Stop! Or we’ll, er, do Something…

The even tenor of my journey home was interrupted this evening by the muffled sound of an Englishman trying to have an altercation with a foreigner. The SouthWest Trains guard, backed up by another SouthWest Trains person of uncertain status (but a lot of chequered braid on his hat), was telling the Russians* behind me to get their feet off the seats. The Russians were refusing, on the grounds that there weren’t any signs saying they couldn’t have their feet on the seats. The guards then tried to kick them off the train at Queenstown Road but the Russians weren’t having any of that either, and just sat their with their arms folded and their feet (temporarily) off the seats, laughing at them. After a certain amount of ‘get off the train’ ‘no’ ‘get off now’ ‘no, I have a ticket’ ‘come on get off’ ‘no’, the guards discovered some other urgent task that needed their attention far away from any pesky (and rather burly) foreigners and the Russians put their feet back up and got off at their leisure at Vauxhall.

Much as I hate people putting their feet on the seats, I couldn’t decide whether or not they had a point about the sign thing. On the one hand, some trains do have signs up asking you not to, so I suppose that could be taken as meaning there were feet-putting-up carriages and non-feet-putting-up carriages the way there used to be smoking and non-smoking ones. But then again, there aren’t any signs up asking passengers not to spit, or vandalise the train, or murder each other and that’s not generally taken to be tacit permission to do so. Do we need to have signs up about absolutely everything? If I was in charge there wouldn’t be room on the windows for everything I’d like to outlaw: putting your feet on the seat, littering, not moving your legs out of the way when people want to get past, putting your bag on the seat, phone sex, being openly fifteen … the list is endless. Perhaps a set of icons could be drawn up like they used to have in swimming pools – no dive-bombing, no petting, no boasting about your ski-ing holiday. Or perhaps one big all-purpose ‘don’t be a w*nker’ sign, with a suitable illustration, although I can’t imagine what that would be.** Meanwhile the guards should probably brush up on their kicking-out skills in readiness for the new regime, or else learn from parents or anyone who has to deal with small children: choose your battles.

* Well, Russian-ish, anyway. They were speaking among themselves in a language that sounded as though it ought to be Russian

** Suggestions on a postcard to someone else, please.


7 responses to “Stop! Or we’ll, er, do Something…

  1. it’s so neat and tidy in Switzerland that when anyone does something as outlandish as putting their feet on seats then they place a newspaper under their feet first. I am not joking.

  2. Now there’s a use for the Metro. I was wondering what it was for …

  3. I do think people over-react to feet on seats. Obviously it’s not acceptable if somebody else wants to sit in, or is already sitting in, the seat. Assuming that this isn’t the case, however, the objection seems to be on grounds of hygiene. Now, if one’s footwear is likely to leave actual grime behind on the seat, which could in turn blemish the attire of a future occupant, then that’s likewise a no-no. But most people on urban commuter trains don’t have actual dirt on their shoes, apart from the occasional builder, vagrant or Dick Whittington-style shitkicker. There are germs, of course, but there are germs everywhere and it is reasonable to expect commuters to wash their hands quickly after each journey, regardless.

    All in all it’s an issue best addressed by circumstantial application of common sense rather than window-sticker edicts. I agree with you about the phone sex and public adolescence, though.

  4. hmm I probably agree that it’s a battle not worth fighting, but where do you draw the line on feet on seats next to the one you are sitting in? Or feet reluctantly removed from the seat you’re about to sit on, accompanied by a resentful glare? That’s when the thought of all the dog crap there is on the streets of London begins to prey on my mind.

  5. Heheh I cant imagine what my response would of been such a situation.

    Common sense, and it has to said courtesy, should of told the Russians they were in the wrong, and after trying their luck kept their feet down.

    Personally I am a BIG detractor of the Nanny State and the amount of control that is liberally being smothered over every aspect of our lives here in the UK; but still people DO NEED to respect society and those around the.

    I bet not a single passenger on the train said a word in protest either, it’s the way of the world these days.

    Let the government say and do everything, while the sheep go blindly on their way ignoring everything and everyone with the exception of the shops and their advertisements


  6. Was there any signs saying they couldn’t help maintain the white slave trade thorugh extortion torture, violence and fear?

    Thought not!

    That’s who is to blame; the rail networks!

  7. Hyperion – we didn’t say much but we were giving them Very Hard Stares Indeed.

    Tomato – you’re right. They forgot to put signs up about not invading small helpless countries, emitting greenhouse gases or overfishing the Atlantic Cod fishery either. Damn these train companies, damn them I say.

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