How I Silenced the Train Carriage Menace; STANDARD REPORTER CHALLENGES COMMUTERS TO GET OFF THOSE NUISANCE MOBILES

Article excerpt

Byline: PATRICK SAWER

" . . . LOVE you loads, bye, yeah, bye." "I'm on the train."

"Honestly, the meeting ran late. I'll be back soon." Calls to girlfriends, to the office, to wives and lovers, the chatter of what should be private conversations fills the carriage.

From the sharp-suited man barking instructions into his handset to the giggling teenager recounting last night's escapades, being forced to listen to someone else's mobile phone call is the bane of modern travel.

But what if we asked them, politely, to hang up?

Standard columnist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown did just that on a train journey and received a round of applause from the rest of the carriage as the offender sheepishly ended the call.

So what would be the reaction on a typical London commuter train to a similar request? To find out, I boarded the 9.15am Victoria to East Croydon service.

There was no shortage of people on their mobiles, but most seemed rather embarrassed about it. Hands cupped round receivers, they whispered into their handsets.

Michael Fatyga, a Hammersmith and Fulham council officer, looked mortified when his phone started ringing.

How would he react to being asked to ring off in the middle of a conversation?

"No problem," he said, stuffing the offending handset into his jacket pocket. "I hate talking on the phone if I'm on a train or bus anyway. …