back to article Londoners react with horror to Tube Chat initiative

London’s commuters were plunged into terror this week as a shadowy organisation attempted to turn decades of convention on its head by encouraging people to talk to one another. It’s over 140 years since the capital’s inhabitants first learned to keep their gobs shut on underground trains or face the prospect of social …

  1. Chika


    Another lame-brained scheme courtesy of some marketing exec with time on their hands. Yet another reason why I hate London.

    1. Stuart 22

      Re: Cabbage

      I agree. What a stupid idea. Why waste all those Amazonian rainforests when all they needed to do was disable the automatic door openers? Then Tubists could share in the welcoming way us Overgrounders greet each other each morning ... "push the button you sleepyheaded w..ker".

      Nice to know you have been noticed ;-)

    2. Havin_it

      Re: Cabbage

      According to the Standard the guy is an NHS worker hailing from Colorado (one of the more enlightened states of the Union I'd say, though others may not), from a small town where it's common to know and chat with pretty much everyone you meet in your day-to-day life (and because they weren't living in London, they were generally having a better day most of the time so the chat was more enjoyable). My background is similar and it's a facet of rural life that I do miss since becoming an urbanite.

      I may go against the grain here, but I think it's a tragedy how insular people in London seem to be, and I bet there are more people on those trains than you care to acknowledge whose misery is in no small part due to the crippling loneliness of their lives, for which this prevailing attitude is far from blameless.

      I think it's a good idea. It doesn't compel anyone to be sociable if they don't want to, and it might just end up making the odd few people a bit happier. Where's the harm?

      1. Martin

        Re: Cabbage

        "What's the harm?"

        There's a reason why most people on the tube are normally either deep in a book or the newspaper, playing with their phone, or listening to something on headphones. It's to get through the journey as quickly as possible, while disturbing as few people as possible. And two (or more) people having a "chat" is not a chat - it's a public conversation with everyone in the immediate vicinity being forced to listen to it, whether or not they want to.

        God knows the tube is stressful enough at rush hour, without people "chatting" all around us.

        1. Sebastian A

          Re: Cabbage

          Correct me if I'm wrong (not that I need to say it) but aren't the buttons a way of saying "Feel free to approach me to chat" without the wearer needing to verbally accost randoms in a fruitless search for stimulating conversation?

          IE feel free to read the paper, futz with your phone or stare blankly at the back of the head of the person in front of you if you like, this campaign won't affect you.

        2. Havin_it

          @Martin Re: Cabbage

          "OMG I went into a public environment and some of the people therein are having the temerity to audibly communicate with each other!!!eleventyone"

          It's not for me to comment on why the tube is so stressful in the first place, I'll have to take your word for that, but why does hearing other people conversing make it more so?

          I ask as someone who strongly values a bit of contemplative solitude himself, but would never expect to achieve it on public transport.

      2. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

        Re: Cabbage

        I live on the edge of a market town. If I head out into the countryside, everybody will stop and talk. But if I head into the town, conversation stops.

        I think it's to do with population density. People are so far and few between in the woods and the fields that it's no great imposition to stop and have a conversation. But in the town centre on market day you're elbowing through the crowds and it's just not physically possible to say hello to everyone.

        1. Triggerfish

          Re: Cabbage

          I'd agree with that. People in small towns and villages even walk along expecting to bump into someone they know. I've lived in a few places and population density does definitely have an effect on friendliness. Live in London you have a very tight personal space, and you have tbh a lot more hassles to deal with than the average stroll through a village, getting somewhere is a mission sometimes.

          1. m0rt

            Re: Cabbage

            This is true. However...

            Having lived in small places, and big places...London has an air of FOAD that I loathe. Maybe it is me. Maybe I have a face that people just want to punch. But every time I get on the effing Virgin tilt trains and struggle to sit without my shoulders being pushed into the next seat by the wonderful trapezoidal interior offering less space than an Ryanair/Easyjet cheap seat to Magawhatsit, then get to Euston, exchange 1 pee for 30p, get on the Northern line, attempt to get on again as somehow forcing my svelte 100kgs into a carriage that looks like Norris McWhirter should be overseeing for the Guiness Book of Records, then try not to touch the handrail with my actual skin in case one of the millions before me that morning decided not to wash their hands, then deal with the oppressive heat, then get expelled at the other end into blissful fresh^W less hot air to then walk to our office, avoiding the, what I assume is, litter collection but looks to be the entire contents of someone's bedroom, gone past all the lovely independent shops that seem to change each time I am there.....I usually don't feel like talking Screaming, usually, but not talking.


            1. Triggerfish

              Re: Cabbage

              Don't get me wrong I come from London, and have been happily living in much smaller places, not sure i would want to go back and live there permanently. I know a fair few who have lived in London and eventually ended up moving out. It is however a great place to be when you are in your prime drinking and going out years.

            2. Cpt Blue Bear

              Re: Cabbage

              "...London has an air of FOAD that I loathe. Maybe it is me..."

              Its not just you. London may very well be a great city but its inhabitants are, in the words of client and born and bred West Londoner, "a pack of miserable bastards". I got by playing the big dumb cheerful Aussie and just riding rough shod over their collective tough-guy act.

              From the comments below, it sounds like they haven't got any better since the mid-90s.

            3. Lyndon Hills 1

              London has an air of FOAD that I loathe

              This coming from someone who calls themselves Mort....

              1. m0rt

                Re: London has an air of FOAD that I loathe

                Yes. How hipster is that?!

            4. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

              Re: Cabbage

              Well said. you are spot on about London.

              I have managed to avoid having to work in London (viz City/West End) for my whole working life despite living less then 40 miles from Bank.

              No one has ever wanted to talk to each other. Now with every other person wearing (usually white) ear buds there is even less incentive to open your gob.

          2. Sirius Lee

            Re: Cabbage

            My wife often talks to people when she walks down the high street. Not button holing them or something weird but engaging in conversation as a natural part of other interactions like buying stuff, dodging out of the way, picking up something someone dropped and so on. Could be a friend, could be a stranger. Doesn't matter to her.

            However if the kids go with her then to them, every utterance, every syllable out of her mouth is is an extreme embarrassment. So it seems from this anecdotal evidence the aversion to conversation outside the immediate friend/acquaintance group is learned, somehow, by urban kids while very young.

            Maybe it's something learned at home because the kids don't seem to like conversation at home much either which is usually limited to mono-syllabic noises.

          3. Squander Two


            Although urban areas versus the countryside explains some of this, it can't be the whole picture. Because it's not cities or large towns in general; it's mainly bloody London. Glaswegians and Mancunians and Durhamites and Yorkers and Belfasters (Belfastians? Belfishers?) will happily chat with each other. Not as much as people in the countryside, no, but a hell of a lot more than bloody Londoners.

            1. Triggerfish

              Re: Urbanity

              Well I'd point out Manchester does have some of that attitude and also Leeds not as much admittedly, worth noting Glasgow pop 2.3 million, Manchester pop 2.5 million, London pop 8.5 million.

              Also worth noting central London, on the tube, the most crowded and busiest part of the city, yeah don't be suprised people haven't got time to pass the day. It can be quite diffferent on a night out, or as you move closer to the suburbs.

            2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: Urbanity

              "Because it's not cities or large towns in general; it's mainly bloody London. Glaswegians and Mancunians and Durhamites and Yorkers and Belfasters "

              Maybe it's just the sheer size of the urban area? In most other cities, it's usually only 10 minutes or so out into open countryside. I've never lived in London or even inside the M25, but I've spent time there and in conversation with customers, it seems many Londoners never leave the city other than to fly out on holiday to another country. Many have never, ever visited any other part of the UK. At all. Those that have, seem to know about the south coast and Brighton and have ambitions to retire there with no consideration or knowledge of other nicer and cheaper parts of the country. There seems to be a fear that everywhere except London has no pubs, no cinemas, no theatre etc.

              1. Spanners Silver badge

                Re: Urbanity

                other nicer and cheaper parts of the country

                Do you mean, almost all of it then?

            3. Tom 38

              Re: Urbanity

              it's not cities or large towns in general; it's mainly bloody London. Glaswegians and Mancunians and Durhamites and Yorkers and Belfasters (Belfastians? Belfishers?) will happily chat with each other.

              Cmon. This is about chatting on the tube - the main reason we don't talk on the tube is that it is almost fucking impossible to do so. When I get on the tube with friends, often we don't talk on the tube because you have to get intimately close to each other or shout extremely loudly.

              Most of the times that we regularly take the tube (eg, for commuting), it's so crowded that the only thing you can get close to is someone else's armpit, because you are crammed in like sardines.

              It's unpleasantly warm in summer; I wear separate travelling clothes of shorts and t-shirt and then get changed in to work gear afterwards otherwise I get to work dripping with sweat.

              Pretty much the only way to cope with that crowdedness, noise and heat is to zone out and pretend you are somewhere, anywhere else. Music helps. Reading helps. Having an awkward shouted conversation - even with a friend, let alone some random stranger - does not.

              Other cities in the UK simply aren't comparable. People don't really talk on the Paris Metro either.

        2. Rich 11 Silver badge

          Re: Cabbage

          Similarly, if you go for a walk early in the morning, you'll find other walkers, joggers and dog-walkers much more likely to nod, smile and/or say hello. And the bloke emptying the bins in the park, and the copper who is thinking 'my shift is almost over' so intensely that telepathy could be a thing.

    3. Tom Paine

      Re: Cabbage

      Maybe you should research the person behind it before venting your spleen?

  2. BillDarblay

    Unfortunately this hateful misanthropic London Virus

    is spreading to resort Hotels all over Europe.

    The only time you see them crack a smile (and then they are grinning like wanking baboons), is in front of a selfie stick.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Unfortunately this hateful misanthropic London Virus

      There are other places to stay apart from 'resort hotels'.

      Small hotels where they speak little or no English are great places to stay and even (Shudder) converse with the locals.

      Besides, who really wants to go abroad and meet the same people you ignore on the tube for 200+ days a year.

  3. Lee D Silver badge


    So long as I can get a "STFU and leave me alone" button.

    1. Jay 2

      There's a reason I've got earphones in and am usually reading something, and this sort of thing is it. On my commute I'm perfectly happy in my own little bubble, hopefully not aware of other annoying distractions like people talking or playing music too loud via their shitty (usually Apple) earphones. And if you ever end up above ground, then add anyone talking on their mobile for longer than "I'm on the tube/train, I'll call you back in X mins" or similar.

      The last thing I want is to end up in a carriage full of yapping/braying types forcing me to listen to them as they're so sodding loud.

    2. Spudley

      > So long as I can get a "STFU and leave me alone" button.

      I think you are missing the whole point. (but don't worry; it seems like pretty much everyone else is too, judging by the articles here and on the beeb, and by the tweets copied on both)

      The badge is *inviting* chat, not trying to force it on anyone. If someone is wearing it, they are hoping that someone will see it and talk to them. They aren't wearing it as an excuse to arbitrarily start talking to people who aren't wearing one.

      If you don't want anyone talking to you, that's fine -- just don't wear one and carry on as normal.

      1. Mike 125

        >>I think you are missing the whole point.

        No, you are.

        Being forced to stand opposite some hippy cretin wearing a "Tube Chat?" badge would massively increase social anxiety.

        (Back in the day, social anxiety was known as the desire to 'punch someone in the face and run the f'k away' when they got too close, or worse, attempted any form of social interaction.)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Back in the day, social anxiety was known as the desire to 'punch someone in the face and run the f'k away' when they got too close, or worse, attempted any form of social interaction.

          I think you've confused sociopathy with social anxiety.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "So long as I can get a "STFU and leave me alone" button."

      Buttons are for pushing. Or keeping your jacket/shirt closed. I think you meant badge. But I agree with your sentiment other than to add "We don' need no steenkin' badges!"

  4. M7S

    At least no one, yet, is suggesting that any conversation is


    ("Criminal conversation". A lovely legal term. Duckduckgo it)

  5. Rich 11 Silver badge

    The last stranger who spoke to me on the Tube was a God junkie with a fix to sell. He stopped mid-sentence, after about 30 words, hopefully deciding that I looked like a dangerous psychopath.

    1. Simon Harris

      Not only did a stranger want to talk to me once on the tube, but he wanted to help me with my Sudoku.

      Great! The one thing I had to distract me from the awfulness of the journey and he went and ruined it!

      1. John Gamble

        Pfff. It was only a Sudoku. Now if they tried to "help" you with a Kenken puzzle, I could understand being upset.

        1. Simon Harris

          Thanks for introducing me to Kenken.

          Now no work will get done between now and pub time!

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Trains in the Bay Area are the same

    I find the best way to approach commute on BART is to internalize the viewpoint of a middle-aged tabby cat. "Yeah, I'm here--got a problem with that?" or "I see you looking at the seat I'm on, but I'm pretty comfortable, thank you."

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Trains in the Bay Area are the same

      > internalize the viewpoint of a middle-aged tabby cat

      I prefer the attitude of a tortie[1] - in 5 nanoseconds go from contentedly purring to psychotic ball of knives..

      [1] Although my current tortie is atypical - the only time she does the whole 'die die die' thing is if she's really, really frightened. Like when we try and grab her to take her to the vets for her annual MOT..

  7. TRT Silver badge

    Ah, the French... Ou est le chat?

    I recall going to Paris with the ex-wife when she was expecting. Not having covered 'my partner is up-the-duff' in school boy French, I added various helpful phrases to my lexicon, such as "ma femme est enceinte", just in case. I had learned a new word; enceinte - pregnant.

    Pottering around on the Metro, I was intrigued by a sign that read "Il est interdit pour introducer des animaux dans l'enceinte de system Metropolitan".

    Hang on... I thought. It is forbidden to introduce animals into pregnancy on the Metro? Do they have a problem with people breeding dogs down there? Is there an army of stripy jumper wearing farmers tupping their sheep in between the turnstiles?

    The best concept I could find was that English used to refer to pregnancy as "the confinement" at one point. Then it becomes clear. You can't bring your pets within the confines of the Metro.

    Je suis enceinte, pas un chat.

    1. Dr_N

      Re: Ah, the French... Ou est le chat?

      An "enceinte" is an enclosure. Also used to describe (audio) speakers.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Ah, the French... Ou est le chat?

        @Dr_N. How did I work for Radio Shack for so many years without coming across that?! I mean, I'd have thought that was an obvious one, as I did a good few months working for them in Canada. Mind you, I might have become even more confused had I tried to equate hifi speakers, pregnant things and the Metro.

    2. Tom 38

      Re: Ah, the French... Ou est le chat?

      I only remember this because of the time it happened to my sister, she was having dinner with her French exchange's family, the mother asked if she wanted any more food, and she replied "Non merci, je suis pleine".

      Now, stick that in to most translation tools, and it will say it means "No thanks, I'm full", however in more common usage it means "No thanks, I'm pregnant".

      As she was 13 at the time, a little embarrassing...

      1. Primus Secundus Tertius

        Re: Ah, the French... Ou est le chat?

        The same happened to me, a boy, in Germany.

        "Ich bin voll".

        They laughed, and laughed, ...

      2. Anonymous IV

        Re: Ah, the French... Ou est le chat?

        It's amazing that the French cannot speak/understand their own language!

        I once asked a French teacher, "Comme êtes-vous ce matin?", and she didn't have a clue about what I was on...

    3. MiguelC Silver badge

      Re: Ah, the French... Ou est le chat?

      And thus you discovered homographs ... yey?

      1. innominatus

        Re: Ah, the French... Ou est le chat?

        Tube Chats? Clapham Common Tube station taken over by cats

  8. AndrueC Silver badge
  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Many of the Londoners who want to interact with other people like they are other human beings have given up on the Big Smoke and moved to Bristol.

    Maybe it helps that Bristol doesn't have a tube system, or even a bus system anyone uses. By foot, by bicycle, light rail, skateboard or supermarket trolley (depending on route and quantity of strong cider consumed) are acceptable forms of transport. Also, many a Bristolian considers it acceptable to spark up a 'jazz cigarette' as they stroll down the pavement in most parts of the city.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge


      Wasn't Bristol one of the first UK cities to trial personal video cameras for their police officers? Hmm....

    2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      > helps that Bristol doesn't have a tube system, or even a bus system

      Or electricity, wheels or running water.. :-)

    3. phuzz Silver badge

      I usually sum up the differences between London and Bristol thus:

      In London, if you fell down dead in the street, no body would notice, other than perhaps to tut because you'd had the impoliteness to be dead in their way.

      In Bristol people would be sure to at least point and laugh, perhaps prop you up into a humorous pose, and maybe commemorate it in graffiti. Whilst smoking a joint and drinking cider.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is why we can't have Nice Things!!

    Today, everyone is supposed to bury his headbrain in vapid Facebook maimnfo, Linkedin requests and Tweets. And there is a reason for this!!

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: This is why we can't have Nice Things!!

      I don't do any of that FaceTwatLinkShit. I just comment here instead.

  11. FuzzyWuzzys

    For the last 20 off years of my daily tube commute I take great pleasure in watching people, when you make eye contact with someone it really freaks them out and they quickly dive head first back into their phone, paper or book!

    1. Steven Roper

      "when you make eye contact with someone it really freaks them out "

      Be careful doing that if you're male and the "someone" is female. It's now a hate crime in some UK jurisdictions.

      1. Hollerithevo

        No it isn't

        Mr Roper, a man looking at a woman isn't a hate crime. Get over yourself.

        Looking at people when they don't want you to is like reading their book over their shoulder or helping themselves to their crisps. There's an unspoken rule about staying in certain confines when in a crowded social space.

        A man persistently staring in a way that makes a woman (or a man or a child) feel unsafe and targeted is a creep and could and probably should be seen a stalker. Or possibly as sociopath. Neither is welcome in a crowded tube carriage.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Re: No it isn't

          Mr Roper, a man looking at a woman isn't a hate crime.

          It's quite clearly a microaggression though.

          Once Hillary will have created the Department of Microdefense (DoM) to lead the War on Microaggressions and Nastiness (WOMAN), we should make the effort to learn from our US brethren.

        2. Steven Roper

          Re: No it isn't

          "A man persistently staring in a way that makes a woman (or a man or a child) feel unsafe and targeted"

          And how is that decided exactly? What constitutes "persistently staring?" 2 seconds? 5? 10? Looking once? Twice? Ten times? Looking anywhere between chin and feet? Is there a difference between how long, and where, an attractive young guy is allowed to look and a creepy old guy is allowed to look?

          When you define crimes based on people's feelings and emotional responses instead of concrete specific acts you create a situation in which anyone could be found to have broken the law simply because someone else didn't like the look of them. That is not, by any stretch, a free society.

      2. disgruntled yank

        Eye contact

        The problem that I have discovered is that making eye contact with a female someone will often cause her to offer me her seat. This tends to damage my notion of myself as a vigorous young man, but so far I have resisted bursting into tears.

    2. Known Hero

      I do this whenever i have to travel to London :) it is amusing.

      don't worry happens very rarely as I am a very fickle about breaching the M25 safety cordon.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The proper place for talking codshit to random strangers is down the boozer once you are 4 pints in. not on public transport.

    1. Rusty 1

      Re: meh

      Surely not. What better a place to ask a complete stranger (ideally someone on holiday) where the nearest library is? They'll obviously not know, so you can then tell them that it is two stops back, 3rd street on the right from the north exit!

      It's not just me that does this, is it? OK, those 4 pints help.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: meh

        Someone last night had clearly had one over the eight and was attempting to make conversation on the bus. Mainly about Rizlas, and did anyone have any.

        1. Tom Paine

          Re: meh

          The last time someone cheerily tried starting conversations wirth random passengers (West Hampstead station, as I recall) he was happy to cheerily boast about how much charlie he'd shoved up his hooter than evening and how marvellous he was feeling as a result. #datapoint

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've never had problems with folks wanting to talk to me...

    ...but then I sit there muttering nonsense to myselves, rendering all the different Voices In My Head in individual voices, and happily chewing on strips of beef jerky pretending it's Human flesh.

    Sometimes I even get the whole car to myselves! Woot! =-D

    *mutter mutter cackle mumble giggle snort*

    1. frank ly

      Re: I've never had problems with folks wanting to talk to me...

      I think I sat across from you once, on a very crowded tube train. There was a definite smell of methanol about you and what looked like dried vomit on your filthy beard. I didn't mind at all because there was a ten foot diameter 'no go zone' around you, for some reason, and I could lean left and right, stretch my arms out, etc. I thought about asking you to tag along with me for the rest of the day but I didn't want to impose.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: I've never had problems with folks wanting to talk to me...

        You were the muttering, dribbling loon covered in beef crumbs on the 7:33 from Barking.

        I was the relaxed man opposite, smiling across at you and doing calisthenics while seated.

        I think we'd make a great team. If you're interested In true love, and noshing on my jerky beef, contact me at Stamdard box no 666.

        1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

          Re: I've never had problems with folks wanting to talk to me...

          Look , this is El-reg not some wierd fetish dating site

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Re: Look , this is El-reg not some wierd fetish dating site...

            You mean El-reg isn't a weird fetish dating site with a heavy tech-pr0n bias? Well knock me down with a Sinclair micro-drive cartridge.

  14. Doug M.

    My wife attracts the crazies on public transport. They'll blab to her about anything. I used to feel obligated to try to save her by having a chat with her. Now I just sit a few seats away and be happy it's not me they are talking to.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge

      My wife attracts the crazies on public transport.

      Where did you meet her?


  15. Adrian 4


    They'll be getting men to talk in public lavatories next.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Disgusting

      No, no, no.

      Eyes front, one urinal apart.

      That's LAW.

      1. lglethal Silver badge

        Re: Disgusting

        That's right. No "small" talk in the mens room!

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: Disgusting

          There is one exception to the no talking rule. And that's if your cubicle is out of bog roll. Then it's a queue for a game of bog roll basketball.

    2. MrDamage Silver badge

      Re: Disgusting

      I've heard that a bunch of pricks hang out in men's rooms.

    3. 0laf Silver badge

      Re: Disgusting

      You can chat but it must be done whilst staring straight ahead. Acceptable topics include, football, weather and how shite your job is.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Disgusting

        And if the person next to you is leaning forward with their forehead against the wall in front of them, then they are very drunk and will probably vomit very soon.

  16. Mage Silver badge


    I'm glad I wasn't there.

  17. Robert Moore

    badges reminding all tourists to “stand on the f*cking right, stupid”

    Oh how I wish.

    While we are wishing for things that will never happen. I would like a big sign that says "No talking on your phone while on the train.", also a unicorn.

    1. Martin

      I was in Sydney fairly recently, on an escalator. I stood on the right, like a good little Londoner. Turns out in Sydney, you stand on the left and walk on the right. And unlike London, there are no signs to tell you - you just have to know.

      1. Colin Millar

        Many years ago when I lived in ThatLondon my uncle from Edinburgh visited.

        On the down escalator he turned to me with a look of complete bogglement

        "It's a moving staircase - and people are walking on it!!"

      2. MrDamage Silver badge

        > "I was in Sydney fairly recently, on an escalator. I stood on the right, like a good little Londoner. Turns out in Sydney, you stand on the left and walk on the right. And unlike London, there are no signs to tell you - you just have to know."

        Well, it is logical. When on the road, you keep left and overtake on the right.

        >"Many years ago when I lived in ThatLondon my uncle from Edinburgh visited.

        On the down escalator he turned to me with a look of complete bogglement

        "It's a moving staircase - and people are walking on it!!"

        To quote Jerry Seinfield "Walk up the damned thing. It's not a carnival ride!"

      3. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Well Doh!

        You should know that they do things the other way round 'down under'.

      4. Spanners Silver badge


        Standing on the left makes sense.

        The majority of people are right handed and civilised countries drive on the left so that divers passing can shake hands. For the slightly less friendly, you can engage in high speed commerce.

        Why does London do something so counter intuitive as to get people to stand on the right?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      And to be further extended to no talking on your phone or reading your kindle while wandering left and right down a busy pavement.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      While we are wishing for things that will never happen...

      Are you really sure you want people to stand on the right?

  18. Spoonsinger

    So this is only one of those "That there London" things? So nothing to see elsewhere at the moment - da da DA! - slippery slope of crap coming your way. Might be a good idea to build some sort of wall to keep it from infecting other places, or invest in shotguns.

  19. Zog_but_not_the_first

    A very British problem

    I can feel some serious tutting coming on.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: A very British problem

      And a hastily penned letter to The Guardian or The Telegraph (depending on your bent).

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's easy to stop people wanting to talk ..

    .. in a manner that even the traditional avoidance of the annual bath cannot achieve: take along a durian (assuming you can handle the smell yourself).

    It'll be at most two stops and the carriage will be empty. Unless you run into a troupe of Thai visitors, of course, but they tend to be rare :)

    1. Anonymous IV

      Re: It's easy to stop people wanting to talk ..

      > take along a durian

      That will be Yet Another Linux Distro. one supposes...

      Rather more intelligible than Pregnant Pangolin or Weedy Walrus.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It's easy to stop people wanting to talk ..

        I hope there will be a "Rustling Russell"

  21. Primus Secundus Tertius

    I did it once

    I once talked to somebody on the tube. But it was an old university friend I had not seen for many years.

    By coincidence, we met again the following evening on the tube - and had nothing to say to each other.

    1. sandman

      Re: I did it once

      I met an old friend from my home town on the Tube, completely by accident. Naturally we got chatting. Getting off (At the station! OMG, how could you even think that!) she lost a contact lens and we spent the next half hour trying to find it. Last time I've talked to anyone on the Tube. I'm the one with the in-ear phones playing metal, reading a Kindle, with the FOAD badge. If you look at me I'll stare back and smile and smile and smile. You have been warned ;-)

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: I did it once

        If you drop a contact lens on the tube, then you really do not want it back in your eye.

  22. fLaMePrOoF

    Londoners have not been so disturbed since the great Geordie invasion of '96

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Was this related to the Great Tea Trolley Disaster of '67?

  23. Triggerfish

  24. disgruntled yank

    where nary a prospect pleases

    "face the prospect of social approbation"

    Is there something humiliating in having transit riders approve of one?

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I don't mind chatting sometimes

    Middle of the day and some occurrence on the Tube leads to a moment of conviviality. Fine. But yawning along between breakfast coffee at home and first cup of tea in the office is no time to chat. Likewise, between last cup of tea in the office and first coffee at home.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I don't see the problem

    I don't understand why people get so worked up about this. Is it because acting as a hater is funny? OK maybe it is, for the first five minutes.

    Just don't wear the frigging badge, end of story. Am I being unfunny?

    The only real problem I see with the initiative is that even if one wanted, the tube is too loud to actually have a conversation.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I don't see the problem

      I don't understand why people get so worked up about this. Is it because acting as a hater is funny? OK maybe it is, for the first five minutes.

      Just don't wear the frigging badge, end of story. Am I being unfunny?

      I don't think you're deliberately unfunny, but I suspect you may not live in London. It's a very important part of British humour to laugh about your own social quirks, so these foreigners have walked right into one of the major things Londoners laugh about.

      The "complaints" are thus not really complaints, they're windups. People do talk, but it's just more fun to pretend they don't and come up with a sort of cultural rejection of an idea that can only have ever been dreamt up by a non-Londoner. All they've done is make themselves a target of pretty classic British humour. Those who genuinely complain didn't get the joke either, and anyone who expresses hate in this context needs his head examined, or is wilfully trolling.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What's next?

    Elevator chat?

    Urinal chat?

  28. Faceless Man

    Want to chat on public transport?

    You don't need to find someone wearing a badge, just look for the nearest nutter. There's one on every bus and railway carriage across the world. They'll happily while away your long commute with explanations about how their ex-wife was working for a secret multinational organisation above the UN and put thought control wires in all their underwear, and replaced the dog with a robot.

    And always remember, if you don't know who the nutter on your bus or train is, it's probably you!

  29. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

    My brother married a small-town American. His horror, as a Londoner, on introducing her to the tube was very funny.

    As was the reaction of people she said good morning to, as she got onto the carriage. And her reaction at being grumpily ignored.

    The Metro in Brussels used to be similarly grumpy. Plus the buggers never stand aside from the doors to let you out - then wonder why they can't get on the damned train! I did once hold my umbrella horizontally and just barge about ten people backwards out of my way because they were being particularly obstructive. But mostly I fantasised about sharpening the end and becoming Sven the Impaler.

    1. x 7

      "I fantasised about sharpening the end and becoming Sven the Impaler."

      I'm sure I've seen you on xHamster

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      As was the reaction of people she said good morning to, as she got onto the carriage. And her reaction at being grumpily ignored.

      There's something not quite ringing true about this Register article, I mean if you get on a tube to move around central London in the daytime, chances are that the majority of folk riding will not be Londoners, but will be tourists or new residents from around the world. Often in groups and they do talking in their little groups whilst moving around and bumping everyone with their enormous backpacks.

      How do they catch on the the tube etiquette of pretending nobody else exists so quickly? Do they take lessons?

      The lady saying good morning has a strong chance of addressing an affable Kiwi or a friendly Swede and should get a response.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge


        The tube tends to be more relaxed and friendly outside rush hour. In relative terms at least.

        Or if you travel with a cricket hat and huge picnic, you get this sort of secret society of all the other people with enormous picnics converging on Lords or the Oval.

      2. Spanners Silver badge

        The lady saying good morning has a strong chance of addressing an affable Kiwi or a friendly Swede and should get a response.

        What other fruit, vegetables and other foodstuffs might one hold a conversation with?





  30. Tromos

    Whoever came up with this idea...

    ...needs a right good talking to.

  31. cantankerous swineherd

    the poor dears wouldn't last 5 minutes in Barnsley. One is expected to make polite conversation no matter how huge or drunk one's interlocutor may be.

  32. the Jim bloke

    Scope for a counter-campaign

    My only experience of the Tube was on a holiday a long time ago..( at the very time they brought in the no drink bottles on airplanes, Getting through Heathrow as they tried to implement the new security theatre was traumatic, so timestamped quite thoroughly), and I recall noticing nobody speaking on the tube was using english - or at least any version intelligible to me.


    Simply combine the tube-chat badge/logo with the red circled diagonal slash negation symbol (Ghostbusters-like), Variants could include the raised middle digit or a stamped FOAD in the style of MASH. Other designs will emerge as entrepreneurs get hold of the idea.

    Make these available printed on buttons, Tshirts, backpacks whatever. Dodgy street vendors can selll them from the station entrances, adding to the local ambience.

  33. x 7

    Safety issue

    Keeping ones mouth shut on the tube is a safety issue. You don't want all that brake dust, or dust off the pickup shoes getting into your lungs

    Everytime I ride on the tube I have to spend the next three days with a clagged nose while all the black crap gets washed out by the snot

    1. Havin_it

      Re: Safety issue

      Ick. Thanks (not so much) for reminding me of that traumatic recollection of my last trip to The Smoke.

      Looking back, I think that discovery of black snot after an afternoon's moderate tube travel was the pivotal moment at which I said to myself: I will NEVER live or work here.

  34. A_Melbourne

    When I was a teenager and living in London, 40+ years ago, it was quite OK to chat up dolly birds on the underground. But then, in those days London had loads of pretty young things - not like today.

  35. MrDamage Silver badge

    Appropriate apparel to wear in response.

    Would be either this, or this.

  36. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    'Où est le chat?' - 'Dans la metro.'

    Well, get ready - on my next trip to London I will leave trail of terror. (Cue diabolical laughter.)

  37. 9Rune5

    At first I did not realize what the issue was. After all, you caught the crummy bastard who came up with this act of subterfuge, so Shirley he would be dealt with in short order?

    Then it finally dawned on me that the UK parliament abolished capital punishment years ago.

    You all have my deepest sympathies.

  38. lglethal Silver badge

    God I miss London!

    People over here on the continent just have no idea about proper transport etiquette and behavior. They sit there making eye topic, smiling at you, even occasionally, making the dreaded attempt at conversation! "Hallo", even. Dear lord!

    Don't they teach kids anything over here? Everyone knows that the only correct way to act on public transport is to look at the ground or out the window, make absolutely no eye contact with anyone ever, and to shield yourself in a small bubble of personal space, until your spat out at the other end of your journey! Anything else is absolute blasphemy!

  39. 0laf Silver badge

    Makes more sense North of the wall

    This probably makes more sense up here. A "Tube" is an idiot. So "Tube Chat" makes sense in a Scottish context.

    And I live in a little village, although it is expected that you will nod, smile or say "hello/morning" to each person you pass, thou shalt not engage in actual conversation unless you know that person.

  40. Cyberelic

    I always walk on the left

    I always walk on the left, with my left hand holding the escalator rail. My right hand always carries my stick which I use for support. (and occasionally prodding idiots out of the way)


  41. Tim Seventh

    attempted 1 tube-chat FAIL

    Clearly they haven't done their research/ homework on psychology, animal behavioral biology, and social interaction.

    Based on psychology, the tube (subway), elevator (lift), escalator and other public transportation all are consideration a box, outside of the rider's comfort zone.

    Based on animal behavior, we humans like to form groups, small interact-able groups. Humans have done so long ago when finding allies and mates. That's how close friends are formed. Similarly, those outside of the circles are taken with caution and default as outsiders or enemies. Tiger, birds, bees, a whole lots of animals do the same (except penguins because if they don't they freeze to death).

    When we force or place random strangers into the same box, it become harder to interaction both due to the comfort zone and too many people. The more we put in, the fewer the interaction because they all act as outsiders/ bystanders (psychology). If there were fewer people, there may be some interaction possible.

    One exception is when those aren't strangers but known friends, then it wouldn't matter the extra tube-chatter talking with them.

    Another exception would be the reason these guys do it, too friendly or those that put their guards down (beer anyone?). The only problem is the chat they gave only made the uncomfortable even more uncomfortable.

    If they want to interact with random strangers, they need to lower their own guards as well as to let the stranger feel comfortable. Need an example? Get a city map and ask for directions. If you failed to get anyone to talk, either you're doing it wrong or the city doesn't need a map.

    Also don't ask anything from strangers that have one of the following event them, headphones on, facebook-ing, gaming or sleeping. They are enjoying themselves, so stop poking our comfort zone.

  42. Dr Patrick J R Harkin

    If I lived in London...

    By now I would be stood at the entrance to Kings Cross tube selling "PISS OFF AND LEAVE ME ALONE" badges for a quid a throw. I reckon by the end of the rush hour, I could retire.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In London, seriously?

    To be honest, I think that instead of these "chat" buttons, you need some to give to Londoners saying "have some manners, you miserable twunts"! I love visiting London and have lost count of how many times I've been there (first class on a train from Manchester to London is good), but the tube is chock-full of people who would push their own frail grandmas onto the underground tracks to gain that extra second of time exiting a train. The British on the whole are OK, it's only in gaggles at footie matches or London underground that they becomes wankers.

  44. lukewarmdog

    The Tube is your own personal hell (or heaven) and isn't there to be interrupted.

    Unless you want it to be. Maybe you want a chat. Except nobody else wants to hear you chat what can only be complete rubbishy small talk. "Oh i see you have a badge, so do I, do you live in London? Me neither, on your way to work (in the morning) or home (in the evening), what do you do in work".

    You're now interfering with my peace and quiet and as the Tube is fairly noisy, you're probably compensating by speaking loudly so now everyone in the carriage can hear you. This just isn't a great place to have a chat.

    A "fancy a coffee" badge sponsored by Starbucks would be a better idea, a "Trafalgar Square at 4 o'clock chat" badge could be performance art, a "20% OAP discount at Sam's fish and chip shop between 12 and 2" could well drive custom if the old dears could read all that on a small badge.

    To me "Tube chat" is like "Motorway chat".. the impracticality of it should have nixed this from the outset altho it has made for good reading of aggrieved travellers.

  45. Digitall


    Real life malware in waiting..this is. Fuck off!

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Where you can find the most beautiful women in the world

    Scowling at their own feet

  47. ultrastarx1

    solve this issue fast

    print clone stickers

    visit the toilets, place on doors n above urinals

    then we can all crap and piss and chat about, well what comes to mind, the price of a ticket, over crowding?

    Sadly as i think everyone should be banned from speaking, passing pleasantries, discussing the weather, talking about what food they have eaten, may eat in the future..

    Every person i've ever worked with could have been gagged or dead,the amount of use the jibbering proles are.

    So anyway needless to say, unless your showing a bit of cleavage, and your nice and single and flirty, take your words elsewhere..

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward



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