Amid all the doom, gloom and horribleness – oops, I mean festive cheer – I did see something that really cheered me up last weekend. We’d been to the theatre (and more of that in a post coming soon) and had run to catch the train home. We bundled on, followed by a crowd of others. Among them was a thickset, beetle-browed individual who seemed to be having an argument with a slight woman. She sat down, and he loomed over her, in a very threatening way, muttering things which I was very glad I couldn’t hear properly. It wasn’t clear at first what was going on – were they in a relationship that wasn’t going to last until Christmas? Had she done something awful before they got on the train? It soon became clear that they’d never met before and the man was targeting her because he was nasty, belligerent and drunk.
I wasn’t the only one watching with anxiety as this scene unfolded. Thank goodness, there was a group of young men who had noticed the woman shrinking in her seat as the man continued to mutter and loom over her. They slowly edged round the man until they were standing between him and the woman. Once she was out of his sight, he seemed to forget about her. Unfortunately, he then started to pick on one of the men.
It was one of those horrible occasions when you could feel the levels of testosterone rising. The situation was lurching, seemingly inexorably, towards a fight. Luckily, just when it looked as though the young man had had more than enough of turning the other cheek towards this idiotic hulk, the hulk’s friends came over to drag him away and defuse the situation.
All those of us in the carriage who’d had our eyes glued firmly to our phone screens throughout the incident now looked up and exchanged quick glances of relief. One of the men turned to the lady, who was still looking pretty scared, and asked quietly if she was ok. They stayed in position, effectively screening and protecting her from her ridiculous and contemptible aggressor.
What nice, kind men. What a lovely thing to do, for no gain and at considerable personal risk. And how heartening to see that the age of chivalry is not dead.