Is it the air in Britain?

Posted by Fred Frailey
on Monday, July 20, 2015

At my age, it’s hard for my eyebrows to go up in alarm. But they really started flickering upon reading a dispatch from It seems a man, Robin Lee, 45, was arrested for charging his cell phone on a London Overground train. Say what? And we think Amtrak is screwed up. . . .

London Overground is a relatively new name for a network of suburban rail lines radiating from London. The unfortunate Mr. Lee casually plugged his iPhone into an outlet aboard a train from Hackney Wick to Camden Road (don’t you love those British names?).

Presently two “community support officers” confront him, and one says, “You’re stealing electricity and I’m going to arrest you for this.” At Camden Road the train is met by four cops who handcuff Mr. Lee and haul him off to jail.

There are other details to this story but none are germane to the point: The train generated its own electricity and what is presumed to be a universal benefit of riding trains on this side of the Atlantic can get you jailed on the other side. You see, London Overground trains have stickers that say the electrical outlets are only for use by car cleaners.

As the future felon Mr. Lee said, “The electricity on those trains is self-generated. It’s a dynamo. Therefore, it’s completely self-sufficient. It’s not as if I nicking it. The whole thing is ludicrous.”

I don’t know what to say, frankly. The stupidity of the British constabulary simply freezes my tongue.

As always, you get the last word.—Fred W. Frailey

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