Thursday saw us at our first gig together this year, the Von Hertzen Brothers at Tuffnell Park Dome although we essentially went to see Blackwolf who were supporting. It was a great gig, although very loud (yes, some gigs are louder than others!). The venue was surprisingly uncrowded – a nod to the VHB being Finnish I expect, so not such a large following in the UK even though they’ve been around since the early 90s. They are also playing Download this year so expect a surge in popularity afterwards. I had been listening to the VHB new CD all week and had enjoyed it but they were actually much heavier on the night.
We left immediately that the encore finished, Tuffnell Park is polar opposite to our house so we had a fairly long journey home (everywhere takes ages to get to in London This is a well-kept secret).
We caught the train from Charing Cross and at Waterloo East 3 men and 1 woman sat in the group of 6 seats in front of us. They had been drinking but were just chatty. They introduced themselves to the lady who was already sitting in one of the six seats and they continued laughing and chatting away, involving us briefly at one point but because we were behind them they left us munching our pasty (MrS) and white chocolate and raspberry muffin (me) in relative peace. They weren’t abusive and there was no bad language at all.
I’m not sure what happened next but they appeared to involve this one particular guy in the their conversation, who seemed to take it all in the spirit in which they were giving it. But then it turned nasty. The new guy started calling them “C***s in suits” and telling them to F**k off. Not just once but over and over. He threated to “stove their heads in”, even “all four of ya together”. They all went quiet but the guy just kept on and on repeating himself. How much he hated them, how he hated anyone in a suit, how he would ”f***ing find them and kill them”. They tried to placate him but he was having none of it. “Don’t you F***ing call me your f***ing mate you b*****ds”.
I told MrS I wanted to move away down the other end of the carriage. We stood up to move and got a “what the F**ks up with ya?” so I told the man that I had a right to travel on public transport without feeling threatened and vulnerable. “F**k off you fat slag” was his reply. It was all I could do to stop MrS going for him. But what would be the point? No prizes for guessing who would have ended up in the wrong.
We sat further down the carriage and I took a photo of him on my phone. Just in case. I tweeted the South Eastern account and they provided me with the text number to report incidents like this
He was still having a go at the other people. I couldn’t hear whether they were replying or not now. So we got off at Lewisham and reported him to the driver. The station staff couldn’t have been more helpful (commenting to the driver “Not you again, this is your second this week!”) . The transport police were called. But of course this delayed the train, which no one was happy about. We explained to the staff that the abuse hadn’t initially been directed at us. I was keen for them to understand that no one had encouraged him, given that MrS and I were dressed for a rock concert in leather jackets and black clothing and had also been drinking. The guy refused to get off the train and other passengers were getting antsy ( I KNOW, I’ve been there). Other passengers were asking what was going on, why hadn’t we just moved carriages etc. We weren’t doing wrong but people expected us to just shrug and move.
So here’s the thing. What if I had been on my own that night? One man complained to us that his train was now delayed too, grumbling that we should have just moved. I asked him if he had a daughter. He said he did. I asked him how he would feel if his daughter had been on that carriage with that man, threatening to “stove [peoples] heads in” and calling them c***s and fat slags. MrS took one look at the suited and booted man and said “Why don’t you try reasoning with him, he’d like you”.
Eventually they did get him off the train – 2 plain clothed police men apparently, although I don’t know for sure.
And the train continued on 15 minutes late. So I do apologise to those behind us who were delayed. But I apologise on behalf of the violent and abusive man for being a dick, not on behalf of myself for doing the right thing. I won’t be getting a train home as late as that on my own in future. People (of any sex) should have the right to travel in safety on public transport. I wonder what that guy would have said to anyone who suggested “They were just drunk, why didn’t you just move to another carriage?”. I expect he would still be threatening to “f***ing kill” them right now too.