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The RSA has spent 250 years coming up with groundbreaking innovations in the world of "arts, commerce and manufacture" that have huge social benefit.  But I think its finest moment has just arrived.

Here's the rationale.  There was a time when every gentleman gave up his seat for a lady on the train.  But since we ditched notions of the 'weaker sex', this practice had fallen out of fashion.  Cue a long running etiquette crisis resulting from the fact that it is not always very easy to tell whether someone is pregnant or not and should be offered a seat.  Over the last few years this has been increasingly resolved by women taking the beautifully practical and direct approach of wearing a "Baby on Board" badge.  Hooray!

But a newer problem (at least I think it's newer) has emerged relating to age.  Someone who is clearly elderly and maybe frail should obviously be offered a seat and I see and do this regularly on London's tube.  But then there is the grey area (pun intended) of people who could be old  enough to be offered a seat but then again could well be young enough to find it embarrassing or even offensive if some whippersnapper implied they were too frail to stand up for the time it takes the tube to run from Leicester Square to Embankment.  A problem that results once again, I guess, from the beneficial decline in patronising attitudes to those supposedly less able than ourselves. 

What is a polite person to do? 

So, the solution:  alongside the "Baby on Board" badges that London Transport (and I guess other train operators) hand out, why not also offer a "Yes, I would quite like a seat, thanks" badges. Or how about "my brain's as sharp as ever but my legs have felt better - thanks for the seat" badge.

We're full of good ideas here at the RSA!  Or maybe I'm just an over-sensitive soul and the only person who'll ever wear the badge is me in my dotage.


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