Things I have learned while on the bus with the unhinged

Every single bus driver had taken one look at them and then sailed past their stop.   It was going to be a long walk home.

1. The very drunk person is not hot on bus etiquette and won't understand that you don't want to be slept on, burped on or have his beer breath rearranging your hairstyle in a weird subversion of the 'you're worth it' adverts.  There's no point protesting.  He can't properly hear you, see you, or understand you.  The words, 'Do you mind?' he will hear as 'Are you mine?' or 'Have one of mine' or 'I feel undermined' and these could lead to either an acceptance of your proposal of marriage, a confusion about where the cigarette is that you were offering, or the strangest therapy session you have ever undergone.  All could result in unwanted complications.  It's best to pretend you are a bed.  This is what he thinks you are.  Join in.

2. A very bad combination is this: 1) an extremely drunk person trying to make his way to the back of the bus; 2) a bus driver who thinks he is Michael Schumacher/Schumaker/Schoumacker/what the hell and who pulls away from the bus stop far too quickly; 3) you.  Drunk people aren't good at using the normal helpful structures on the bus when it lurches off, such as the poles or the backs of seats.  They prefer to use people's heads.  It's not pleasant, but just tell yourself you're helping to support the needy.  It might help to ease your conscience for crossing the road fourteen times in town on Saturday to avoid the Save the Children charity workers.

3. It's an incredibly bad sign when a bus driver lets the unhinged on the bus without paying and doesn't argue with them about the fare.  You can bet your bottom dollar (American reference ... I'm an inclusive blogger, me) that he knows just how crazy that guy is because he's been on the bus before.  So, when the guy sits behind you, it's hard not to feel like you would if you were watching Texas Chainsaw Massacre for the second time, only you couldn't quite remember when the bad bits were in time to hide your eyes.  You know it would be a silly thing to turn round in order to check exactly where the crazy guy is.  But, equally, if you just sit still and stare straight ahead, he may be getting - who knows? -  really, really angry about the way your hair parts unevenly at the back, or convinced that your collar is a rabid dog.

Look on the bright side, though,.  It's not all bad, being on buses with drunks and crazy guys.  It could be a toddler eating candy floss sitting next to you, or a baby with a nappy full enough to rival a commune's cesspit, or a mum whose family of seven, all named after footballers, film stars and other celebrities, is running up and down the aisles while she screams, 'KEIRA, BLOODY COME BACK 'ERE, YOU LITTLE SWINE' into your ears while you're trying to read Sense and Sensibility.

I hope that puts things into perspective for you.


  1. Ah yes. I remember now why I hated living in the suburbs and taking the bus downtown and back every day... thanks for the reminder.

  2. Well, that was very lovely. Makes my journey home in a car, via Tesco, seem positively fun.

    Keira K's mum was vaguely attached to our gang of chums when we were young. Touched by fame, me.

  3. On the buses. It was never the same since Reg Varney handed in his driving gloves. I'm very tempted to go on a bus ride on a Sunday from The Enchanted Village, just to support the service. But the road to hell is paved with good intentions, as is the road to Yeovil

  4. a) what are you doing on a bus with drunks? They don't come out until the pubs/clubs/offies shut; by then you should long be in bed, tucked up with Horlicks and a good book.

    b) family of seven running up and down the aisles? On a bus? a travelling bus? The little darlings will all fall over and hurt themselves by falling over your sticky-out leg, the drunks' sticky-out legs, the mums' assorted prams, and your shopping bag full of jars of olives. You'll all be in court on a charge of assault and battery before you can ring the bell.

  5. June - happy to oblige, as always.

    Isabelle - ditto June's comment. I do like to help people feel better about their lives.

    Maddie - yes! Reg Varney! I loved that show. It takes me straight back to my childhood, watching telly with a plate of jam sandwiches on my lap. (Well, on a plate ...)

    Friko - no one ever lets me forget the olives. I am branded.

  6. Anonymous8/9/10 15:34

    At least the bus has a driver. On the Tube, you were prisoner til you could make a mad dash to change carriages at the next stop.
    Still, I did find this amusing.From a non-bus-traveller's viewpoint. Of course.

  7. Happy place, happy place! Yeah, been there. Done that.

    Funny post.


  8. Anonymous8/9/10 23:29

    The last time I had a bus journey like that was in my student days. Don't think anyone was called Keira then. But does anyone get given the name Reg now?

    I promise never to complain about living in the sticks and being car/bike dependent.

  9. Worst of all is when the bus driver hugs the drunk and they start anecdotalizing (is that a word) about the great night they had out the night before... I guarantee it's safer to get off at the next stop and walk.

  10. hehe - thank godness I now drive! But I have met that family I am sure - maybe they were in Sydney on holiday!

  11. Quick - get rich and start taking taxis! Everything happens to you on a bus (well, not everything, but give it time)and although this is very entertaining for the rest of us, there's a message there - keep away from buses!

  12. Anonymous9/9/10 00:36

    Maybe you should take a taxi.
    I never use buses. I can't afford them.

    Have a nice day, Boonie

  13. Wasn't Reg Varney's sister called Olive?

  14. Fran, you have ruined my lovely image of English red buses with a cheeky chappie conductor helping me on with my baskets of fruit while winking at all the 'old dears' in a Dick van Dyke way.

  15. Your adventures on the local bus never seems to end! You must live in a very exciting area! Lots of drunks and people trying to take their duvets on a ride:)

  16. You can bet your bottom dollar (see, I'm inclusive too) that any weirdo or drunken person will choose me to sit beside or harangue on a street - I put out that sort of 'I can be fleeced easily' aura.

  17. Moreidlethoughts - ah, yes, the Tube. Now, since moving away from London, that's something I don't miss. But I bet there'd be loads of potential stories ...

    Clarissa - you obviously recognised the scene!

    Christine - if no one gets called Reg these days, it's a crying shame.

    Steve - I have more than once considered getting out and walking. But I'm a lazy slob. I'd rather be leaned on by a drunk.

    Shirley - those families are everywhere. And even if they're not, you can still hear them from where they are.

    Chris Stovell - but I love my bus. And what would I write about?

    Boonie - I have a season ticket. It helps me to pretend that I'm getting the bus ride for free, when no money actually changes hands.

  18. Martin - such good lateral thinking. (As I said to Friko, will no one let me forget the olives?)

    Brigid - you have been watching too many old movies, I'm afraid. No one's helped anyone onto a bus in this country since 1953.

    Alexandra - drunks and duvets (but thankfully not both together - yet) are what make up my life's main thrills, yes.

    French Fancy - in which case, can you lend me some cash?

  19. Lovely post Fran. When I lived in North London I used to get the 73 bus everywhere so am well acquainted with the 'characters' you so vividly describe. Now I take the tube which contains such delights as being crushed against a BO'd armpit and watching those blokes sitting with their legs splayed showing off their tackle. Oh delightful . . . .

  20. Oh yes. This post sums up exactly why I avoid public transport like the plague. Horrible invention. All the buses should be sold and the proceeds used to buy cars for everyone who hasn't got one!

  21. Thanks for the memory nudge of bus riding. I had forgotten buses since I now live in a small town. Sitting next to a sticky kid ....... the worst. Or else they're kicking.

    A great funny post. Made me LOL.

  22. Jane - you make sitting with the inebriated on the bus sound positively heavenly in comparison ...

    Annie - no, no, no - you have it all wrong. Buses are where life happens. I'll stick with them, drunks and all.

    Manzanita - Sticky AND kicking is worst of all.

  23. Anonymous11/9/10 01:18

    You summed up 50% of the youth of Britain with the 'Keira' sentence lol, personally I blame 'Footballers' Wives'. I'll never forget hearing one Chav 'lady' shouting, "will you effin shut up, Chardonnay!" in the wine aisle one day. I still don't know if she was actually talking to a child or a bottle. I'll hazard a guess at the bottle, it was probs calling out to her! :)

  24. Gill - why are we naming our children after wines? On the other hand, I guess Chardonnay is better than being called Carling Black Label.


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