Nail your colours to your chest

While I can only applaud Christina Lamb's call to liberate us from our Trappist attitudes to the Tube ("You must be mad to speak to me", 18 December), might not her article have been of more use had she taken the opportunity to suggest some sort of label that we potential talkers could wear to let us recognise each other? After all, only by setting an example and letting people know that it's "OK to talk" can we hope to change anything.

I would suggest a coloured ribbon as an easy and unobtrusive signal, but I fear that all the colours are taken (indeed double-booked in some cases, unless all the main Sinn Fein spokespeople are campaigning for the legalisation of cannabis). It's a pity the subject wasn't brought up a few months ago, since perhaps a poppy sprayed a different colour (eg, yellow) would have been easily available, smart, and small - a T-shirt proclaiming "chat to me, I'm not a loony" might require too much commitment, and anyway would be less likely to work.

If someone could design a suitably subtle campaign badge, I'm sure that there would be many prospective customers.

Richard Mowbray
Ware, Herts

I sympathise with Christina Lamb, but getting people to talk on the Tube is not that difficult. My classic way to make everybody talk is to wait a few minutes at one of those long, unexplained halts in a tunnel, then announce clearly: "This is a Standard British Disaster and you are now allowed to talk to strangers", at which point, they do.

After my first wife died, I had two longish relationships with women I picked up on the Tube, so there is romance to be found, as well.

Ken Baldry
London N1

This article first appeared in the 01 January 1999 issue of the New Statesman, An earthquake strikes new Labour