The wheels on the bus go ‘Do you want a slap, blud?’

I realise there’s a bit of a culture in London for keeping your head down and saying nothing in the face of social disorder, but what I witnessed last night was a real eye-opener.

The Northern Line was down, so after sitting on the number 155 bus to Stockwell (my first London bus experience since moving here. It was…cosy), I got on the Victoria Line and headed towards Oxford Circus. There were two lads in the same carriage, shouting and play-fighting. Not a big deal. But one of them had his feet on the seat opposite, and when the next lot of passengers got on, a woman – maybe in her fifties – asked him to move so she could sit down. He duly did, but as soon as she had, he promptly kicked his feet onto her lap.

Of course, this woman was less than impressed, and told him in no uncertain terms to remove them.

‘No way, mate. I was here first. My seat for my feet.’

Unbelievable. Thus ensued an angry back and forth between the two, before another woman intervened. The situation escalated to the point where the original woman was crying, and this awful shit of a kid was standing over her, threatening to ‘give her a slap’.

There was probably about 30 people in the immediate vicinity, and at least half of them were men. And nobody said or did anything. Yes, I come from the countryside and yes, back in the glorious ‘Shire there’s a real sense of community and respect and yadda, yadda, yadda, but despite London’s enormous size and relative social isolation, I genuinely could not believe that not one single male could get up and help diffuse the situation.

So in the event I got up and put myself between this tedious prick and this poor crying woman.

‘Oh you want some too, do ya?’ he spat in my face. ‘Don’t think I won’t slap you too just ‘cos you’re a woman. Fuck off out of it or I’ll cut you. I know where you live.’

Sigh. ‘Do you? Really? Do you actually know where I live? Are you actually going to hit me, a woman, in front of all these people and on CCTV? Are you really?’

Eventually he sat down and left the woman alone. That didn’t stop him bleating on about ‘knowing where I live’ and ‘finding my family’ and all the rest of it, but at least he’d turned the volume down and had stopped being quite so aggro.

Mine was the next stop. The woman who’d been the catalyst behind all of this whispered a quiet ‘thank you’ as I left, but not one other single passenger dared to look up.

What kind of mindset is this? Is this something that happens to people after they’ve been in London for a while? They just become self-absorbed drones scuttling from A to B with no consideration for others? If so, tell me when I can expect that to happen and I’ll clear off well before then.



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13 responses to “The wheels on the bus go ‘Do you want a slap, blud?’

  1. Josh G

    Today I had to tell a chav mother to “Control your fucking child or leave it at home” because the little fucker kicked a pigeon into my face. I think I prefer the Westcountry’s definition of disruptive citizens…

  2. Claire Lawson

    Sadly thus is so true – I had two similar experiences when I lived in London. The first was when I felt ill on the tube and went to faint. Without looking up from their books, phones or navels everyone in my carriage neatly parted leaving a gap exactly the right size for me to land in. I crawled on to the platform at the next stop still without anyone so much as raising an eyebrow and half expecting the contents of my bag to be missing.
    The second incident of London hospitality and social duty, also on the tube, was when two football supporters decided to verbally abuse me, pull my bags off my shoulders and then start pulling my hair repeatedly. Sounds trivial but it seemed to be everyone else’s entertainment. Two coppers stood looking through the open doors from the platform. Embarrassed and scared I stood frozen. The weasels thought I was some posh barrister (surely even they don’t deserve that treatment?!) from the one semi-expensive item I then owned while working in a badly paid job – my coat, which managed to cover the rest of my moth eaten clothes. It only stopped when one man did what you did and stood between me and the weasels. He was my little hero just like you were someone’s today. I knew that day my love affair with London was over.
    Cheery huh.

  3. That’s disgusting. A similar thing happened on Bridgend station the other day. Three punkass kids (probably about 16) were sitting on the bench near a woman who looked like she was in her 50s-60s. They threw an empty packet of cigarettes across the station and the woman asked them to pick it up.

    I’d never heard anything so rude and aggressive before. They even started smoking and blowing the smoke near her face. I was on the phone at the time and was so glad to see a bunch of people sitting nearby intervene. There’s just no respect these days.

  4. I second Nathan’s comment.

    And good on you, Rach. Sometimes it only takes one person acting like a decent human being to remind others why they should do the same.

  5. Wow, some people really are just assholes. Much respect for stepping in Rach. Unfortunately this type of thing isn’t restricted to London, similar incidents are an unfortunately frequent sight on the Southampton-Poole train I get to work (usuaully aimed at the ticket chap).

  6. dreadful, my god. Reason 87 why I don’t want to move there.

  7. As an avid people-hater (which makes me sound awful and I’m really not that bad), you’ve captured a scene that isn’t all that’s wrong with London, it’s all that is wrong with people. As well as London, I’ve seen selfish behaviour like this in Birmingham and Manchester. In the latter, three of us took the offending chav down a couple of pegs and he got off the bus. In the former the gang of five youths came at me on the train. So I hit one of them and they left my wife and I alone. What is wrong with society when selfish behaviour and verbal and physical abuse are acceptable?

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  9. I hate when people don’t get involved. There is strength in numbers. I can understand being the first one up is tough but I’m shocked how the men didn’t join in with you.

    I also hate that it ihas to escalate to something before people finally jump in and help out. I saw two men fighting on the tube last year and one of the guys got his face smashed onto one of the poles. It cut the top left side of his head and blood was pouring out. Only when people noticed the blood did anyone bother to try help the poor man out.

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