Here’s the story of buses, observation, and a missionary in an awkward position.
Have you ever smelt anyone who smells of a carpet shop? I mean, it’s often said that older people have a distinct odour, but ‘eau de carpet shop’ was a new one on me. It was lovely. I wanted to hug him. I muss stress, I wasn’t actually sniffing the old guy. He just walked passed me and I got this pleasant waft emanating from him. It’s the little things that cheer you up, isn’t it? The nice comment from someone. All the lights are green. That guy who smells like a carpet shop. It’s one of the nicest smells in the world, isn’t it? What impressed me is that he certainly doesn’t work in a carpet shop. He had a bus pass. They only give you one of those when you retire. Which raises the interesting prospect that he actually lives in a carpet shop. I imagined his entire life living in one. So much so that I became jealous of him. You see, this is what I think about on the bus. They should make a film about the life inside my head. Inside Al. I’d pay good money to go and see that, which proves how stupid I am…
It got me thinking about what other places I’d like to work based solely on how I’d smell at the end of the day. Flower shop, obviously, is high on that list. A bakery would be lovely. A cake shop. Maybe even a sex shop. I mean, I’ve never been in one, but I imagine they smell quite nice. I mean, I’m not a manufacturer of lubrication, but if I was, I’d be very disappointed if it didn’t smell nice. I think ‘lube handler’ would be an ideal job for me.
You might be thinking ‘perfume shop’, but no, I don’t think that would be a good idea. Oh, yes. Perfume in moderation is just darling. But if you spent your entire day surrounded by the stuff, you’d start to smell like a worker at a 19th century French brothel.
Eau de tart, if you will…
I think about many things on the bus. Such as, ‘Is that girl with the blue hair looking at me?’ Or, ‘Is that other girl with the blue hair looking at me?’ Or, ‘Is that girl with the turquoise hair looking at me?’ The point is, a lot of girls have blue hair these days. I mean, seriously, a bucket load. Everywhere I go, blue haired girls! It’s an epidemic. I quite like it. It’s the mark of a brave and confident girl, that is.
Mind you, it’s not the strangest hairstyle I’ve seen on the bus this week. I saw a punk. And not one of these modern terrible copies, I mean, a genuine bona fide punk. His hair was completely shaved down the middle and the two remaining sides were spiked up. One was dyed bright pink, the other, bright green. Piercings. The denim jacket with the sleeves cut off. Bright pink jeans. Boots. Oh, man, I loved it. It was slightly ruined by the fact he sounded like a posh and highly eloquent British aristocrat from the 19th century. Probably just back from visiting that 19th century French brothel…
I like that, though. A whole story about him sprung up in my head. Raised in a remote and exuberant country mansion with all the money in the world. Then bam, the dreaded teenage years roll on and rebellion becomes the soup of the day. “I’m outta here, pops! No more aristocracy for me. I’m moving to a blue-collar working class town to become a punk! But I’m not gonna bother working on my accent. Sucks to the law! Now, where’s the local cocaine parlour?”
We make judgments, don’t we? We don’t want to, but when we’re on that bus or train, we make judgments about other people. I was on a bus this week and there were two young girls with their babies, swearing their heads off. The parents, that is. And one elderly woman on the bus was shaking her head so much I thought it was going to fall off. Tutting very loudly. Very British. ‘I know exactly what type of person she is’, I thought. “Oh, we wouldn’t have tolerated this back in my day; ah, the good old days, when Britannia rightly ruled the waves with our glorious Empire!”
Whereas I’m just guessing when it comes to the punk. And our Empire wasn’t glorious, by the way. It was a bloody awful idea…
Perhaps accents aren’t the greatest measure of a person’s character. I had a bus driver this week with the strangest accent I’ve ever heard. Initially, it sounds Australian. But certain words he says have a very Swiss pronunciation, with a bit of Essex thrown in for good measure. Occasionally, a hint of Irish pops up. It also has very strong overtones of South African, but it most resembles southern American. I can only presume one of two things. One, is that he is American and has lived all over the world before, for some strange reason, deciding to settle in northeast England and become a bus driver. Or two, his parents were Australian and American and he grew up in a hippy commune entirely populated by Australians, Americans, Swiss, Irish, South Africans, and some bloke from Essex.
I hope it’s the second one. That would make for a great sitcom. He does look Australian. But I’m going for American because he sounds like one. “Have a good afternoon, sir. Cheers, buddy!” Nobody outside of America uses the word ‘buddy’. Just like nobody in America uses the word ‘fanny’ properly…
I did once meet a missionary on a bus, who was from Utah. I think he was a Mormon. I didn’t think my town was that in need of help, to be frank. But he liked it here. Most Americans do. They loved it here during the Second World War. You know, when they stole all our girls off us…
There was even a dog on one bus I took this week. He liked licking my shoe. I didn’t really know what to do about that.
I suppose my thoughts are on the bus because they did away with the paper weekly tickets, recently. I was really annoyed about that, dagnabbit. Why change a system that’s working? I hate change. It’s intolerable, aggravating and quite honestly, insulting. This is the sort of thing that annoys me, by the way. I mean, maybe people have bigger concerns in life, but not I.
You see, what the bus company has done is replace the paper tickets with a card that you top up on the bus and scan on the machine when you board. I know a similar system has been used for a while down in that London, but we’re not London. Thankfully. We like a more traditional and slower pace of life up here in Yorkshire. Honestly, the amount of people who were flummoxed by this new system was, quite literally, some.
I’ve spent the best part of my week perfecting my style. You have no idea how cold the UK is at the moment. You can’t walk more than 100 yards without your feet becoming encased in blocks of ice. So I have gloves on. And I really don’t want to take them off when I get on the bus. But the machine is flat. So, gloved, yes, you can get the card on, but off? Different kettle of fish, readers. There’s a technique and style I’ve been trying to perfect so I can get it off gloved. I think I’ve just about nailed it, but boy, I hope I never get it wrong. Because if I do, I’d look like a massive cock on a bus full of people.
I mean, yes, many say that I already look like a massive – you know, it’s not important…
I hate technology some days, I really do.
I’ve now been getting the same bus and travelling the same roads for just over 10 years. Who knows what colourful characters I’ll meet in the next decade. What hair colours will come in to fashion. What kooky accent the next driver will have. What fanciful odours I’ll smell next. I’m hoping for ‘wood shop’ – ooh, I love the smell of a wood shop. Or possibly freshly cut wet grass. Mmm, lovely. Or maybe petrol. Not that I go around sniffing petrol, it’s just at petrol stations, I’m in heaven…
So next time you travel anywhere on that bus or train, lift your head up from that book or drag your eyes away from the windows. There’s a whole world inside that carriage. A whole world of stories just waiting… for you to impart your fictional nonsense on to.
As you do…
English singer, songwriter and television personality, John ‘Ozzy’ Osbourne (b. 1948), once said: “Being sober on a bus is, like, totally different than being drunk on one.”
Peace Out :|:
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