Mardy Mabel’s Public Transport Archetypes:  “The Only Child”

In Mardy Mabel’s second installment in the Public Transport Archetypes series, she looks at the irritating species, The Only Child…

*cough cough; does best David Attenborough voice*

And here we are, at the commuter’s natural habitat: The Train Station. If we just hide behind this broken bin, we have the perfect vantage point in which to see this breed in action during their ritualistic early morning routine. Presently, they all look quite similar: with their venti fair-trade wet cappuccino in hand, many fuss over picking up their free newspapers whilst others sit on benches applying make-up. Some tails twitch, anxious that someone has stood in their regular spot, whilst others keep their cards close to their chest, turning their attention to their iPhone and pretending they’re not a threat. This is the calm before the storm.

The warning horn is then honked as the arrival of the (probably late) train is announced, followed by its arthritic crawl in to the station. Ears prick up and elbows become sharp.

A gentle metamorphosis occurs as we begin to see a differentiation in the commuter species. Whilst some people wait for passengers to disembark, others impatiently force their way to the front of the queue – leaving those who enjoy a good old tutt to sing the song of their martyrdom.

But there’s one type who thinks they’re wily. Not only that, but they also think they’re sort of invisible too. Here we have “The Only Child.” Fueled by their sense of entitlement, this narcissistic creature pushes themselves on to the train as if God made it just for them. Once on, their selfish barging triggers their homing device which zones in on the priority seat and magnetically pulls them towards it. If empty they plonk themselves down like they have the divine right to sit there despite not looking like a fat woman, a woman co-joined with another person or a man with a cane auditioning for “Top Hat” (as the priority seat picture would suggest.) One of the most frustrating breeds of the commuter types, The Only Child began life with the amazing ability to clearly pronunciate the words, “mine mine mine.”

As the train trundles on and slows down at subsequent stations, others will naturally squeeze on to the locomotive – and it’s more than likely that another Only Child will home in on the priority seat and give the occupant a pissed off stare. It’s often an interesting stand-off – like two spoilt children with a Meccano set at playgroup.

The Only Child’s tactic to retain possession of the seat includes being very busy and important and supposedly unaware of people’s needs around them by composing important emails on their BlackBerry, being preoccupied as they arrogantly flick through the pages of the Financial Times – and pretending to be asleep.

However, it’s inevitable that there are others aside from The Only Child who want to sit in that seat too. Curiously they are the commuters who actually do look like a fat woman, a woman co-joined with another person or a man with a cane auditioning for “Top Hat”. The underdogs of the commuter world, they nervously hover around The Only Child, feeling vulnerable and as if they cannot ask The Only Child to move the fuck out of their seat. In fact, many wear badges to indicate their entitlement – but this silent voice is often not heard.

*drops David Attenborough voice as becomes more wound up and slightly hysterical*

But, my friends, this is a jungle and you have to roar to stand up for yourself. Be careful about the way you do this, though, otherwise you’ll just end up looking like another commuter twat – like the “Train Prefect” who bellows at others to move down the carriage.

Firstly, try and loudly but calmly ask The Only Child if you can sit in their seat. Point at your ailment to make it a bit obvious. Shocked that someone has actually been brave and opened their mouth, they’ll often just move. And if they don’t then they’ve made themselves look like a selfish twat in front of everyone else in the carriage, leaving you to say something like, “No you’re right – your ego needs this seat more.”

If you’re feeling a bit more belligerent, try one of the below:

(for the women with bulging stomachs)

1) *prefixed with a steely glare* “You really don’t want to mess with my hormones.”

2) “I had sex so I could specifically sit in that seat.”

3) And for those who haven’t been careless with their contraception, you could simply give the Only Child a little slap around the chops and tell them that you know they’re not really sleeping / engrossed in their self-important emails.

4) Or there’s the one I enjoyed using so much recently after I broke my wrist: “Would you prefer it if I sat on your lap?” Try and be slightly creepy with that one too, like you’re really enjoying just thinking about the image.

After this even the most abhorrent Only Child will move, albeit with a huff and some remark about how they’re so tired after having spent the whole day ordering people around to work on their extension in Herne Hill.

Yet still some just stay put.


At least you tried; you’ve done everything you rationally can to justify those empowering expletives which are just seconds from tumbling out of your mouth after the red mist slowly closes down…


Mardy Mabel’s Public Transport Archetypes: “The Train Prefect”

One of the most frustrating things which life has dished on to my plate recently has been a bout of increased train travel. Naturally, I’d rather stick hot pins in my eyes than spend such a huge portion of my life in the company of all of the irritating commuters who plague the buses, trains and tubes of our nation – so, in favour of saving my eyesight, I decided to go all Attenborough and undertake a behavioural study of these public transport archetypes. 

To start us off, this instalment looks at that loathsome commuter – The Train Prefect…


Hello everyone and thank you for joining this lecture on The Train Prefect. I’ve prepared us a nice overhead projector presentation to clearly illustrate the matter we’re dealing with here.

Hold on one second, just let me switch this on… *fumbles*… here we go…

*OHP bursts in to life and shows a picture of a ridiculously pompous man trying to fit himself on to a train which has absolutely no more capacity*

This, ladies and gentleman, is what is known as the Train Prefect. A species which matures during their school career where their ability to be good at both academia and sport is rewarded with a badge and the permission to be a sanctimonious twat. This type slowly develops over two years where the authorisation to pull other pupils up on running in the corridor, swearing in the canteen and doing hand-jobs behind the art block, provides them with a moral high ground and an automatic sense of superiority.

Upon receiving their GCSE results (which they would have passed with flying fucking colours), they’re released in to the wider world to live a life where the prefect ethos will always be at their core. As such sanctimoniousness is an abhorrent character trait, they learn to hide it well. But, beware, it can rear its ugly head at any point…

You might know someone in adulthood who you really hit it off with. Let’s say its Clare from work. Oh God, she’s a laugh, isn’t she? So witty and always up for a giggle; you two just really click. You’ve gone for after-work bevvies with her and you just know that, wherever you end up working, you’ll probably always remain friends. But then you have reason to get the train together – and, like a werewolf changing in the full moon, she’ll undergo an ugly metamorphosis which will make you question your judgement on anything in life. Remember: be careful, they walk among us.

So, you’ll be on the platform, and it’ll start with a few tuts coming from Clare’s direction. Which, you know, you can kind of understand because there’s some stupid cow sodcasting The Saturdays whilst rooting around in her cheap handbag, jabbing you with her bony elbows. Then the train will come along – and it’ll be absolutely rammed. Clare’s blood pressure rises as she grabs on to the train door handles and hoists herself up in to the train. There’s no room for her, clearly. And then, before you know it, she’s bellowing in self-righteous tones:

“Can you move down the train please?”

The bile begins to rise in your stomach as the horror that you’re friends with a prick of a Train Prefect dawns on you.

Then, as if by some sort of magnetism powered by twat points gained from possessing long-term travel passes, other Train Prefects appear, gravitate towards one another and rush in to support. Well, they’re actually technically Deputy Train Prefects – because they wouldn’t have ordinarily have had the guts to shout out in the first place, but are more than happy to put their two pennies in once a Train Prefect has set off the initial flare. These are the type of people who were only good at academia (not sport) at school, hence being slightly lower down the prefect pecking order.

So, anyway, the Deputy Train Prefects start chirping in, one by one, slowly gathering confidence, “Err yeah – move down the carriage.” Some of them even gallop down the side of the train, manically thumping on the outside of the windows like a foaming diseased from 28 Days Later, moaning the mantra in near-unison, “Move down the carriage. Move down the carriage. Move down the carriage.”

But the thing is… there is no room you short-sighted twats.

Granted sometimes there’ll be someone inconsiderately taking up the room-space of two other people as they stand in the aisle, idly flicking through their phone, pretending that they can’t see they’re in the way – but more often than not THERE GENUINELY ISN’T ANY ROOM. Can’t you see everybody has their face squashed uncomfortably up against someone else’s face, inhaling their dog shit morning breath?

There ensues some awkward shuffling from commuters as they try and accommodate the Train Prefect pricks who still can’t control themselves, smugly shooting out other comments like, “We’ve all got to get to work you know”[1]. This shuffling might allow one or two more people on to the train – and the Train Prefect will then stand there smugly for the rest of the train journey, thinking they’ve won the battle.

My advice? Don’t move. In fact, try and make yourself as big as possible by inching your feet out a little bit further, puffing your chest out and standing at an awkward angle with your elbows jutting out. Stand on that spot like a stubborn limpet just to prove a point. If possible, turn around and fix the Train Prefect with a dead stare. If the moment takes you, feel free to spit back at them, “Make me. And no I won’t go and eat my crisps in the playground”. I guarantee you that they’ll be so shocked that anyone has finally stood up to them that they’ll just stammering like a muted wreck. And maybe they’ll turn around and target someone else. Someone weaker. But if we all do this – yes, even you shy train types – then we can drive this species out. There’s power in numbers, my friend. And I’d do anything to see the Train Prefect extinct.


In the next instalment of Mardy Mabel’s Public Transport Archetypes we’ll take a look at “The Farter.”

Or maybe not. Someone else might have pissed me off more by that point…


[1] Which is then repeated by the murmuring Deputy Train Prefects.