From the mechanical crack below us to the flickering lights in the next carriage it was obvious that the tube was in trouble. Soon after the lights in our own carriage suddenly gave in, the train ground to a halt and all signs of power were gone. That's not entirely true of course; once our ears had adjusted it became clear that the silence was only apparent. From along the seats came the tiny, tinny voices crying and rhythmically clattering for attention, the audition stages of a reality show in a collapsed building. But one by one these voices were extinguished as screens lit up in the hands of my fellow passengers, the dancing lights a shrine to the music, pop star the angels.
Conversation was conducted in whisper at first. Partner leaned in to partner with comforting words, pecks and strokes. 'Fuck's sakes' could be heard from commuters checking their phones for a signal just to find another reason for irritation. Somewhere in the dark a joke was told and then, at failing to get a reaction, an expletive thrown.
How long we sat there none can tell. The smartest phone in the world can't tell you how long 10 minutes in the dark in a 15 foot tunnel under thousands of tonnes of Islington takes, but after some indeterminable period it was over.