Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Boxcar Leggy.

So the train fares in London went up this week.

I didn't know this because I get all my bad news from Twitter. Richard Briers is dead, another ageing celebrity arrested under Operation Yewtree, more people killed in Syria. Twitter never fails to show me only the most upsetting and sickening things imaginable.

Yet I saw no rage over the train fares increase. Not a word. So when I went to the ticket machine at the train station yesterday and saw that my regular daily travelcard (Zones 1-4) had gone up from £8 to £8.90 I was shocked. Actually, it's more bizarre than that. It's actually a Zones 1-6 travelcard that now costs £8.90 because Zones 1-4 travelcards no longer exist, except they do and they cost £11.70.

So, not only have the fares gone up but I'm now forced to buy an Oyster Card, the biggest rip off in London. Yeah, it's like having Rock Circus in your wallet. Oyster Cards cost £5 to just own one, that's before you pay for a single journey. Then you'll lose it and not get your "refundable" £5 back or it'll become faulty and you won't get your "refundable" £5 back and if you're a tourist then welcome to London, give Boris £5 and you won't have time to get your money back because you'll miss your train back to Gatwick. I don't think that the Oyster Card is monitoring me, I'm not that special, but I do think that if you're paying to go on a train, does it really matter HOW you pay? It's money, isn't it? You know, to go on the upkeep of the rail network.

A few nights ago I sat on a train and it stopped for no reason. A woman started shouting. "WHY ISN'T THIS FUCKING TRAIN MOVING?" She had a point. She didn't quite need to make it so loudly and so frequently but she did have a point. Why isn't the train moving? And why is no one telling us why the train isn't moving? Phew, imagine how awful things were before the expensive upkeep of the rail network, I thought, as the same woman dropped her pants and urinated in the aisle.

But why hadn't Twitter warned me? This is completely the sort of thing Twitter loves complaining about yet I saw nothing. Did Twitter think they would give Transport For London a chance to improve this year? Did Twitter think that they'd use this increase in fares as a great excuse to start walking? Did Caitlin say the fares increase was "wicked" and therefore no one was allowed to say anything? No...Twitter didn't say anything because Twitter can afford to pay for more expensive train tickets so Twitter doesn't give a fuck. Twitter has money. Well, I don't. And I don't have an Oyster Card. But I do have dignity...

So, I got on the train without paying.

Yep. I'm 45 and I got on the train without paying. I even had my excuse ready if anyone asked why I didn't have a ticket. My excuse was "FUCK OFF". I think it would have worked. But there I was, on a train without a ticket and LIVING. I was on my way to the West End to see The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, a film about a very ordinary man who has been forced into becoming a thief, and I was going all the way there FOR FREE. I genuinely didn't care what happened to me when I got to the station at the other end. I'm making a point. I'm telling Boris to shove his Oyster Cards and his price increase up his blonde, insane arse. I'm a fucking hero. A fucking hero that got to his destination, left the train and jumped the turnstile.

Well, it was camper than that really. I sat on the turnstile and swung my legs round. That's the new, cheaper way to travel in London. Touch in-touch out? NO! Sit down-swing legs. That's the way to go.

And no one said anything. No one shouted, no security chasing me, no 40 foot Boris breathing fire. Nothing. I fare dodged and went to the pictures.

It was after 11pm when I got back and the turnstiles were open. Easy. I'd done it. I'd said no to this ridiculous increase that shows us no improvement or security. I sat down in my train seat, on my way back home, and felt smug.

A homeless man came up the aisle looking for money but was stopped by a passenger. "No", said the passenger. "I'm not giving you money for a hostel because you won't spend it on a hostel. You'll spend it on beer and drugs, won't you?" The homeless man apologised quietly but the passenger shouted "WON'T YOU?" at him again. The homeless man said sorry again and walked away.

I turned to the passenger and said "Wow. That was incredible".

"I know", he said in a Northern Irish accent he didn't deserve. "You have to tell them or they won't fuck off".

"Well", I replied. "Good job you're so fucking sanctimonious".

His friend then joined in and said to me "Yeah. He helped us dodge a bullet there, eh?".

There was a long pause before the friend said "Hang on. What does sanctimonious mean?"

Insanely, the passenger replied to his friend "It means holy".

"I think you'll find it's closer to prick", I said.

Can we not go on a single train journey without having to witness the very worst people on this planet? Are we never to be safe travelling in London. Something needs to be done about this. Put the fares up, I say.

Hey! Do The Right Thing is BACK! You can start downloading series 4 right now here: and it's also on iTunes.

Robin Ince and I are BACK! In Pointless Anger, Righteous Anger every first Tuesday of the month at the Comedy Cafe in London. Tickets here:

1 comment:

Ian Franklin said...

Hi Michael,
Are you also doing Pointless Anger, Righteous Ire in Northampton in February? Really hoping to see it if you're there. Just got to persuade my wife that she wants to go and see 2 comedians that she's never heard of (actually that's unfair... She's definitely heard of you... Mainly because I keep telling her that she'd love how angry you get).