Culture House Daily

My ‘fare-dodging’ hell

2 September 2014

12:01 PM

2 September 2014

12:01 PM

At least every other time a ticket inspector boards a train or bus I’m on, I pretend I can’t find my ticket or Oyster card. I then miraculously find it at the very last second before my stop. Why? Pure revenge. I hate this nasty group of sadistic jobsworths and, having been stung by them myself, take great pleasure in distracting them for long enough to allow those who are fare dodging to get away without being spotted.

The smugness of ticket inspectors becomes unbearable in the face of the chronically bad service on London transport. My blood boils when I spot a bank of uniformed inspectors, flanked by police officers, when disembarking a train so overcrowded that your kidneys have been pushed up to your throat and your DNA merged with at least half the carriage.

Encountering several Blakey lookalikes blocking your exit, ensuring you haven’t got away with the £3 fare, seems a little excessive when half of the drivers can’t be arsed to get to work. While they lounge around watching Cash in the Attic, the people who pay their wages are being prevented from getting to work by graduates from the Pol Pot school of charm.


Let’s face it, these days fare-dodging would be a hard job for the Brink’s Mat robbers. Even so, there they are when you disembark, stiff-backed and peak-capped, with ink-stains on their bri-nylon shirts, holding clipboards like a gang of homicidal chuggers. You will, of course, have left your ticket on the train.

Suddenly you find yourself, as I was last week, surrounded by a pack of bulldogs. You’re asked for ID, which of course you don’t have, and the next thing you hear, as was my recent misfortune, is the clipped tones of your captor reading what sounds – at least on Juliet Bravo – very much like a police caution: ‘You do not have to say anything, but…’

To cut a long story short, dear reader, I was cautioned and reported for fare-dodging. My transformation from wild, threatening, cursing person to apologetic, mild-mannered lady, with early-onset memory loss, did not help. The harm was done. And I will now be appearing in court to defend my position. I will, of course, keep you posted on the outcome.

In the mean time, perhaps it would be an idea to ban all cars from central London and make public transport free and frequent? Those millions of ticket inspectors and their police allies could be assigned to rooting out rich tax evaders instead? Ken Dodd and Lester Piggott deserve them more than I do.

Julie Bindel is the author of Straight Expectations: What Does It Mean To Be Gay Today? (Guardian Books)

Follow Julie Bindel on Twitter @bindelj

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Show comments
  • mark pullen

    well done julie ! ! ! !

  • mark pullen

    Nice work julie, fare dodgers could;nt make anywhere near such a great job of it, without your help

  • mark pullen

    A very big thank you for your good work goes out to you Julie my darling, Im a fare dodger and we couldnt do it anywhere near so well, without the help of wonderful people like yourself. Keep up the good work and between us all as fare dodgers we can help in the fight against unfair ticket prices, by only paying between the rail station we get approached on the train between, 3 CHEERS AND ALL THE BEST JULIE ! !! ! !!!! ! !

  • Lee

    Dear Julie, while you continue to help other people commit fraud, please do consider that you are one of the reasons that fares increase so much. Cheers for that, yeah nice one.

    Sure, we are being ripped off by capitalist greed, but you are just giving them more excuses to extort even more money from innocent people who don not commit such crimes. In short, you’re not very bright, are you?

  • Ives

    Really wish I could be bothered to think of a pun laden version of Ticket To Ride…

  • DrPlokta

    You both complain about overcrowding and want London’s public transport to be free. That would make the overcrowding far far worse — one of the main purposes of the fare is to keep people off public transport so that only people who need to use it are using it. And it would cost impossible amounts of money to build enough new Tube and train lines to carry everyone who would use it if it was free.

  • Mike

    Travel on the transport, pay the fare. If you don’t like it or think it’s too expensive then don’t use it, but don’t expect it to be provided for free because it doesn’t work like that. These people who inspect the tickets are employed by the train companies to do just that, it’s their job and I doubt they take satisfaction in finding a fare dodger as they get paid the same whether they catch anyone or not so do they really care?

  • Tone720 (CBA)

    So ‘Julie’ you admit you’re enabling other fare dodgers (how DARE anyone be asked to pay their way!!!) and are stopping someone doing their job? I have ZERO sympathy for people like you, wasting time and preventing someone doing their job. How about someone comes and stops you writing trash like this, then does a piece about it? Stop tarring all transport staff with the same brush, or Better, if you REALLY don’t like it, get a car so you never have to be bothered with all what you clearly see as ‘hassle’. Is showing a ticket when asked REALLY such a huge inconvenience or effort? Apparently showing reason in this ‘blog’ piece is.

  • mags2014

    Maybe some people are grateful to have a job and just get on with it. Maybe they see these ‘deliberately awkward’ people a hundred times a day. And maybe these ‘deliberately awkward’ muppets need to realise that if everybody paid the fare they were supposed to then prices wouldn’t rise. Because again, that’d be another long winded article wouldn’t it?! 😉

  • Beth_N

    Sounds to me like perhaps you weren’t as innocent as you’re making out when it comes to your ‘misfortune’. Yes some rail staff can be brusque and the ‘I lost my ticket’ line is one that’s been heard before, however most will take the time to listen to you before deciding on the appropriate action although ‘wild, threatening, cursing’ behaviour will NOT get you sympathy. Maybe you were unfortunate with the member of staff you encountered? But personally I get the impression perhaps you were fare evading and are angry for being caught. You clearly have a bee in your bonnet about the railway in general. Your view on the subject is extremely one-sided and misinformed.

  • CFM56

    I was linked to this article off a railway forum. The members found it rather funny, especially the ‘left it on the train’ line – had me in hysterics.

    The general consensus is that you’re going to get fined a considerable amount, and you’ll have only yourself to blame.

    I agree.

  • Jonathan Morris

    Sorry Julie, but Katie Hopkins does trolling far better than you do.

    Mind if you let me know when you’re in court? I’ve got the popcorn ready but just need to know the time and place.

  • RaymondDance

    I’ve obviously got the wrong end of the stick somewhere along the line (no pun intended). I always thought Julie Bindel was a sanctimonious leftie of some sort. Turns out she’s a bigoted sanctimonious leftie.

  • Sofie Selnes

    “And I will now be appearing in court to defend my position. I will, of course, keep you posted on the outcome.”

    We’ll hold you to that, Julie!

    • frank marker

      Do you think you’ll get nick Binders? If you do, look on the bright side, can you imagine the amount of Speccie blogs you’ll be able to write in your cell. I guess there would be a book commission too. You’ll then be able to retire to a lovely cottage in Hebden Bridge and spent the rest of your days keeping bees.
      Love ya!

  • RoyWatson

    Can somebody who’s actually acquainted with Julie Bindel please get in touch with her and let her know that that egregious pillock James Delingpole has been writing blogs under her name again?

    • RoyWatson

      I’d also be curious to know how her payment for this article compares to the average fine levied against first-time fare-dodgers.

  • Barakzai

    What am I missing in this Guardianista’s diatribe? Are the inspectors really an allegory for the rich who should be soaked in order to right all the state’s wrongs and permit hard-working socialists to enjoy the rights and benefits they ‘deserve?’ Are they ‘management’ to be despised, unlike the heroic fraternity of drivers who belong to the philanthropic RMT union?
    Or is Bindel just a mouthy pain in the butt?

    • Guy

      Guardianistas? Be fair, the Guardian’s based in King’s Cross, the staff almost certainly pay their fares properly. And they’re too young to understand the ‘Blakey’ reference in here, as are most of the Spectatistas (or whatever they’re called) I imagine.

  • AlbertNW

    An astonishingly weak article. I use the bus and tube every day. The services are pretty good, the staff respond to a smile and a “thanks”, and if inspectors get a bit severe with the spongers and scroungers who make up the vast bulk of fare dodgers then that seems entirely reasonable.

  • Jim Obasa

    I believe Julie Bindel is in urgent need of psychiatric help. Is she really so lacking in intelligence and common sense to realize that there is a minority of passengers who travel without tickets and therefore it is essential to have ticket checking staff both on stations and on board trains. Perhaps she would prefer to have no transport facility at all because the fact is that transport providers actually need revenue in order to run their trains, maintain their trains and actually pay staff to operate the trains and to be present on stations. Julie Bindel is a total idiot in my opinion.

  • grammarschoolman

    An excellent piece of Daily Mail anti-chavvery. I’d love to know how you explain it to your minders at the Guardian.

  • Dakta

    A poor show of an article/opinion piece. You can see the effort behind trying to be inflammatory which distracts from the consideration that there may be any sort of point to said article whatsoever, so I’ll give it a 2/10, which puts it on equal scoring with dynamo’s shard stunt.

  • ashieuk

    Julie, are you moonlighting as a PR for ticket inspectors? Job done, I’d say.

  • Michael Smith

    Oh dear, Julie. It hasn’t been possible to buy Bri-Nylon shirts for many years. Looks as though you’ll need something else to be snobbish about.

  • Kitty MLB

    On a slightly lighter note. Whilst away recently a few people and I
    took a train journey, whilst I the person who was paying decided
    to jump off the train in pursuit of magnum Icecreams..the ticket
    inspector turned up and was quite bemused to be told that the lady paying was not on board and keeping the train waiting.
    It was rather a small train.Some time latter he returned and said
    “Oh the lady with the magnum, holding the train up” The American
    tourists on the train burst out laughing…and I somewhat red faced.

  • Blahdeblah

    Cheer up… this guy had a worse time (and he paid for his ticket!)

  • zanzamander

    I bet you also take ages rummaging through your over sized purse at the supermarket counters at the last minute looking for your credit card keeping everybody behind you waiting, just because it gives you some sense of revenge against the supermarkets.

  • zanzamander

    So basically the rest of us are paying a fare and are having to suffer the overcrowded trains because of fare dodgers that you seem to be encouraging who rob these train companies of their revenue.

    And why so unkind towards ticket inspectors? In all my years of travelling on the tube, I have not yet met a person you describe. If you really detest them so much then surely all you have to do is keep your ticket at the ready at all times so that you end up spending the least possible time with them.

    You’re just a snob, Julie Bindel.

  • Orchid101

    I know that ticket inspectors can act like jobsworths and sympathise with anyone who is innocently caught out after losing their ticket, or who was unable to obtain one. But you openly admit to deliberately obstructing the ticket inspectors to assist fare dodgers to get off and you expect our sympathy? I shouldn’t expect any from the court either after that admission.

  • HenryWood

    That’s nothing, that!

    I was once on a train from Aberdeen to London in the very heady early 1970’s days of the Klondike oil boom and intended getting off at Edinburgh Waverley. Unfortunately I met a gang of Geordie gentlemen who, on recognising my accent (Geordie), immediately drew me into their company and a very mellow journey ensued. Nearing Edinburgh Waverley I tried to stand up to grab my luggage and get off the train. No such luck.

    “Whey, man lad!” was the general cry, “Wot are you getting off here for, like?” When I said that I now lived near here I was then asked, “Well, like, why don’t you continue down the line and go and see your long-lost family who are dying to meet you again?”

    This seemed like a good idea so I went and asked my very good friend the buffet-car Chief Steward what would happen if I stayed on until Newcastle whilst only holding an Edinburgh ticket? “Nowt at all, bonny lad,” I was assured. “When you get off the train at Newcastle Central just tell the ticket inspector that you want to pay the excess between Edinburgh and Newcastle, and from the looks of your wallet you’ll have nee problems doing that, like!”

    So, Newcastle here we come.

    When I reached Newcastle I could not speak. The Geordie “gentlemen” deserted me in droves as they headed for home and I was left at the head of a quite long queue trying to leave Newcastle Central while clutching a ticket to Edinburgh in one hand and a fistful of notes in the other. The “little Hitler” [got to get that in!] ticket inspector informed me my ticket was of no use here and that I would have to get back on to a platform served by Edinburgh trains and then go North.

    Well … though my powers of speech had until now deserted me, I suddenly became quite vocal and remembered words like “stupid!” and “kant!” and “ignorant!” and “barsteward!” etc. The next thing I knew, I was waking up in Market Street police station in Newcastle and being consoled by a very friendly Sergeant who gave me a cup of tea and asked why I didn’t just pay the excess between Edinburgh and Newcastle as I seemed to have plenty of cash in my pocket. When I explained the whys and wherefores he told me I had been “taken” by British Transport police and then handed over to Market Street. Under the circumstances he was prepared to turn a blind eye to all that had gone before and he let me proceed home to my North East abode. Under the circumstances I thanked him profusely and left a large donation for the police charity of his choice.

    Oh for the days when policemen were “coppers”!

  • Orchid101

    Sounds like comeuppance to me

  • picquet

    My sympathy is entirely with the inspectors, bstrds that they may be. If that was my employment, I’d ensure that the entire library was thrown at you.

  • Fraser Bailey

    This is why I have basically eliminated public transport (in Britain) from my life. It’s an expensive insult to humanity.

  • NJH

    Worst article I have ever read in the Spectator. Perhaps I should polish off one of my rants and give it a go.

    • Kitty MLB

      Oh come on.We once had an article at Con Home: Which leader would look best with a bald head. Surely that ought
      be the worse article ever.And lighten’ll crack if you
      were to fall over.

      • Patriot69

        Ooh – I’m bald. Perhaps I should give politics a go.

  • RBcritique

    I can tell you the outcome from experience. I had photos of the broken ticket machine and the fact that I was loaded down with suitcases and had an important rendezvous to meet. I tried to pay at the other other end, but was refused. I asked for a complaint form and signed it, then realised it was a statement of guilt. The woman at the barrier at Hitchin let a friend of hers through without paying but was as rude as possible to me. I went to court after writing a lengthy letter to the train company. I was told my options by the train company’s representative: either be found guilty by the court and receive a criminal record or pay £100 immediately. An utter disgrace.

    • disqus_KdiRmsUO4U

      The usual self justifying baloney.
      No doubt ur dog had been ill.
      Ur basement had been flooded etc etc etc.

      If you cant plan a journey and arrange to pay for it in a proper manner that is ur problem OK ?

      Julie Bindel proves herself to be an arrogant twit..

      • RBcritique

        It was my problem, granted. Had the train employee’s mate been prosecuted in kind, I would have no complaint. Meanwhile I look forward to reading about any of your future brushes with perceived injustice.

        • Tone720 (CBA)

          The ’employees mate’ was like also a staff member, they don’t wear uniform ALL the time you know. Hinging your argument on that is incredibly flawed.

          • RBcritique

            There is absolutely no way that the employee’s mate was a member of staff. Take it from me. I was there.

            • Tone720 (CBA)

              and clearly you would know everything… -,- Still a flawed statement to make, you just have no way of knowing the situation. Acting like you do just weakens your case. Also I know nothing about you so why would I just take your word as if Gospel? Like I said, hinging your agenda on things like that incredibly flawed.