On a bus. A slow bus. A really slow bus. On a particularly long and exhausting route, too. Stick with it, it gets better. I ventured on to the top deck and instantly regretted it. Bloody students everywhere. Talking loudly. Quite crowded. There was a place for me, but this was no place for me. I was forced upstairs by an unusual funk occupying the lower quarters. Possibly caused by the man with the high waistband. I usually belong downstairs, of course I do - with the old, the lazy, the disabled and the mad. Where am I off to? Home. Where had I been? Don't ask. It just doesn't matter. Dry mouth and sore throat. Struggled to squeeze into my seat at the front of the bus on the upper eschalon. Have to cross my legs at a slight angle, not because I need to pee, but so I can sit 'comfortably'. I do like the view from the top at the front of the bus. It is the best view in the house. Although this is not a house. It is a bus. The semi-panoramic view allows a rare vantage point whilst travelling through the concrete landscape. I guess it's like a user-friendly urban rollercoaster ride - but this is only if the bus driver is in the mood to drive fast. Today he drives slow, and I assume that his considered approach is appreciated by the large contingent of senior citizens on the lower level. He seems like the kind of conscientious bus driver who would stop for someone that is running to catch the bus, would gladly accept a second portion of a hot meal dished out on a cold Sunday afternoon, and offers to remove his footwear by the front door when entering a house that he is unfamiliar with. There are two pieces of graffitti daubed on the small shelf by my window. One says "Work. Buy. Consume. Die". Perhaps this aggressively unhopeful outlook was written by Alexei Sayle in 1983, or by someone who went to see Alexei Sayle in 1983. The other slogan says, simply, "Tory fuckhead". This, of course, could've been written by anyone, at any time. Acute wisdom, if a little ugly in texture. It is at least a stroke of vandalism from someone with deep political passion, if not respect for the immediate welfare of others' property. I overhear some shards of conversation between a group of medical students, who, it has become obvious to me, are on their way to West Middlesex Hospital. Whilst discussing the compact and bijoux nature of appartment blocks in Hong Kong, one reveals (with irritating effort made to emphasise the word 'literally'): "You can literally shower whilst sitting on the toilet". "My dad works really hard - he's an idiot", comments another. What is infinitely more concerning is one student's wildly inaccurate description of a false leg as "a pathetic limb". I look out of the window to see someone actually running for the bus. Wow. There is potential here for high drama, though I trust the driver to be accomodating. The bus stop is located agonisingly beyond reach, but their effort is sincere and committed. It appears that the power of fast movement is not an obviously natural attribute, so their desperate urgency indicates to me that they're running late for something important. They made it! But just as they'd arrived at the door, panting in some discomfort, the bus driver cruelly pulls away rejoining the traffic - thus proving me once again to be a poor judge of character. This uncharitable act from the driver prompts a few obscene words aimed his way, a mis-directed forearm swipe at the side of the bus, and an ugly hand gesture from the frustrated pedestrian. We pass a Wimpy fast food restaurant. "I haven't been to a Wimpy since I was a child - they have cutlery and plates and everything", I think to myself. I wondered how many other people had passed by a Wimpy and thought the same thing. We also crawl past the unfortunately named hairdressers "Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow" as it lay there derelict and dusty with a pile of unopened mail blocking its entrance. Further down the road a low-budget bakers has a promotion running on bulk purchases of sausage rolls. Buy eight get one free. Someone gets up and presses the 'STOP' button, before moving down the stairwell to exit the bus. I notice that they've left behind a small parcel, and instinctively grab it before shooting down the stairs in hot pursuit. I jump off the bus just in time before the doors close and call after the lady to return her property. She is relieved and thanks me warmly. She then explains the importance of my actions revealing the contents of the parcel to be an anniversary gift for her husband. She is extremely grateful, and I feel like a good person. I then realise that I'm still an unreasonable distance from home, and will need to wait for the next bus. The wait being a potentially long one. I also realise that my uncharacteristically heroic actions have come at a cost. In my haste I had left my own bag on the bus, and with such a selfish bastard at the wheel (adding to my own lack of athleticism) the chances of its immediate recapture appeared remote.
It then started raining.
Strong horizontal rain.
I considered smiling, then reconsidered, settling for a rueful shake of the head instead.