Pregnant women on the London Underground are to be offered "Baby on board" badges so that other passengers know if it's appropriate to offer them a seat. The etiquette surrounding offering seats can be complicated - so here are some suggestions of other badges that might be in order.
1. NO BABY ON BOARD - subtext: You don't have to be pregnant to have a belly, and in fact if you offer me a seat, you run a very real risk of irritating me. I'm not pregnant, this is just me, OK? As Magazine reader Pat B confesses: "A couple of weeks ago I offered an apparently pregnant lady my seat, only to be told she wasn't pregnant. She was, however, furious I'd noticed her less-than-svelte tummy. Bring on the badges asap!"
2. HOW MUCH MORE OBVIOUS CAN IT BE? - subtext: I'm pregnant OK? I'm really pregnant, and I shouldn't need any kind of badge, as it couldn't be plainer than the nose on my face. My back's killing me, I'm hot and bothered, and frankly, getting out of bed in the morning in my condition is a miracle. Please don't make me feel pathetic by relying on you being nice - just stand up.
3. GREY, NOT OLD - subtext: Just because I've got grey hair doesn't mean I'm a fogey. Please don't offer me a seat, it will make me think that I look really old.
4. THINK OF YOUR GRANDMA - subtext: I've got grey hair! I'm a lot older than you and, though I wouldn't dream of saying so, probably a lot wiser too. So there's a good boy/girl, show a bit of respect. This whole commuting lark is exhausting and I could really do with a sit-down.
5. I'M REALLY CONCENTRATING - subtext: Look, I don't want to get into this whole standing up business. So I'm reading really hard. Once you start even thinking about offering someone your seat, it fast becomes an ethical minefield. So I'm reading, oblivious to it all.
6. JUST ASK - subtext: Look I'm a nice guy/girl. I'm only too happy to do the decent thing, but we're all adult enough nowadays to ask politely if we want something. Relying on all the old codes of chivalry is silly in this day and age.
7. ASK ALL YOU LIKE - subtext: I'm not standing up. I don't care who you are, or what state you're in. Working and commuting is hell, so it's everyone for themselves. If you can't stand the heat, stay in your kitchen at home.
8. I'M SINGLE - subtext: I'll give up my seat to any fair maiden - although if you're pregnant, forget it - as it'll initiate some eye contact and who knows where things might go from there.
9. GIVE ME A BREAK - subtext: I'm not pregnant, I'm not old, I haven't got shopping or a young child with me. But please, for reasons I've got no intention of going in to here, I could really do with a break.
10. I'M HEMMED IN - subtext: I can see, from a short distance, you're in need of a sit-down and I would give up my seat, but there are several other people in the way and it would just be too disruptive. The bloke with the iPod headphones, sitting next to where you're standing, he should offer his seat.
Here are some of your comments or suggestions for badges that would suit you. The debate is now closed.
Please wake me up at Hammersmith/Paddington/Queens Park (delete as applicable)
Ian Hepworth, Pickering, North Yorkshire, UK, exiled Londoner
I USED TO COMMUTE AND ON ONE OF MY RARE VISITS BACK TO LONDON AM WATCHING YOU SUFFER FROM MY SEAT TO REMIND MYSELF HOW SENSIBLE A DECISION I MADE TO ESCAPE THIS HELL. Subtext: does such a big badge need a subtext?
murf, Rural Essex, UK
It's a nice idea, but it won't make any difference. I am a disabled woman - fairly obviously disabled as I am still quite young and walk with a stick - and I regularly have to ask / beg people to get up on tubes and trains. If a stick doesn't automatically get someone to offer you a seat, why would a badge?!
Nichola, West Sussex
Suggestion for badge (not that it would apply to me, of course!): I'VE GOT PMT. Subtext: Just do it. Just give me a seat. Or else.
Rosanne Richardson, Nottingham
I'M NOT FROM LONDON. Subtext: don't be so defensive - if you're pregnant and I'm kind to you it doesn't mean I think you're pathetic.
adam, dundee, UK
I HAVE A HANGOVER - Standing, Breathing, Keeping down my breakfast and everything else is difficult... so please quietly offer me a seat... please...
Matt Jones, London
How about, "If You Can Read This You're Too Close"? Would be good in the unbearable heat of a tube train during the Summer.
"I've not washed today" - It would be a great way of knowing who to avoid in the carriage, as we've all ended tight up against someone with smelly clothes & rancid armpits. It would also be brilliant for the great unwashed, as they would end up with a carriage to themselves.
Christopher Frost, Nottingham, UK
How about a badge saying, "Yes, I'm younger than you, but you're only 45 and are perfectly fit enough to stand on your own two feet. I'll give it up only to people who have a genuine need and aren't trying to bypass the 'first come, first served' rule just because they have 15 years on me."
Dominic, Santiago de Chile, Chile
I'M IN PAIN - subtext: Although there are no obvious signs, I am sitting in silent agony because I sprained my ankle playing rugby last night. I would ordinarily give up my seat but it hurts me to stand up. Please stop looking at me like that and muttering about the youth of today.
Alex Nunn, London
"yes, my shopping is so important it needs its own seat, even if you ARE standing"
I'M NOT A NUTTER - I may look a little odd, but I'm not about to start ranting and raving, and likewise not about to randomly attack you. It's fine to make eye contact, and I don't mind giving up my seat to you, just don't back away in fear when I look at you.
Ian Ferguson, Southampton, UK
I'M A STRANGER IN TOWN - subtext: It's no use asking me the way to anywhere. (sub-subtext: This is not an invitation to mug me!).
Gerry T, Faringdon
TUBE SURFER - subtext: I only stand for fun. My own competition. Can I keep standing without needing a seat, a hand-hold or falling on to other commuters? Seats are for wimps.
Mark Williams, Benfleet, Essex
Fine As I Am - subtext: Regardless of my condition, please do not offer me a seat, as the thought of coming into contact with one of those biologically hazardous flea cushions makes my skin crawl.
Rich, Loughboro, UK
"I'm not from round here". Subtext: I don't travel on the tube every day. I need to read the signs to see which stop to get off at. I may even need to consult a map. Please don't push me from behind, kick my shins, or loudly tut as I hesitate for a microsecond before I find the direction of the exit. I'm doing my best, okay?!
Kirsty , Crawley, UK
"I'm not weird just chivalrous."
Subtext: I can see that you deserve a seat but there are so many people sitting down who could offer their seats but haven't that I'm worried that if I offer you my seat people will think I'm weird
Jeff, Not a commuter, UK
I'm Asleep. Honest.
Clive, Hampton Wick, UK
If you don't give me your seat, the chances are I will fall onto my behind/your lap within 5 minutes anyway. So in advance - no I'm not hurt, and sorry.
Emma, Hull, UK
IV'E WET MY PANTS - subtext: you don't want to sit in my seat or the one either side of me, so give me some space, these seats are small enough.
Give me some space. I am carrying a large backpack so keep away unless you want your head knocked off as I turn around on the train.
Framces Blanchard, London
"Off Next Stop" - subtext: Right, I can see you want my seat, but I had to wait three stops to get it myself, OK, and I'm going to enjoy it, it's just one more stop, you can have it when I'm gone, just chill till then and get off my back.
Alex Swanson, Milton Keynes, UK
SPRAWL SPACE - subtext: There's five of you and one of me, but if all five of you get up, I could lay down, have a doze, maybe even play on my Game Boy if I've got the time. You may be sitting down reading your copy of Financial Times, but my feet are killing me and my legs could do with some horizontal time.
Ben Paddon, Luton, England
"Would your baggage kindly get up and offer me its seat?" Subtext: Look, this is the 6.05 from Waterloo to Southampton, it's packed and you've occupied the last seat with a huge suitcase. Move the damn thing before I blow!
Justin Rowles, Southampton, UK
While on a tube train in Tokyo, I stood up to offer my seat to a heavily pregnant lady. She blushed and declined, by which time a businessman had already sat down in my place.
I was later informed by my host that I had committed a faux pas as men always take priority over women.
Mark Esdale , Bridge, Canterbury, UK
How about "You wanted the vote, you wanted equality. Now put up, stand up & shut up!"
KB, Bristol, UK
Gassy: If you let me have your seat quickly you should be able to get clear in time. Your two friends should go with you.
Howard at lunch, Penzance, UK
I'M STANDING - subtext - I'm standing here looking at you looking at the person desperately in need of a seat. I want to say something but don't want to risk embarrassment of the intended recipient of your seat. Trust me, I have no compunction about making you look like a muppet, so how about you haul that lazy ass of yours to the vertical position and try not to act like the world owes you something whilst you're at it.
Andrew Rodgers, London, UK