom are known to sup the occasional pint. But they did pick up quintessentially English characters such as the man who had taped bottles of Strongbow to his fingers, and dubbed himself ‘Edward Ciderhands’ for the day.

The celebrations got slightly out of control. Some stations were shut due to overcrowding, while a number of arrests were made for public order offences, which included making derogatory chants at the expense of new London mayor, Boris Johnson, who had decreed the ban as one of his first major policy initiatives.

Police were amazed at how many people joined the festivities. But they should not have been.

The ‘Last day of drinking on the Tube’ party was set up through social networking site Facebook. And the key organiser turned out to be one Alexandre Graham, an employee of Royal Bank of Scotland.

Now, RBS does not like media coverage at the best of times, and it has not exactly been having those lately as it goes cap in hand to shareholders for £12 billion of new capital. So its austere bosses might not be best pleased with Graham’s name, and the bank’s, appearing on the front page of London evening newspapers. Graham, reported London Lite, "feared dismissal".

Of course, this is all irrelevant to most long-suffering London commuters. They’d much rather the tubes ran on time than ran dry.

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