On the buses

may 31 2007 no 76

“wicked! hilarious! hilarious!! I’m still finding bits of plastic in my flat! love you lots! mmmwah!”

dec 17  23 to Liverpool St

they’re back

the trimmings, the holly

the tree and the telly

trash in a trolly

the festive season

withered little walnut skulls thrown into the ashes

christmas fare and fair and fayre

and fairies dancing on the tree

the red sea of wrapping paper parts then rushes in again and swallows the baby

july 5 2008 paddington

“and Matt came over from Leeds. And his aunty had just had a bowel transplant? which is exactly the same operation that we do? And I was like O my god.”

nov. 18 2010 little scratches on the back of my hand from the wild corner at Mint Street) still not written anything new for my blog. new boys at Mint Street yesterday! Ronaldo and Clive whom D. K. brought along. the story of the chip shop window from both sides – D.S. and Gino (via D.K.) More bollocks from D.S. about how he’s going to live on a boat in Amsterdam and do art and write poetry – another thought from yesterday morning – Why Can’t Everybody Just Be Nice! why can’t they just be friendly and cuddly and sex free like my dog!! Not a soul can be bothered to wipe the condensation from the windows of this bus. We’re all in the dark. I’m in the back seat but one and I’ve just realised what’s odd – as I look at all the damp, tousled heads of hair – they’re all dark! not a single woman with dyed blond hair! in all London a unique assemblage. I glance behind me though, and there she is, the princess in the back seat, long blond hair, studying her eyes in a little mirror. Oh and there’s me of course, I’m  blond again. At Old St she pipes up on her mobile, this bus has taken for ever! nearly there! (You liar – this journey has been a credit to T f L.)

sign on a building near Old Street:   Private Shop   Licensed Adult Centre

frosted glass. the sign repeated on each window.

thurs feb 25 2010. 76. poster at a bus stop: LAST YEAR WE CAUGHT 56,493 BENEFIT THIEVES.  You are the bloody benefit thieves! They stop our clients’ benefits for any reason at all, then after appealing they get a big back payment. Months without a penny then we destroy you with an overdose of cash.

march 2010. 76.  sign outside the Linden Children’s Centre in Rectory Road –  GET BRITAIN BREAST FEEDING.  ok – would you like me to suckle or suck?

fri aug 26 243 … sign outside a café in Dalston:

SANDWEGES                              FULL ENGILISH…

A guy got on the bus and said, ‘I’ve met your dog before!’ but I didn’t remember him. And got down under the seat to say hello. Sitting in front of me, he’s now reading an article in the Telegraph entitled ‘The End of History in 159 State Schools.’

thurs nov 24 2011 has no one told these young women to get up in good time and eat a proper breakfast, and that if they put on their eye make up on the bus they’ll probably go blind?… app’t at St Anne’s on dec 9 to see about this cataract….

tues dec 20  76  going home  Big bright Iceland advert near Old Street – six pictures of food including something in batter like bleached turds and (now the word comes to me) profiteroles, standing out black on fawn and dollops of cream. key words: Christmas, Family and Party (repeated three times as an imperative.) made me feel sick. actually physically sick. A satisfying moment, mind, body and soul together in repulsion. So it suited the day when later the dog was sick on the carpet in room 4 where we were gathered for the volunteers’ christmas do. 15 or so whole, white marshmallows  (it’s hard for the eye to count more than about six objects at a glance) floating on a little lake of slime.

mon jan 30. 243. …as the bus jiggles and rolls its way towards the City like an old woman who’s swallowed – all kinds of things – a new annoying noise. The guy next to me has a lap top on his lap – Urban Art Awards it says – and the lap top is resting against a leather brief case which is wedged against the deep blue plastic back of the seat in front but not firmly enough to keep it still, so that the tiny movement of thick stiff leather against plastic makes a series of irregular tiny explosive frotting noises. All of a sudden (St Leonard’s Hospital, a relic, an annexe) a window seat becomes empty and he quickly moves. Does he know how little knee room there is in the front seat?

tues 31. 149 … The Geffrye museum lost in a smog of condensation. I hate it when  no one wipes the windows.  Buried in a thickening cocoon.

wed feb 1.  149. Define The Full Potential is the chapter heading of the book the guy next to me is reading. with these cataracts I can now barely read other people’s books. Right eye still pretty good though. Peeping through the top part of the lens, for distance vision, I see that in the book of the woman in the bulky mauve hat in front of me someone is falling in love. But the Full Potential is too close for distance, too far away for closeness. A pale gold sun which lights up the cocoon of condensation falls also on Meryl Streep impersonating the Iron Lady. Last night I went to sleep thinking of Laurieston Hall and Tiffy’s 40th anniversary project. Of how half (but how can I be sure?) of my remembered dreams (Shoreditch church already) are of Laurieston. Of the Most Unhappy Christmas. Of opposites, with memorable tags, now lost, along the lines of claustrophobic interiors, liberating landscapes – lists of pairs. And then I dreamt of L.H. again. Walking there I come to a fork in the road and take the right fork, though I know the left one leads there more quickly. I pass a house with a court yard on the left and the road dips down toward a valley on the right with a stream in it banked by smooth, hard rocks in wave like strata, dark humpy rocks to ride on. I want to say turpentine but that’s not right, nor travertine. It’s serpentine. Unsure of the way I go back to the house where now at least a dozen people are sitting around a table dressed in bright clothes which strike me as mediterranean. Is this the way to Laurieston Hall? I say. Only if you want to go via Mechanical says the leader, pronouncing the word as scottish, so, McCanicle. He offered to go and fetch an Ordnance Survey map but I woke up wondering about wordplay.

(this diary entry was broken off  by a recorded announcement saying: the destination of this bus has changed. Please listen for further announcements. )

And the Quiet Carriage.  The trouble is, the trains themselves are too quiet these days. It used to be that other people’s noises – and of course there weren’t any mobile phones etc. – were lost in the comfortable roaring clickety clack. Now the trains just hum along in their continental pendolino way and, whilst people are probably more distant from each other, their sounds are more intrusive. ‘someone behind me eating crisps. like a crow breaking eggs I thought. they’re fast and greedy. shouldn’t take too long.

But it goes on and on – what is it like?  and the scumble of the bag, the fight for each brittle fragment no matter how small, they must have been in good condition. How can I write haikus in these circumstances?

potato torture.

and the announcement on the little train to Llwyngwril: ‘the next stop will be Tywyn. This is where the children get on so put your fingers in your ears.’

The best bus story though is this. If I can recover it, because I wrote it in the form of a complaint on the TFL (transport for London) website, and they never replied, even though, as you will see, my message urgently deserved a reply, not because of my wounded dignity but for reasons of justice and public safety.

I was waiting for a bus in Camden Town one day last summer after work. A 254 came along and the back door opened to let people off but the front door didn’t. The driver seemed tobe gesticulating to me to go back, to get on via the back door, so I assumed something was wrong with the door and did so. But when I got onto the bus up came a roar of anger from thwe driver so I went up to see what the problem was. It seemdd I’d done a terrible thing by getting on through the wrong door and he ordered me off the bus. I didn’t want to shout at him but when someone is shouting at you and not listening it’s difficult not to follow suit. So we shouted at each other for a few minutes. He kept ordering me off the bus, refused to explain why he hadn’t opened the front door. At one point he actually said that it was too late now, meaning, I think, that whatever responsibility he had for the present situation was cancelled out by my crime of getting on through the wrong door. In the end I said, in a moment of calm clarity which helps me to recall my exact words, ‘the only reason I’m going to get off this bus is that I don’t want to hold up all the other passengers any longer. YOU ARE A DISGRACE.’  No idea what all the other passengers though about all this, of course, because no one reacted in any way.

Luckily another 254 came up right behind the first one and I got on it. Two bus stops up the road we passed the first one and I heard angry shouting and looked down to see a man standing in front of the bus, his arms stretched wide as if to embrace it or crush it, distraught, enraged –  clearly, unlike me, he’d decided not to go quietly. What I said on the complaints form was that, as well as being greatly concerned about the mental health of this driver, I wanted to get in touch with the police or this man’s lawyer, since I believed I had important evidence in connection with the case if, as seemed likely, he had stayed there,  gripping the bus and demanding justice,  until the police arrived.

But I never heard another word.

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1 Response to On the buses

  1. Judy says:

    Coming back from Lamledra last year (remember that lovely sunny week at the end of April?). On the 106 from Finsbury Park. The man sitting behind me leaned forward to say, “You’ve got very furry arms, haven’t you?”. I think I replied something obvious like ‘Yes, they are furry aren”t they”. Was just glad he hadn’t said “hairy” …
    I hope to get corroboration of this story from Oosama, Sheila and Rosie.

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