28. Urban Legends Of The Underbelly!
Urban legends are often vague, friend-of-a-friend tales (FOAFtales) similar to ‘Chinese whispers’, in that they are distorted, exaggerated and through generations of storytelling, they become myth, embedded in our society.
For the last fifty or more years there has been a sinister legend pertaining to the London Underground that a mysterious, possibly caped figure, lurks in the cold tunnels, and is known for the ghastly act of pushing people in front of oncoming trains, usually at night. Whether this terror is mere rumour we’ll never know, because we do occasionally hear of people splattered on the rails, but whether a phantom killer is roaming the more remote platforms remains unknown.
Another classic urban legend to exist in the passageways beneath the capital emerged during the mid-1800s and remains one of London’s most obscure mysteries, yet echoes a more potent urban myth that has plagued New York’s sewer system since the early 1900s, being the possibility that alligators inhabited the murky waterways and pipe systems, feeding on rats and garbage. In the case of London’s inhabitants, there is a rumour that in 1851 beneath Hampstead, feral pigs, or hogs were prowling the depths of the sewers! Legend has it that a pregnant sow somehow ended up trapped in the gloomy tunnels, giving birth to a happy litter of excrement swilling, offal consuming offspring, even more ferocious than their known relatives that may have inhabited some nearby yard.
Sceptics argued that such animals had never been seen or heard to grunt through the drain grates, but believers in such quirky tales claimed that the reason for this elusive behaviour was simply down to the Fleet ditch, which, once encountered from the mouth of the sewer at the riverside, would have flushed the piggies back to their lair after failed attempts to swim against the rapids.
If only pigs could fly!
By Neil Arnold (Sources: www.snopes.com)
Picture taken from re-Verse’s Flickr photostream under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 licence.