lowbrowculture

collects stories and ideas from John Kelly

Fire on the metro

You know, it’s getting to the stage where I’ve got half a mind to rename this blog to “lowbrowcultureshocked”.

Today, I was up at the Irish College to get a mass card for an aunt who died recently. To get home, I decided to get the Metro at the Colosseum. Now, I should probably explain that there are two metro lines in Rome. Metro A has been recently revamped and now all the trains and most of the stations are pretty. Metro B, on the other hand, is dingy and ugly. All the trains are covered in graffiti outside and covered in piss and various other bodily fluids inside.

Colosseum is Metro B.

I’m in the station waiting for the Metro to arrive. It’s around lunchtime, so there’s not a lot of tourists leaving yet - they’re all inside the Colosseum, baking and sweating and wearing funny hats. The sign says there’s a train in three minutes. I drift back off into the dreamworld I go to when I’m wandering around Rome listening to my iPod (travel tip: this is the only way I have found to not constantly lose my shit at the lack of an orderly queuing system in Italy). Gradually, I start to smell smoke. I’m looking around, a couple of other people are sniffing too. But there’s no obvious fire, so no major panic yet. Then we get the buildup of wind that precedes a train coming down the line. Suddenly the train screams past as if it’s being chased by the devil himself. It’s totally dark except for the one carriage that is completely ablaze.

My mouth was still hanging open by the time the next train arrived. All the Italians shrugged as if this was entirely unremarkable and went back to wearing their giant sunglasses and looking like Hugo Boss models.