I am one of life’s unfortunates who never learned to drive. I had lessons at 17 with an instructor who looked somewhat like a 70’s snooker player, but I didn’t have the mentality that enabled me to do more than look where I’m going, press pedals and be aware of other road users. My driving lessons came to an end when one foggy afternoon I took a wrong turn down a country lane and the instructor said:
“I hope nobody sees us, they could get the wrong idea…”
I promptly collapsed into giggles, nearly crashed the car and thus ended my driving career.
Since then, I have been completely reliant on public transport, which on the whole is reasonable, although I have learned to carry plenty of tissues and plastic bags. On the other hand, there have been times when I long for the comfort of a car, the confidence and smugness that a car bestows on you, as you roll smoothly past a queue of miserable wet people waiting patiently in the rain like sodden newspapers… I had one particular week where every other bus journey, some child threw up… I have learned to sit at least two seats away from children. One day, I was fortunate enough to witness a natural phenomena: a father had been kind enough to take his children swimming – I deduced this from their conversation. I smiled politely at the family whilst keeping a wary eye on the youngest son, who was strangely quiet. Then – he went from white to green in a matter of seconds. In a matter of seconds I was amazed, amused, then appalled as said child produced a copious amount of vomit, quite out of proportion to his size…
“Told you ya shouldn’t a had ‘em crisps!” his sister gloated.
I murmured sympathetically and handed over tissues to the embarrassed father…
These stones aid and protect travellers… (from left to right: Red Calcite, African Turquoise, Angelite and Malachite)
Unfortunately, my propensity for inappropriate laughter has shown no signs of leaving me as I get older… Bus journeys are the worst as you have no means of rapid exit either… On my route home, there is a poor old man that I see unfailingly every week on a certain day. He has a habit… a habit of clearing his throat loudly and disconcertingly, and one day as he was making him way to a seat, the bus lurched, he grabbed the seat in from of me and: “HmmHMMMhm!!” about four inches from my face. That was it. I snorted, gulped, wheezed and shook with silent giggles. I was with my youngest son who has the same tendency for the giggles, but as an actor, he is able to return to straight-faced immobility in a second, leaving me choking and spluttering like a walrus.
I see this poor old man every week, and as he shuffles past me, the doubtful look he gives me is enough to start the tidal wave of unstoppable, unforgivable mirth.
I’m so sorry. If you’re ever on a bus and you see a strange woman festooned with plastic bags, clutching tissues and snuffling with laughter, it’s probably me… sorry…
All photos were taken by my son!