Tube chat? Pipe down.

Published by The Huffington Post on 03/10/16


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Something terrible is happening to the Tube. Where once it was a place of solitude for the fatigued, if a bit sweaty, commuter, a sadistic group of right-on luvvies is attempting to turn it into a guitar-playing, poncho-wearing, dreadlock-sporting commune.

Yes, interspersed among us are a new tribe of conversationalists aimlessly wandering around Tube carriages with ‘Tube chat?’ badges. The idea is simple: taking inspiration from the ‘Baby on Board’ memorabilia, these insufferable trainsquatters want commuters to start, dare I say it, talking to one another.

Except the idea isn’t ‘simple’. The Tube isn’t some pop-up quinoa shop in Dalston where customers can freely rave about matcha tea and armpit hair with strangers. Rather, the Tube was designed to be a place of calm; a place where commuters can hit ‘Snooze’ for a few minutes everyday. If you’re not offering your seat to someone, pipe down.

Even Transport for London recognises this. It purposefully designs trains that rattle incessantly because it, too, recognises that the anti-social roaring of carriages prevents any meaningful conversation from taking place. This is 2016. Of course TfL could design quiet trains if it wanted to. Right guys?

The obnoxious virtue-signallers who designed the ‘Tube chat?’ badges aren’t the first to infringe upon our right to silence. They follow in the footsteps of another movement that encouraged people to walk around sporting badges with the campaign’s name, ‘I Talk To Strangers’ – a statement traditionally associated with a brief spell in Broadmoor.

‘The simple statement of ‘I Talk to Strangers’ makes you approachable without asking anything of the people around you,’ the campaign’s coordinator said, clearly forgetting that having a grinning nutter obsequiously saunter up and ask for your views on Corbyn’s re-election is the complete opposite of ‘approachable’.

It’s clear these people represent a generation disconnected from the stoic Englishman who spent his days glancing out the window, using his voice every hour or so to mutter at his crossword. ‘Silence is a true friend who never betrays,’ Confucius, the famous Londoner, once pronounced. The ‘Tube chat?’ brigade, unlike Confucius, have betrayed us.

The first batch of badges was handed out at – you guessed it – Old Street station. Representing the geographical manifestation of the silent Tube-traveller’s nightmare, not even an oversized pair of vintage glasses can shield you from Old Street’s countless pseudo-opinionated preachers.

Clearly we need a solution to the threat posed by the ‘Tube Chat?’ badges. And, unfortunately, demolishing Old Street station will only give its inhabitants something else to talk about.

I therefore propose that we allow these Tube infiltrators to keep wearing their badges. After all, they are a neat identifier for the kind of people who need to be muzzled.

So if you see someone getting onto your carriage with a ‘Tube chat?’ badge, neutralise their potential to break the silence by quickly smacking them in the voice box. Just don’t expect a round of applause from your fellow commuters. For after all is not said and done, the Tube is ultimately a place of silence.

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