Those of you who read my Facebook statuses (and more recently, my Twitter feed) will have seen many, many references to my adventures on public transport. As someone who travels to and from work on the bus, I’m often inserted into a world of wonder. In days gone by I used to travel on at least four buses a day, nowadays it’s just the two – one there and one back – but they still hold a special place in my heart, provide entertainment and, occasionally, threaten to end my life.
I tend to come across mental people on my travels. It’s a gift and a curse in equal measures. You know how, in Murder She Wrote, Angela Lansbury is basically friends with everyone who is murdered or accused of murder? I’m a little bit like that with mental people. I’m not their friends, but they’re everywhere I go. There is a school of thought, amongst Carole and myself, that literally everywhere we go a higher power will send someone to test us.
I was once on a bus, a few years ago, when a couple of women were discussing the design of a 50p coin. Through some in depth chat, and calling on a knowledge only know to the elderly, they worked out that the design was in celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the invention of DNA. Not discovery. Oh no, Watson and Crick didn’t just discover DNA, they actually invented it. I’m not sure what cells used to contain before this historic landmark – my guess would be cotton wool, and that DNA was invented purely to stop the annoying squeaking noise you occasionally get from cotton wool. The whole of the animal kingdom walking, crawling and flying around squeaking due to their cotton wool filling. God bless the invention of DNA.
To be fair, this was not an unusual occurence in Halifax, as I once walked behind a few oldies as they went past a Private Shop. They turned and looked at the window, showing a manner of leather underwear and various other bits and bobs and one of the old dears piped up. “I wonder what they sell in there?” Believe me when I say this. It was all I could do to not walk right up behind them and shout “dildos!”
But occasionally the bus journeys take a darker turn. One where you suspect you may not make it to the end of the trip. Today was one such day. Having started out normally, I set off for the bus stop with a spring in my step and a song in my heart. Not really of course, as I was on my way to work it was more a dragging of feet and misery in my veins. Anyway, once at the bus stop I waited with a couple of people for the glorious transporter of passengers to arrive.
When it finally appeared, and the first of my fellow passengers got on the bus, I had my first notion that today may not be an average trip into town. The lady in question asked for day ticket. The driver issued her a return. The lady in question apologised and asked, once more, for a day ticket. This is where the first signs of trouble flared. The driver, on discovering his error, started banging his head with his hands, pulling at his woolly hat and screwing his face up as though it was the worst thing that could possibly happen. As someone waiting to get on this crazy bus, I was less than thrilled to face up to the driver with my ticket choice. I asked for a return and, luckily, got my ticket without any self-harm on the part of the driver.
If you were watching Facebook this morning you’ll have seen I posted a message asking if buses were supposed to go that fast. The driver drove like a bat out of hell, with or without Meatloaf. He sped through the estate and then we headed in a direction best described as sideways towards a wood at the side of the road, having managed to hit the only patch of ice on the entire route. This was, as you can imagine, just a little bit scary. What’s heartening to know, though, is that this skid did not seem to dent the driver’s enthusiasm for speed one iota. I think it was the fastest I have ever gotten to work in the morning – there’s even a slight chance that I arrived at work before I’d actually left home. It was that fast.
It’s the public part of public transport that makes it fun. Without that it’d just be transport. And that wouldn’t be as good.