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)