11 MAY 2002, Page 31

From Mr Edward Brandler

Sir: Phil Craig's experience will be depressingly familiar to many commuters. I, too, confronted three youths who were being similarly boorish on a Friday-evening train from Waterloo to Walton-on-Thames. They were abusing a woman who had told them to shut up, so I rounded on them quite suddenly and told them to dry their eyes and shut up. I added that it was disgusting that they should talk to a woman so rudely. They were visibly embarrassed and, apart from occasionally muttering self-consciously among themselves about how unbelievably hostile everyone on the train was being to them, they did shut up.

Regrettably, after a quarter of an hour another man — much larger than I — swore at them and threatened violence if they didn't shut up altogether. This provoked them into another flurry of obscenities, and a fight ensued, which I then broke up. Mercifully (and undoubtedly with deliberate calculation), they did not start the fight until the train had begun pulling up at their station, and they soon left — but not before giving their antagonist a bloody lip.

One need not be six foot four and built like a prizefighter to silence cowardly oiks. It helps to remember that moral authority outweighs physical might.

Edward Brandler