The Cromulent Millipede

Post CCCIV

Here’s the story of buses, nostalgia, and goldfish flakes.

Is a millipede a normal pet for a child in 2017? I mean, when I was growing up, it was hamsters, dogs, fish… I mean, I did know someone with a parrot, but that’s the exception, rather than the rule. My cousin, on the other hand, has a millipede. And it’s a biggy. It’s as long as his arm, and I wish I were joking about that. Admittedly, that nugget of information would be rather more terrifying if he was 38 instead of just eight, but still… you can only imagine the reaction of his three-year-old sister when she saw that. She wanted a hamster, apparently. She certainly didn’t get that. That said, I wouldn’t be too disappointed. I mean, I’ve only held a hamster once but it left me scratched to hell and more bloodied than I normally like to be. You’d be better off with the parrot. They are lovely, by the way. I had one on my shoulder, once. It was a touristy gimmick rather than a former life as a pirate, in case you’re wondering…

I think my aunty used to have a parrot as well, and I have another who is terrified of them, which is a very strange phobia to have in England. We’re not really known for our parrots. Now if she was afraid of queuing, I’d be concerned.

I’ve never had a parrot, but I did have a goldfish. She was the best friend I ever had. No, wait. She was the only friend I ever had. No, wait. She was the closest thing I ever had to a friend. No, wait. She was a fish. That’s it. Maggie’s dead now, though. We had so much fun together. Like that time we moved house and we had to transport her in her tank whilst spilling as little water as humanly possible. Come to think of it, we should’ve just put her in a plastic bag with some air holes. And then there was that time… erm, actually, that’s the only fun time I can remember having with her. We buried her in the back garden in her favourite fabric. My curtains were made out of the same fabric. She was always staring at them so I naturally assumed she liked that fabric. That or she was longingly gazing out of the window hoping for freedom…

What? Lots of people name their goldfishes Margaret. It’s a perfectly cromulent name…

You know, now I think about it, it’s the tenth anniversary of her death next year. I wonder if I should do anything for it. Live of goldfish flakes for the day as a mark of respect. Black armband, maybe. Candlelight vigil? Maybe I could get Elton John to come and sing Amazing Grace. Too much? She was a big fan. Every time I put on his music, she kept banging her head against the glass. Oh, actually, she might have been trying to break free to get away from the music. Maybe a bit Freddy Mercury, then.

I get nostalgic for the olden days far too often. Especially considering I’m not even that old. In fact, I relish in it. They’ve just raised the bus fair prices, again. I remember that, when I was little, an adult single ticket would cost just 50p. 17 years later, it’s now £3.00. The bus driver was very apologetic when he saw a face like thunder staring back at him when he informed me of the new price. In typically British fashion, we prepare an angry rant in our heads but out of mouths comes a rather more polite, “Oh, well, no problem! It’s not your fault, you just drive the buses! Have a nice day!” Damn and dagnabbit. I was gonna give him a jolly good finger wagging…

It’s amazing I’m only 26. I sound 126. I’d love to make it to 126. If my sums are correct, Stagecoach keep raising the cost of a single ticket at a rate of £2.50 a decade, and I live to the age of 126, then when I die in 2116, the cost of a single ticket will be… £253. And five pence. And it’s that five pence that really irks me.

I don’t mean to sound old, but, “Eee, the bus were 50p when I were a lad” really doesn’t help matters. I also remember when the buses had letters and numbers, rather than just numbers, like they do nowadays. 50p for the 52A, on the old buses that were really narrow and had steps to get up to the driver and a little red handrail. And the seats had a thin metal bar and virtually no padding. There were no bells. Very dull interiors. Have you seen them now? It’s like an acid trip. Bright red floor. Bright blue walls and ceiling. Bright orange bars to hold on to. Fluorescent blue and orange seats. No legroom anymore, either. I was excited when they brought out these newfangled buses with no stairs and lots of room for the disabled and pushchairs. They called them lowliners and they had bells and air conditioning. They were a considerable improvement over the old ones, buses that often had burnt seats where bored teenagers had set fire to them. They didn’t have cameras on board, back then. I knew one girl who had sex on one of them. I can’t give you any more information about that endeavour because I didn’t really want to know anymore…

People laugh at my love of buses and call it little more than a dull obsession akin to trainspotting. That’s really unfair. Trainspotting is dull. If you enjoy trains, get on one. I’m not sat by the side of roads with a pair of binoculars hunting buses. I mean, okay, I did it once, but that’s not important.

I can’t really explain it, just like I can’t explain my love of the olden days, even if said days weren’t that long ago. I can’t explain why I kept an emergency bus ticket from 2001, basically a little piece of card with the driver’s pencilled scribbles all over it. I can’t explain why I remember each bus, even though they all look the same. “Ah, it’s 220631, I love this bus!” Yes, I have memorised most of the serial numbers. I can’t explain why I remember all the driver’s faces. “Oh, God, not her again. She’s so miserable.” Or, “Ah, it’s the weird Swede! I love this guy!” Equally, I can’t explain why I miss Maggie so much. She was just a goldfish. In fact, there are many things in my life I can’t explain. I’m very odd. I do lots of odd little things and odd little rituals. I have order, logic and routine engrained into my very soul. And people ask why. I don’t know. I think perhaps we’re all a little too busy trying to label and categorise people in this day and age. Is it so wrong not to want to be a part of a herd? I could be a bus critic, you know. Every new bus Stagecoach brings out has a different layout, and you betta believe I have strong opinions on some of their recent efforts…

Maybe looking back is a symptom of ageing. Maybe wanting to run away from being defined is also a symptom of the sands of time tick-tocking away. Maybe all this is insignificant. Maybe it was stupid a simple price rise in a bus ticket brought on all these memories of times gone by. Or maybe without nostalgia, memories and loss, no matter how trivial they may seem to others, is a part of who we are. Our characters and our souls. The very fibre of what makes people human. Maybe we should embrace the odd in ourselves, or maybe we should stop defining one another and embrace the one thing that binds us together. Our humanity. And our hatred of modern public transport prices, of course.

But whatever you do, really don’t get me started on these new Enviro buses Stagecoach have started using. Oh, God they’re bloody awful. It’s like an explosion in a seat and primary colour factory. Good heavens…

American novelist, short story writer, playwright, essayist and poet, Carson McCullers (1917-1967), once said: “We are homesick most for the places we have never known.”

Peace Out :|:


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Please feel free check out the latest posts from my other blog:

To Contrive & Jive
New Posts Every Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday
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