Reasons just to agree that your guitar is a violin and avoid complications

I was on the bus with my guitar.

This isn't because only my guitar will agree to travel with me, although if you've read any of my other posts about what happens to me on buses, you would be forgiven for thinking this.  (Check out the 'Me on the buses' posts and make yourself feel better about your life.)

Anyway, I'm here to tell you that if you get on a bus with a guitar, don't expect a quiet ride home.  Or to maintain any kind of good reputation in your local area.

'Got your violin, then?' one old chappie said, chortling, as I sat down on one of the seats at the front where you're sideways on to the rest of the passengers.  (I always hate this.  My profile isn't my best feature, which is a shame, as it's actually my face.  I would prefer to be able to say, 'My navel is not my best feature' or 'One of the toes on my right foot is not my best feature.'  My face? - that's kind of public.)

So, the old man's chortling away, waiting for my reply.  I just wish people who know they can't hear your answers wouldn't strike up conversations.  Maybe he was a dentist before he retired.

'It's not a violin,' I said.  'It's a guitar.'
'It's a car?  Looks like an instrument to me.  Ha ha.  A violin?'
'No, not a violin.  A guiTAR.'
'Pardon?  Speak up, lass.'

By now, everyone further down the bus knew there were, at the front, a) a woman with a guiTAR; b) a very deaf man; c) a situation potentially more interesting than just turning your bus ticket over and over until you reach your stop.

'I said, it's a guiTAR.'
'Is it a double bass?'
'No, a guiTAR.'

Okay, there was nothing for it, but to mime.  Hopefully, he'd get the point.  So I laid the guitar case on my lap and strummed away at it.  I just wish I hadn't chosen a moment at which the bus had stopped and thirteen other passengers were boarding, all wondering why I was pretending to play a guitar case.  And at this point, the old guy seemed to have lost interest for a while and was staring out of the window as though he had nothing to do with the situation.  Thanks, granddad.  I owe you one.

Everyone moved down the bus, steering well clear of the dork strumming a bag.

Which is when, of course, my persecutor decided he still wasn't satisfied.

'What is it?'
'A guiTAR.  See?' I said, still strumming.  (By the now, the repetitive action was a sort of comfort.  You know, like rocking backwards and forwards in your cot, or banging your head against a wall.)
'Oh, it's a guiTAR!'  And then he started to mime.  Only he didn't have a guitar.  He had a musical walking stick.  Now we are a band.  Yay!  What shall we sing?
'It's a guitar,' he repeated.
'That's right.  A guitar.  Guitar.'  I don't know why I kept repeating 'a guitar' too.  I was beginning to lose all sense of reality.

'Where have you been playing that, then?  In a pub?' he said.  (Oh, please, no more, no more.)
'It hurts? Why does it hurt?  Is it very heavy?'

There are days when bus travel goes well, folks. Honestly, there are.

Yeah, so it was two o'clock in the morning, and the guitar weighed a ton, and she'd walked for miles to get home.  But  compared to being interrogated by rabid octogenarians, it was bliss.


  1. I chortled along with this, remembering when I used to carry my cello on the bus, hockey stick tucked into the music pocket. 'How do you get that under your chin?' was the question I used to suffer.

    Couldn't get into your last post after trying a couple of times.

  2. You could have given him a couple of verses of 'The Wheels On The Bus'!

  3. Hi Chris - our daughter used to have a cello - even worse, yes! As for the previous post, it's a long story, but it was an announcement that I'd signed up to Twitter, but then I de-signed myself in a fit of craven fear, and deleted the post. Sorry. And the same to anyone else who was bewildered by me, although you shouldn't be finding this unusual by now.

    Martin - I was very tempted to give him forty-nine verses of The Wheels on the Bus and then hopefully he would never have bothered me again.

  4. The best answer to nip this kind of thing in the bud is to snarl: it's an effing uzi - you want some, granddad? I guarantee you will never have to suffer this kind of treatment on a bus ever again. Mainly because you will not be allowed onto a bus ever again.

  5. It always surprised me how nosey people on buses could be, all in the name of striking up a conversation. Funny how having your nose in a book isn't a hint that you don't want to visit with strangers today;-)

  6. I think somebody should just follow you around with a camera - you know, A Day In The Life of Fran sort of thing. I'm sure it'd get more viewers than, say, a royal wedding. Thank god you don't drive a car, Miss. We'd be missing out on a lot.

  7. Steve - could you just send me details of any Leamington buses you ever ride on? I will avoid them at all costs, you hooligan.

    Cinette - it's being in an enclosed space. People know they have you trapped. The nose in the book thing never works either because people want to tell you what they think about the book you're reading. Perhaps a paper bag over the head would be a hint, but then again ...

    Deborah - a CAMERA? Did you READ what I said about my profile?

  8. SusanFrances21/11/10 12:43

    Love reading your blog. and having a really should be published( for money!!)
    I also have list of your recently read books to look out for in the charity shops......I resent paying full price!!

  9. I once had to carry a friend's double bass on the bus home. It was much bigger than she was (and a bit bigger than me). I only did it the once. You can imagine....

  10. Tres funny (not sure why I am being French, probably something with Ireland being taken over by the Europeans this weekend)

    Loved this but 'He had a musical walking stick', emm. so do I and no one in my band (of one) complains.

  11. I want SO MUCH to read this aloud to Husband, who's sitting across the room watching me throw back my head and laugh long and loud.
    But he wouldn't think it was that funny anyway, his not owning the embarrassment-potential gene...

  12. Oh 'fess up Fran, you were busking on the underground again.
    I couldn't get into your last post either, pleased it wasn't just me as I tend to feel a bit persecuted at times.

  13. ... But then she tripped and fell into the water - which was already stained an ominous red - and now, on dark nights, there can occasionally be heard a distant, watery strumming from the depths. Still, at least she took the octogenarian with her.

  14. SusanFrances - that's exactly how I buy books, getting recommendations and then keeping a list for when I'm in the secondhand book shop. We are such skinflints. Thanks for your nice comments.

    imagespast - yes, I'd imagine that would be something you'd only do once, like naked skydiving or swimming the Atlantic with an elephant on your back.

    Brigid - merci beaucoup.

    June - there are bound to be some tablets he can take for that lack.

    Linens - I would LOVE to busk. It's a dream of mine.

    Isabelle - in a Gothic mood, eh? Loved it. It needs a nice Pre-Raphaelite painting to go with it.

  15. Apparently logic has escaped this man. Violins and guitars are obviously different sizes! Maybe he was just feigning bad hearing to have a laugh. No, I doubt that. Conversations on the bus can be tough!

  16. Living with two people who are both deaf - one very and the other slightly (especially when he doesn't want to hear!), this conversation has an all too familiar ring to me!

  17. Oh Fran. Are you sure you don't seek out octogenarians to engage them in amusing conversation for our benefit? But I am impressed - you play the guiTAR!

  18. loveable - no, I don't think he was feigning. There were signs.

    Jee - I can't talk - I myself suffer from that horrid past-your-late-40s syndrome in which you have to lipread a bit in crowded rooms. I am such a hypocrite, really.

    Jayne - I do play the guitar. In fact, there is a reason why you will never see me and Suzi Quatro in the same room.

  19. You are in wonderful form, Fran. Excellent. Back on the buses too.
    I like it.

    What I really don't like is that you are romping ahead so fast in the follower stakes. Not fair. You see that, don't you? Are they all your students??

    My blogging days are slowing down; an old lady isn't a bus, after all, not even a musical one.

    So, kindly send me some of your followers, would you please.

  20. It's worse with gravy. But that's another story.

    Did you delete a post about T*****r? I can help, if help be needed.

  21. You can tell a story like few others : Made me have a bath (No, I said made me have a LAUGH)

  22. Yay for octogenarians and deafness. So entertaining.

  23. You and buses just don't mix, do you?

    I loved this story, although I'm happy it didn't happen to me. :) A gui-TAR!

  24. Next time treat them all to Ten Green Bottles . Once they'd got into the swing of things , you could have eaten your chips in peace .

  25. Friko - Patience, woman, patience! I can't load up comments until the end of the day because at school my blog comes up as 'banned material' if I try to access it. Of course I wouldn't miss you out! And, no, as far as I know, the followers aren't my students, unless they're masquerading cleverly as grown-ups from all around the world. It's the not-a-mommy blogs which seem to be doing the trick, strangely! I know you prefer the bus ones ...

    And, please note, Friko, I have done you a comment all of your own, in its own space, to make up for my tardiness ...

  26. brokenbiro - the Twitter escapade was a moment of madness when I decided it was a good idea, signed up, wrote a blog saying, 'Hey, I'm now a Twit' or something like that, and then decided against it, and unsigned. Twitter said something horrid to me then like 'Now you've gone away, don't think we'll ever have you back, you loser'. I may reconsider .... but it scared me stupid when I looked at what seemed like twenty conversations all happening at once.

    Alan - your comment about the bath and then the laugh made ME bath ... laugh! Thank you for your comment about my storytelling - it warms my little heart.

    Jenny - they usually seem to come together, strangely, the octogenarian and the deafness.

    SmitandSon - Maybe I'll start 'A Million Green Bottles ...' and then everyone will get off, terrified. Good tip.

  27. Did I ever tell you I used to play violin. It was a tommygun to other people.

    Just catching up with your blogs. Only I haven't been able to catch up with all your blogs in my absence - you're far too prolific a blogger.


  28. You're going to the bog? Oh, sorry... you mean you have written a blog?

  29. The horror, the horror. The number of Al Capone jokes I used to get trudging to school with a violin. Thanks for reviving those happy memories!

  30. Bluestocking Mum - That's perspective for you - to one, a violin, to another, a tommygun.

    Annie - No, silly. I said I've bought a DOG.

    Chris - I can imagine the Al Capone jokes. People think they're so funny, don't they?!!

  31. Good thing you didn't have a xylophone with you. I have no idea what that means. I just wanted to comment because I laughed a lot while reading this post.

  32. I don't know why but I'm reminded of that scene in Airplane Fran- where the nun strums the guitar to the sick child:) You haven't got a habit as well have you? (And I'm talking about crack.)

  33. Falaxy - thanks! Glad it amused you. There are plenty more stupid bus stories if you want them.

    dbs - ah, a xylophone. Haven't taken one of those on a bus before. There's always a first time, I guess.

    Jane - I haven't seen the film, but I have got a habit. Or two. Or three. But not crack. Yet.


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