Here’s a funny thing, the other day i was on a tube train just minding my own business like you do, checking out other peoples newspapers whilst internally judging them and generally minding my own business and I was thinking that people who don’t live in London (apparently there’s still a handful) don’t actually know what tubes trains is. Other people just call them trains. If you’re one of those other people, tubes are just like trains but they travel underground, it’s okay, they’re quite safe (bombs notwithstanding). On Virgin Trains free wi-fi will cost you £3.99 and then it doesn’t work, tubes have no wi-fi whatsoever either but it’s genuinely free. On the downside though a seat on the tube requires a massive deposit and is way beyond the means of most first time buyers. This is due to London’s population crisis, dubbed by the London media as: ‘The Population crisis of London.
The last time I got a seat on the tube was April the 17th 2008, I’ll never forget it because it was the day I last got a seat on on the tube. It was a gloriously sunny day and I’d camped out overnight outside Tufnell Park station. At 6:05am on the dot I was up as the doors of the station creaked open and I somehow fought my way through the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan to secure one entire seat all to myself. I still have the scrapbook to prove it.
That was until last Thursday when somehow I inexplicably got a seat. It was more luck than judgement to be honest. The tube had slammed its brakes on just outside Finsbury Park propelling an elderly lady from her seat and straight into a steel door, simultaneously I was thrown forward and landed on her very recently vacated seat. how’s your luck? What a time to be alive. I’d never been so happy.
Reader, my elation was short lived. For as I sat taking selfies to prove to people I’d secured my very own seat on a London tube train in 2015 I heard a gentle coughing sound just above me, I looked up to be greeted by the sight that all Londoners fear more than any other, a pale looking woman cupping her hands, coughing and hinting and pointing, her eyes all flickering and motioning towards her ‘Baby On Board’ badge. Oh for fucks sake I thought, what a kick in the balls. Imagine winning the Lottery and being diagnosed with terminal cancer two minutes later, it was that. “Would you like my seat?” I simpered through gritted teeth. She bloody took it too. From rags to riches to rags.
Look, I’m not saying anything here but she didn’t even look that pregnant. She was kinda plump all over, enjoys a cake or three plump, shall we say. Every time she looked up and caught my eye she offered a little grateful smile, I smiled back but tried hard to imbue my smile with a clear sense of deep suspicion, she didn’t care, she had a seat, why should she care?.
The other thing to point out is, and I’m not saying anything here, but there’s a lot of these badges on the underground these days, it’s almost as if, and I’m not saying anything here, but it’s almost as if London’s female population is feigning pregnancy just to secure a seat on public transport. Or worse, families are deliberately ‘trying for another child’ just so madam can get a bloody seat. No wonder there’s a population crisis.
Anyhoo, I promised myself that the next supposedly knocked-up hussy that demanded my seat would not get it before close cross examination and I didn’t have to wait long.
Two days later I was on the Piccadilly line when luckily an old man slumped to the floor suffering from heat exhaustion and I miraculously found myself in his seat. Two in a week. Unreal. Then three stops later it was like déjà vu all over again.
*cough, cough* “erm excuse me, I’m erm *motions at badge* … with child”.
– “really? That’s fantastic, when’s it due?”
“In June, why?”
– “Three months gone then, interesting”
“Can I just sit down please, I’m very tired”
– “Not so fast, lady, so you’ve already had two ultrasound scans then, correct?”
– “You’ll have my seat when I’ve seen a date encrypted print of your most recent ultrasound scan.”
“But I don’t have one on me”
– “Then you madam are a liar, what kind of expecting mother does not carry with her a photograph from her latest ultrasound scan?”.
I’d nailed her. She turned and fought her way through the train, humiliated and defeated, and with that the other passengers cheered and whooped deliriously, then a gang of racist Chelsea fans picked me up and carried me above their heads in triumph but that was only so one of them could nick my bloody seat. True story.
Anyway I’m gonna make some badges of my own …