Friday, March 07, 2008

"Here, please, after you, no, I insist.."

On the Piccadilly Line this morning, sitting sideways, I looked up from my book to find my eyes adjacent to the midriff of a young woman and right in the middle of one of the most pressing social questions of the day.
Is that midriff pleasantly rounded in a manner that Rubens would have appreciated? Or is it three months pregnant?
Do I allow my eyes to travel further north to see if she's looking at me in a meaningful way suggesting that I should give up my seat to her?
Or, knowing that I'm due to get off soon, do I sit tight and keep reading?
And what do I do if the bloke next to me makes the decision that she is pregnant and gives up his seat to her?
And why am I suddenly really tense and reading the same line again and again?
I suggest a system of badges. Possibly a huge rosette saying "Hooray! I'm pregnant!"
Or would these go the way of disabled parking stickers and end up being appropriated by women who just fancy taking the weight off their feet?
Or maybe men could wear a badge saying "Will stand if need-be. Please ask".


  1. Anonymous9:35 am

    An ex- work colleague, who was a chunky lass, wore a 'baby on board' badge when she was with child. A brilliant idea from, I think, Mothercare.


  2. TFL are having a campaign about this as we speak, sadly my overland train each day is so packed as to make the whole thing hypothetical!

  3. Anonymous9:44 am

    I once went to an interview with a well known US owned all pwerful software company that begins with the letter M. The recruiter came out to greet me in reception and as a way of breaking the ice I said 'oh great, you're pregnant -when are you due'.

    (yes you've guessed it)

    To which she answered:

    I'm not pregnant.

    Needless to say...........

  4. If memory serves, the London Tube will give you a free badge saying 'Baby on Board' if you're pregnant. And I gather the 'priority seating' stickers are being amended to include a picture of a lady with a bump.
    But to be on the safe side, no harm in offering the seat anyway - at worst, you might be accused of being a sexist beast, though I've never actually seen that happen, or heard a first-hand account of it...

  5. Anonymous10:57 am

    Oh I feel your pain, Dave. If in doubt, get up as though preparing for the next stop (and get off if necessary). Or just always stand.

    If you are a blusher like me it's worse cos offering your seat gets everyone looking at you.

  6. A friend of mine had a similar thing when buying an ice cream - the Italian chap in the van snapped off the end of cornet, placed a dollop of vanilla on top and passed this mini cone to her while patting his stomach and making mutterings about 'for de bambino'

    It went in the bin, and she went on a diet.

  7. I'm not convinced by the "be on the safe side" policy because if I stand up for one particular woman everybody else will look at her to see why I've done it for her and not anybody else.

  8. I've been on the Tube with a pregnant friend recently and, despite clocking their condition - she was quite clearly up the duff - no one got up to offer a seat.

    Perhaps they just couldn't be so sure. Or they were simply ill-mannered.

  9. Anonymous9:51 pm

    I can't remember who it was, but I distinctly remember the punchline "I'd rather see a pregnant woman standing than a fat girl crying".
    Mrs Skirky was on the tube today when a pregnant lady solved the problem by simply asking a gentleman "Do you mind if I sit down?". She was about to offer, by the way.

  10. Anonymous9:58 pm

    I sympathise totally. I will always stand up if a woman is clearly 'about to drop', but I have also made the fatal mistake of asking someone when 'they're due', only to be told, "Err, I'm not!".

    The rest of the journey was pretty excruciating, as you can imagine

  11. I've just returned from a couple of years in Japan, where they use exactly the kind of badge you mention:

    although when my wife was pregnant there the only people who gave up a seat for her were ladies who I suspect had been through the same thing...

  12. I am beyond caring if anyone can't tell if I'm fat or pregnant, I'm happy to dishonestly take a seat...

  13. Anonymous11:56 pm

    I'm still trying to come to terms with the idea of getting a seat on the Tube... When were you travelling David, 5.45am? Whenever I use the Tube I'm always grateful for enough standing room to allow me to breathe at a different rate to the person squashed up against me.

    David, Liverpool