Descending the escalator at London Bridge tube station at the weekend, I heard the following announcement over the public address system:
“To the guy with the rucksack and holdall currently on the escalator to the Northern Line, we would just like to inform you that your movements are now being tracked.”
I broke out in a cold sweat. Everyone had turned to look at me, what with me being the only person with a rucksack and holdall. I was too worried to even dwell on the rather informal nature I’d been addressed in (surely it should have been “Gentleman”?): I had no desire to be de Menzesed.
After a pause, the voice came again.
“We repeat, London Transport Police are being informed of your movements. May we suggest you immediately return to the ticket hall and pay your fare.”
Things then made a bit more sense, and the nervous scrutiny I was under lessened once people realised it was just a plan old case of fare evasion. Which it wasn’t.
I’d approached the ticket barriers laden with my bags, and placed the holdall on the floor so as to fish my ticket out of my pocket, open the barrier, and then quickly pick my bag up again and squeeze through before the barrier shut. As this was happening, I felt some cheeky scamp close up behind me, trying to get through the barrier on my ticket too and giving me a couple of encouraging pushes. Halfway through, I turned round and gave him a hefty shove in the chest and he sheepishly skulked off, and then turned back round and pushed my way through the now closing barriers.
I’m guessing a member of staff got a glimpse of the kerfuffle, and assumed it was me that was the fare dodger. I continued with my journey, possibly monitored but entirely unchallenged.
And unshot. Result.
5 weeks ago