Buses and Bitching…

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I know – nothing to do with the words of the title..but I like butterflies…

As ever, buses remain a constant source of entertainment and material to me. There is something about the encapsulated of forty or so people contained within a vehicle that makes the magic happen…

I have three little gems to present to you. The other week I was on the bus into town to meet Alex, who had come over from Loughborough for a few days. Downstairs was packed with pushchairs and pensioners, so I decided to climb the stairs to the upper deck, ticket clenched firmly in teeth Errol Flynn style at his swashbuckling finest, shopping bag gripped tightly in fist, I swung nimbly up the stairs and collapsed into the first available seat.

(“Nimbly?” O.K. maybe “with panic” would be better as these drivers never wait until you’re seated before driving away… one of these days I just know I’ll come rolling back down the stairs like an armadillo to lie at the feet of an unsuspecting O.A.P…”Whatcha doin’ down there luv…bit of a fall?” Anyway, I digress…)

I settled myself, had a mouthful of water, spilling most of it down my front and sat back to gaze out of the window and tune in…

“… yes, but my dentist isn’t very pleased with me – said the fuel rots my gums…”

Bingo! I homed in on that snippet.

Yes, because when you do fire-eating – I taught myself by the way – you have to hold the petrol in your mouth. I’ve done a few Light Nights (I’ll just bet you have!!) but obviously I can’t make fire-eating the whole act because of Health and Safety, so I do yo-yo tricks, juggling…”

A loud, strident voice breaks in:

“… but I only removed her from the group chat! I didn’t say anything bad about her – just put a laughing face emoji – and now I’m being called in for bullying her! You have to tell them I’m not a bully – she just read the post wrong…”

The bus pulled up at the changeover point where drivers swap routes, and the shift changes.

Are you all right then?”

Yeah, not too bad. Yourself?”

Oh these bloody new buses! I can’t reach the pedals!”

Someone else said that the other day – who makes these things? Do you want me to pull the seat forward for you?”

Yeah, I’m only 5’6”,” said the driver, a small, frail-looking chap.

Not a problem for me,” said the other driver, a strapping bloke, who proudly declared:

I’m 6’4”!”

Gentlemen – size really doesn’t matter as long as you reach your destination…!

There… And Back Again!

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Sometimes I long for the closeted private sanctuary of my own car as I travel about. But, then again, I have no confidence in my own ability to focus sufficiently to drive a car – too away with the fairies most of the time.

My abortive attempts at driving were given up after about eight lessons and a near miss… I took a wrong turn down a country lane on a foggy autumn afternoon and my instructor innocently remarked:

It’s a good job no one saw us – they’d think we were up to no good!”

This served to send me into a fit of hysterical giggling as I drove across (literally across) an unexpected roundabout and my endeavour to become a capable driver ended…

On the other hand, I would miss the weirdly prophetic bus tickets we have here – just look at some of the code words used – as good as any deck of Tarot cards! “Write” is the one that appeared when I was feeling particularly low – I took this as Universe encouragement. “Elbow” – when I was troubled by a nagging pain in, yes, my elbow which spurred me on to visit my doctor for a steroid injection which cured it. “Mouse”… I’m still waiting…

Plus the fact you hear such extraordinary snippets of conversation. My favourites from the past week or so – on the same journey, actually – involved a girl, sitting behind me, talking loudly on her mobile to a friend:

“… and I said ‘Really? It counts as one of your five a day? I didn’t even know it was a vegetable!’ She said ‘Well of course potatoes are vegetables! What did you think they were?’”

To which this girl had replied: “Oh I just thought they were these like starchy things that grew in the ground…”

I was quite glad she was sitting behind me actually, so she couldn’t see the look on my face…

The next snippet – an older lady got on the bus with her wheeled walker and noticed a friend seated over the way. They obviously hadn’t seen each other and the friend listened attentively as she ran through her catalogue of ills. Her next statement made me snort with laughter that I quickly had to disguise as a not-terribly convincing cough…

I’m not going back to that care home though! I can’t be doing with it, all that fighting!”

Her friend leaned forward:

Whatever do you mean?”

You can’t get a minute’s peace – they’re always fighting over the darts on the telly and it’s not just the men!”

That sounds dreadful,” her friend replied, clearly shocked.

Oh I know, I can’t get along with it, not when I’m having chemo as well! Ruby knocked Doris down them little steps! I’m going to ask my grand daughter if she can get me moved…”

At this point, somewhat reluctantly, I must confess, I had to get off the bus as it was my stop; but for the rest of the day I was plagued with questions in my head … did the girl get over her surprise about the nature of potatoes, or was she further traumatised when she encountered something like rhubarb… grown like a vegetable but treated like a fruit…? Should I perhaps watch darts to see if I could understand how the game could induce such rage? Was Doris ever revenged upon Ruby for tipping her down the stairs?

Would the care home in question be a possible future residence for my mother…