ON a train back from Birmingham a couple of weeks ago, I encountered three white men racially abusing a lone black man.

The carriage was full and we were piled into the section by the doors. The black man was already there sat down on one of the drop-down seats when I got on, followed by the three other men a couple of stops later.

They had been drinking but weren’t drunk – their ages ranging, I’d guess, between 35 and 50 – with one still holding a can of beer. It was around 2pm on a Saturday.

After a couple of minutes, one of the men said to the black man: “Been on holiday recently?” to which the others laughed. “You look like you’ve been out in the sun too long.”

These taunts continued, some worse than that, with the black man, who was probably only in his 20s, trying to laugh it off.

He had with him a large suitcase and the men began to pretend he had a dead body in the bag, saying they would call the police.

There were plenty of other people in the carriage who could hear all of this, as well as in the section we were in. Everyone stayed quiet to these loud moronic racists, including me. This all only lasted a couple of minutes, if that. But someone should have said something.

After a while, they all wanted to shake the black man’s hand, as if it was just in jest. He hadn’t risen to their abuse, so it suddenly became friendly banter. But it wasn’t that at all.

I wanted to say something to them but I didn’t – they had been drinking and were thuggish, stupidly squaring up to people as they passed through the carriage.

The black man didn’t rise to any of it, just listened, and he left the train at Foregate Street, the same time as me, with his head held high.

In one of his stand-up routines, South African comedian Loyiso Gola jokes about British racism being too subtle and “nuanced” compared to what he was used to growing up.

“It wasn’t subtle, there wasn’t a grey area,” he says. “It’s like, why can’t we go to the beach? Because there’s a sign that says: ‘No blacks allowed’.”

He’s right. We’ve certainly come a long way here.

The thing is, we’ve got this strong movement towards an entirely politically correct way of behaving, yet, in the last couple of years, figures show reports of racism have risen. Why is that?