12 February, 2009


Playing by the rules in the Multiculture

I mislaid my Old Fool's Pass the other day, which meant that, honest law-abiding geezer that I am, I had to buy a normal ticket to get about. Just as well that I didn't succumb to any subliminal temptations to wing it, for as Karma would have it, the trains were crawling with ticket inspectors - or railway enforcement officers (REOs) as they are now known - on that day.

And they netted a fair old haul.

Let's see. There was the Indian chap to whom the lady REO was patiently explaining that "ticketless travel" is an offence in the UK too as she fined him £20.

There was the Nigerian lady who seemed to think that although her ticket had run out the day before she was entitled to a day's grace. As I have observed before, this seems to be a common misconception in our resident Nigerian community.

Then there was the Black lad at Cutty Sark DLR who, as the waiting phalanx of ticket inspectors hove into view beyond the top of the escalator, suddenly changed his mind about getting off there. I haven't seen anybody move so fast in quite a while. Now I know that people of West African heritage excel in the 100m sprint, but if running down the up escalator were to become an Olympic sport, I'll bet they'd do pretty well at that too.

The REOs in SE London used to be overwhelmingly west indian gents in their fifties (or older)- and most of the freeriders they used to net were much younger 'afro carribeans'.I expect, sadly,that many of these older guys are now retired back to Barbados.
Was the lady REO you spotted pale complexioned by any chance ? If she was, that'll mean another downward ratchet in 'community cohesion'.

The lady REO was indeed a person of pallor, although I did encounter a middle-aged officer of the West Indian persuasion the other day and had a pleasant chat with him about his "clientele".

All lads of spirit try to bunk fares.

You talk about being old, Edwin Greenwood, but were you ever young?

I'd estimate that the people described in the post were respectively in their 30s, 40s and in the case of the "Black lad" early 20s. That's a bit beyond the teenage rebelliousness / testing the limits / lads of spirit stage, I'd say. These folk were old enough to know better.

There wasn't a lot of scope for fare dodging when I was a kid in Manchester. 99% of travel was by bus, and all the buses had eagle-eyed conductors (or 'guards' as they were called in that part of the world) with phenomenally good memories. Perhaps I'm just jealous.

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