7 Reasons That I Shouldn’t Have Got The Bus
I used to travel by bus a lot when I was younger. But now I don’t need to use one, as there are always better alternatives available to me. Last Saturday, however, I had to make a journey for which a bus seemed like the best option. I know now that it wasn’t.
1. The Women. I realised quite soon into my ride on the bus (occupied by about thirty people) that I was the only man there. When Margaret Thatcher said, “A man who, beyond the age of 26, finds himself on a bus can count himself as a failure,” did she scare all of the other men away? Obviously I disagree with her statement; there are many good reasons for men over twenty-six to be on the bus, probably seven. That doesn’t mean that I disagree with everything Thatcher said, of course. She once stepped out of 10 Downing Street, strode up to a microphone and said “Good evening” to the assembled journalists, and I didn’t find that too objectionable. But I’m at a loss as to why the bus was an otherwise-man-free-zone, and it felt strange to be intruding on whatever it was that the sisters-of-the-bus would otherwise have been doing.
2. The Heat. It was a hot, sunny day, and buses are vehicles that are constructed almost entirely from windows. Unlike just about every other public building or vehicle though, there is no air-conditioning. This meant that the bus was a very hot place indeed. It is said that men sweat, but women perspire, and I discovered that this was true while I was on the bus: I sweated, and the women on the bus perspired. A lot. They perspired so much that the interior of the bus developed its own tropical microclimate and all of the windows steamed up, which actually improved the view of some of the suburbs we passed through.
3. The Baby. There was a screaming baby on the bus. She bawled persistently for the entirety of the journey. She cried so loudly that I began to wish I had more earwax. Not that I could blame the baby for her wailing, of course. I daresay I’d have cried too, if my mother had looked like Brian Blessed and worn pink velour leggings that were six sizes too small.
4. The Girls. The bus seemed to be the place where the city’s mardy-faced fifteen year old girls go to hang out in pairs. They were wearing most of Superdrug’s range of make-up simultaneously and all of them had hair so dazzlingly shiny that it hurt my eyes. When not scowling contemptuously at me, the baby, Brian Blessed, the strange old woman or the driver (as we were clearly idiots), they were engaged in weighty conversations of substance with each other:
“D’ya know that Kerry?”
“No” (said as a long word, pronounced nerrrrrr).
“She finished with that Ryan”.
“Who?” (pronounced ooo, and said like a gorilla)
“The one what lives next to Judy” (pronounced Ju-deh)
“Who’s Judy ?” (oooze Ju-deh)
At this point, mardy-faced-girl number nine scowled at her friend, mardy-faced-girl number ten, who was clearly an idiot for not knowing who Ryan or Judy were, and I inserted my fingers into my ears and began to hum The Marseillaise.
5. The Strange Old Woman. There was an old woman at the front of the bus, in a priority seat. She had many bags surrounding her – two of which were tartan – and, from one of those tartan bags, she produced an unappetising looking sandwich which appeared to contain some sort of luncheon meat. She proceeded to eat the sandwich. Now you may be thinking that this isn’t really strange behaviour, but I alighted from the bus when it arrived at my destination and, when I got back on board (lighted?) several hours later, she was still there. Shortly after I sat down she reached into the other tartan bag and produced a slice of fruitcake, which was presumably her dessert. She’s probably still there now, having coffee and mints.
6. The Speed. I wasn’t on the bus because I wanted to get to my destination in a hurry, which is just as well, as the bus was moving at almost glacial speed. In fact, there was only one thing on the narrow road back to the city centre that was slower than the bus; and that was the enormous fat man wobbling along in the centre of the carriageway on a tiny bicycle. His legs were rotating at 11 revolutions per minute. I know this, because I had time to calculate it. We were stuck behind him for 19.4 renditions of The Marseillaise until, eventually, we ground to a complete halt.
7. The Prisoner. By this point, I’d tired of the bus and, when we had been stationary in traffic for several minutes, I decided to get off and walk. “Can you open the doors please, I want to alight” I said to the driver, taking full advantage of the rare opportunity to use the word alight.
“But we’re not moving. I wish to return home during my cat’s lifetime.”
“No. Sorry. We’re not at a stop.”
“But we are at a standstill, will that do?”
“We’re stationary and next to the kerb: A situation that isn’t remotely different to being at a bus stop. Not that I’m an expert on bus stops, but one of the things that I have observed about them is that they involve both a stationary bus, and a kerb; and our present circumstances fulfil both of those criteria. Furthermore, I put it to you that…”
At this moment the doors opened and I was free to alight from the bus, never to return. Twenty mardy-faced girls scowled at me as I got off.
7 Reasons Transport Week continues tomorrow.