In a classic joke from the 1980s that summarises British suburban life as only she can, Victoria Wood said, "Last time I went Intercity there were a couple across the aisle having sex. Of course, this being a British train, nobody said anything. When they finished, they both lit up a cigarette and this woman stood up and said, 'Excuse me [uptight voice], I think you'll find this is a non-smoking compartment'."
I don't know if Victoria Wood is big in Vienna, but this is just the sort of awkwardness that sensible transport chiefs there are aiming to prevent by imposing £42 fines on public snoggers. They haven't just plucked this out of thin air, you understand; the ruling follows a survey of activities that most annoy other passengers, and also bans talking loudly on mobile phones and eating smelly food such as kebabs. It comes after passengers reported seeing nudity, sex and a horse on public transport. (Not in the same incident; this is Vienna, not Clapham High Street on a Saturday night.)
I know what some of you are thinking (you perverts): it's fine to snog in public because snogging is not a sexual act. Oh, really? So, do you kiss your mother like that? Trust me: if your tongue is in somebody's mouth in a non-sexual way, one or both of you is doing it wrong. And if you're doing it so that other passengers can hear you, you don't need to get a room, you need to get a life, you exhibitionists. I'm not just saying this because I am a tragic lonely person with nobody to snog on the Tube – at least, not any more. On the contrary: my husband is hotter than your husband, but I just don't feel the need to rub everybody's nose in it.
This welcome news for nice, quiet, polite commuters comes in the week that the Game of Thrones actor Richard Madden had his picture posted on a website called "mentakingup2muchspaceonthetrain". It shows photographs of men with their legs spread wide, taking up two or even three seats at once. I've heard the argument for having to do this, and it's hard to summarise delicately. But guys, how can we put this? With your crotch on display to a packed commuter train, we can plainly see that you don't need that much space for it. You'll also notice that large-breasted women don't feel the need to spread their arms across the seats on either side of them.
I'm usually a very liberal and relaxed person, but something about being squeezed into a small, hot space with dozens of other stressed people is enough to make anyone want to start banning things. As well as snogging, shouting, smelly eating and crotch-baring, how about audible music, excessively bulky coats, children standing on seats while their empty pushchairs take up standing room, and big scary dogs? Unless of course we could combine them all and create an instant punishment that involves a snogging couple, a guy with his legs wide open, a misplaced kebab and a bitey animal. Are you grimacing? Well so am I when I see you sucking face!