Transport for London launches "etiquette poetry" competition to get commuters behaving better on the Tube

Catherine Neilan
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Let's get back to the good old days when we could read smut on the Tube without fear of loud music (Source: Getty)

The pen is mightier than the sword. That proverb was apparently created by a man who avoided execution by persuading his jailer to kill another prisoner, so he probably knew a thing or two about the strength of the written word.

And it's that power that Transport for London is hoping to harness for good as part of its Travel Better London campaign. Though we're not convinced what Ahiqar had in mind was amateur “etiquette poetry” as a way of cutting down on delays.
Yes, the latest wheeze from TfL is this competition. The winner will have their poem and a “cartoon version of themselves” (because poets are too ugly for photos?) splashed across the Tube and bus network throughout London as part of a special poster campaign to encourage commuters out of bad habits.
Possible topics have been set out. Budding bards can choose from the following:
  • Not dropping litter
  • Pulling the passenger alarm unnecessarily
  • Allowing others off the bus and train first
  • Moving down inside the carriage
  • Not holding doors open
  • Ensuring priority seats are offered to those who need them
  • Not playing loud music
A special tumblr page has been set up for passengers-turned-poets to submit their entries “saying how small changes can improve journeys”. A panel including the young poet laureate for London, Aisling Fahey, will select the most original entry.
Artist McBess will create a new cartoon to go with the poem, featuring the winning writer in the drawing.
Here at City A.M., we like to think we have a creative bent (or rather, I was told to write one by my editor) so here's my first attempt:
There was a young girl who dropped litter
In the Tube carriage until someone hit her
She went down like a stone
Lost her brand new iPhone
And now each time she travels, feels bitter
And my second:
As I was going to St Ives
I met a man listening to The Hives
Played so loud I heard each word
Even though I would have preferred
To read my copy of Very Good Lives*
If that doesn't stop people from dropping empty crisp packets I don't know what will. Although of course, if you have some better suggestions, please leave a comment.

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