Offering your seat to somebody else on the train is, from my experience, as likely to upset/annoy them as it is to make them happy. What if that baby bump is a pot belly? Or that old person is exceptionally proud of their level of physical fitness?
69 year-old Bar Standards Board (BSB) chair Baroness Ruth Deech (pictured right) is exactly the sort of veteran alpha-type who I’d studiously ignore if I spotted her on public transport while I was in possession of a seat.
But that would be a mistake, because when it comes to commuting, it turns out that Deech likes to be treated like an old lady...
Writing on her blog last week, the BSB chief provides the following instructions to any seated young men who spot her on the train (worth reading if you're a youthful barrister who does Deech's Oxford to London commute):
"And as for getting a seat – the old tradition that it was good manners for children or young men to offer their seat to old ladies (like me) who can’t get one has gone. On trains and the underground, I have perfected the technique of lurching into the seated and complaining until someone (usually non-British) does stand up for me."
Fair enough. Deech has, after all, been under rather a lot of stress recently following Radio 4’s July take-down of the BSB. But shouldn’t this icon of feminism in law expect the same benevolence from seated young women?