Thursday, June 24, 2004

I travel to London.

I lived there for ten years. Worked there for longer. I know London.

‘Farringdon Road, please’ I ask the bus driver.

‘Mumble mumble mumble machine’ he replies.

‘Sorry?’ I reply.

‘Mumble mumble mumble machine’ he replies.

‘Sorry, you what?’ I reply.

‘You need to buy a ticket at the machine,’ he replies.

All this replying has already delayed the bus. I was last in the queue, so it’s fairly clear to everybody whose fault it is. I am carrying a suitcase as well, so I look like a tourist.

I give the people on the bus an ‘I’m not a tourist really, honest’ look, and turn to find the machine. There is no machine.

‘Sorry. Where’s the machine?’ I ask.

I am officially now the Most Unpopular Person on the Bus. The driver, however, is kindly and patient. It is, he explains, outside at the bus stop.

I apologise for the confusion, and say that I’ll get the next bus. I’m not in a hurry.

‘No problems, I’ll wait for you’.

I give my other passengers a weak look. One man looks at me as though I was the man responsible for introducing Scrappy-Doo.

I drag the suitcase out and fumble for change at the machine, which prints me a ticket. By this point, Steve Norris is considering ‘Banning JonnyB from the city’ as a key plank for his next manifesto.

I re-enter the bus and show the driver my ticket. He pulls away. I stare furiously out of the window.