Mary Dejevsky: Oh so civilised, but how necessary?

Notebook

Share
Related Topics

The paper's in-house lawyers have advised me to be less exact about where this took place and with which number bus, lest it jeopardise any proceedings that might be in progress. I would add that I'd imbibed a glass (or two) of particularly excellent champagne over the previous couple of hours, so my testimony might not be as reliable as it should be. But what I witnessed one evening last week was this.

I saw a man – dapper, young to middle-aged, in a well-cut suit, shirt and tie, with an ID of sorts around his neck, suggesting he was in regular employment – being arrested by two large police officers. Before he was handcuffed (quite discreetly, no New York style "perp" walks here), there was a conversation from which it emerged that the arrest was connected with the perfectly normal London bus that was standing empty of passengers at its stop.

Inside were two more police officers and a man who appeared to be the driver. He, the police officers told their captive, had been deeply insulted by what had been said to him and had given a statement. The officers said they quite understood that bus drivers' behaviour could make passengers angry, but that what had been said was an offence. It was not hard to surmise that the alleged remark, or remarks, had been racist. And that what had precipated this outburst had been something that increasingly happens with London buses and is, indeed, infurating.

Suddenly, without apparent rhyme or reason, a recorded announcement says: "The destination of this bus has changed; listen for further announcements". You then find yourself turfed off well before your destination, and probably at a stop where there is no alternative bus or method of transport, and you have no choice but to wait for the next – inevitably overcrowded – service. If you are really unlucky, this can happen twice or even three times on the same route. Unless you know to ask for a "transfer", you have to pay each time.

I should stress that everyone in this little pavement drama conducted themselves in exemplary fashion. The police were polite; they explained what they were doing and why. The man who was arrested was also polite and offered no resistance, nor the slightest trace of bolshiness. As it all wound down, another squad car sped up, and he was whisked off to the police station.

You could say that it says something good about this country and this city that a racist insult against someone just doing his job – let's assume this is what it was about – is treated as seriously as it is. Yet I couldn't help feeling, too, that a full-dress arrest involving at least six police officers, two squad cars and not a little police time, might be a bit excessive. Would an apology, written and in person, plus a donation of, say £100 to the bus drivers' benevolent fund, really not suffice?







DSK's loss could prove the Delors clan's gain



The young French writer Tristane Banon may or may not know it, but in belatedly bringing an attempted rape case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn, over what she says was a particularly nasty encounter in 2002, she could be advancing the cause of women in France in more ways than one. Banon's case, initiated even as the sex charges against the former IMF head threatened to fall apart in New York, means that – for all Strauss-Kahn's denials – he is unlikely to clear his name before the French Socialists have to settle on a candidate for next year's presidential election.

The chief beneficiary of this – aside, of course, from Nicolas Sarkozy who is fully expected to seek re-election – is the current head of the Socialist Party, Martine Aubry. All that had stopped her seeking the nomination before was a year-old pact she had with Strauss-Kahn, agreeing not to stand against him. Last week she threw her hat in the ring – as fate would have it, just before news broke that the case against DSK in New York might be running into trouble. Within hours, Banon's lawyer announced in Paris that he had lodged papers on his client's behalf.

The electoral prospects for Aubry – who, as the daughter of Jacques Delors, strikes fear and dread into the hearts of British Eurosceptics – are by no means hopeless. A serious politician, she has been a highly competent mayor of Lille and pulled the Socialist Party back together after the disappointing and divisive presidential bid of Segolene Royal. It would be poetic justice if DSK's fall indirectly brought France its first female head of state.







My small contribution to the big clean-air society



Among the hazards of any tourist-packed destination, such as London, are the fleets of coaches that drop their wide-eyed passengers off on double-yellow lines, then remain there, noisy and polluting, with their engines on. One day I plucked up the courage to challenge the driver, as the engine of his behemoth rumbled away. "Excuse me," I said, "could you possibly turn the engine off?" He said "No". I said that it was an offence (which it is, punishable with a derisory £20 penalty). He said "No" again and asked what it was to do with me. I said that, as a local resident, I was fed up with the fumes.

So I was pleased to learn that the Mayor, Boris Johnson, was lobbying to have the fine increased to £120. But I was even more pleased when I hit upon what has so far been a sure-fire remedy. Rather than remonstrate with the driver, I went to the front of the bus, took out my notebook and wrote down the number plate. And the company details on the side. Then I took out my phone and made as if to take a photo – which, frankly, I hardly know how to do. By then, though, there was only a vacant stretch of yellow-lined road. I'm not sure whether this would be defined as officious vigilantism or a small contribution to the big society. Either way, it works.





React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Experienced Special Needs Support Worker

£12 - £14 per hour: Recruitment Genius: We are looking for someone to join a s...

Recruitment Genius: Content Assistant / Copywriter

£15310 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Sewing Technician

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This market leader in Medical Devices is...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£24000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Situated in the heart of Bradfo...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Lily-Rose Depp is not 'all grown up' - she is a 15 year old girl who should not be modelling for an adult fashion magazine

Harriet Williamson
 

If I were Prime Mininster: I would legislate for abortion on demand and abolish VAT on sanitary products

Caroline Criado-Perez
Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence