Should we ban first class carriages on trains?

Is it time to do away with first class travel?

Is it time to do away with first class travel? - Credit: Archant © 2006

Liz Nice almost did a Lord Grantham from Downton when she noticed the empty seats in first class while parents with children had to stand

I experienced pure joy this week.

It happened on Sunday evening, just when I was least expecting it to.

All was calm. I was in bed, getting my weekly Downton fix.

“It’s the one thing about you I can’t love,” my other half says. Oh well.


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Anyway, there I am, enjoying the dinner party along with all the other Granthams (I’m definitely a Grantham, no servant garb for me, thanks!) and then it happens. Bam! Bleurgh! Torrents of the red stuff flying out of Lord Grantham’s mouth.

All over Lady Cora. All over everybody.

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The Daily Mail is up in arms. Twitter is in a frenzy. But I love it. Love how Julian Fellowes likes to move the centre of gravity, love that he is happy to throw it all up in the air – or, even better, out of Lord Grantham’s mouth!

Life isn’t predictable. It shouldn’t be predictable. The moment we ask it to be, is the moment we give up.

That said, Downton may also represent all that is wrong in today’s Britain. My other half hates it because it reinforces the class system, reminding us, somewhat wistfully, of a time when everyone knew their place.

I see his point, although recently there has been trouble in the ranks with kitchen-maid Daisy expressing Marxist views and the Granthams showing a ruthless side, unfairly pressurising their tenant farmers to move out because things got a bit awkward over Lady Edith’s family secret.

Britain today has rarely been so stratified. Social mobility is at all time low. Young people fear going to university because of debt. Many of the ‘professions’, including my own, are dominated and run by white men of a certain age.

This week I attended the British Society of Editors conference where representatives of the group Women in Journalism spoke of their disappointment that since they started out in the profession 20 years ago, not much had changed. Women still weren’t getting the top jobs.

Diversity in newsrooms is still a huge issue as it is in many businesses. In our rich multi-cultural melting pot of a society, no-one, in any field, can afford to ignore this.

And when I travelled to and from the conference in a packed train carriage, I noticed, as I so often do, that first class sat empty. You know, if we got rid of first class from our trains and planes, everyone would have a little more room.

The sight of all those empty seats while mothers with children were standing, while anyone is standing… it’s enough to make me do a Lord Grantham.

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