Monday, November 22, 2010

The Lady and the Tram(p)

Vivienne Claybottom’s handy guide to public transport.

While one may look upon public transport as shuttles for commoners, smelly canisters of steel on wheels disastrously decorated with the dirt of the masses and the urine of the homeless, it is still not entirely correct to thumb one’s nose. Being conscious of the need for a greener planet is the second most noble thing behind knowing how to slap the help without leaving a mark, so with this guide to public transport, it might be time to lose the chauffeur and make the train, tram or bus your first stop on the way to environmental sainthood (because who wants to stand in line to get into heaven?)

Buying a ticket:

You will need a ticket to embark on public transport. To pay to have one’s face hurtled into the armpit of a malodorous commoner at the speed of a North African cheetah might seem odd, but without a license to travel you’re no better than a common criminal, or the Dutch.

Whenever possible, purchase your ticket from the attendant located behind the ticket window. One cannot put a price on human interaction, even if said human winks while handing you your change. Additionally, by going to the ticket window you’ll avoid having to touch the buttons on the automated machines, which as we all know, are besmutted by the fingers of the poor, the wretched, and those who don’t know how to speak English.

Try to have the correct change ready and not jingle-jangle through your coin purse, an action which broadcasts an opera of poverty. While paying a fare with a large note is sometimes problematic, it is yards more dignified and thus should always be attempted, even at peak hour. Just don’t get too flashy about it, or your ticket money will certainly be accepted – by a man in a beanie holding you at knifepoint.

Note: it is not customary to tip the ticket salesperson.


When walking down the stairs to your train platform, keep your chin high and your lady cave shielded from the view of those looking upwards with smutty intent. As you will certainly have an audience (you gorgeous creature) it is helpful to pretend you are descending the staircase of a grand ball, attended by the likes of princes, business magnates and Colin Firth – from the days when he was sexually ripe, of course. However, as public handrails are hot spots for the transmission of HIV and dyslexia, one should stay on the safe side and keep one’s hands clasped just below the sternum, or fiercely over one’s purse.

Bins have long been absent from train platforms, meaning the commuters will have nothing to scrounge through and might attempt a dialogue. No matter what form the transport – train, bus or tram – try not to be drawn into conversation. If somebody asks you for the time, it’s likely they are trying to steal your watch, so it’s best to either play deaf or alert security by shouting ‘rape’ at the top of one’s lungs.

When the transport arrives, ever so gently punch your way to the front and try to get on first, without being coddy-fondled by ham-fisted brutes or poked in the back of the legs by the walking frames of the elderly. Once onboard, scan the area for a seat devoid of chewing gum, wet patches or a person of the orient, lay out a kerchief and sit yourself down. Read a book to demonstrate your literacy.

It is inevitable that, on occasion, you will have to stand when no seats are available and no gentlemen are present to proffer their seats, only smelly bearded masturbators who remain sitting on their hindquarters wearing shirts made of 90% polyester and 10% cheeseburger. In the event of a standing commute, hold onto a handle or pole below the level of the waist with one hand, and keep the muscles in the face relaxed. Too often have I seen young ladies gripping an overhead pole with both hands, swinging about the carriage like boobtubed orang-utans, their faces distorted into a silent scream as if they’ve just received word that Supre has discontinued the Jegging.

Over the duration of the commute, if a gentleman is present and makes flirtatious eye contact, the first thing one must consider is what route one is on. If it’s the City or North Shore line, and the man is sporting an immaculate coif and a Windsor knot, subtly return his gaze and allow the flirtation to run its course. If you’re on the Western line, express immediate disinterest by turning back to your book or changing seats or carriages. In either of the scenarios, if you are followed off the bus, train or tram it is best to respond with surprise violence by releasing your 2000-volt pocket taser right into the eye socket.


There’s only one rule when it comes to alighting public transport: get off as quickly as possible and head straight to a lavatory to wash your hands. When travelling to meet somebody or attend an appointment, walk around the block so as to appear to have come from the opposite direction of the bus stop or the station. During the meeting, constantly complain about the fact that your chauffeur smells of a bean-burrito, to quell any doubts about how you arrived today.

With this travel guide in mind, you can rest easy about doing your part for the planet. Who knows, you might even find yourself touched by the honest day-to-day struggle of the working underclass. In which case, simply splash some holy water on the affected area and head to the Intercontinental for brunch.



  1. Excellent suggestion Vivienne, I may have to try this on my way to tea this afternoon. It'll be a dashed fun adventure I dare say! The only drawback is those darn foreigners, can't seem to escape them these days.
    Must be off. Pip pip.

  2. Ms. Stanette WagstaffeNovember 23, 2010 at 3:05 PM

    Myes, it mightn't be correct to thumb one's nose, but it's entirely appropriate bring a peg.