Friday, March 10, 2006

Wednesday 8th March 2006. To town.

The number 43 bus runs from Manchester Piccadilly to Manchester Airport, and back again. There is nothing particularly exciting about this bus, except that it’s the bus that I get to town (and back again). I suppose it would be fantastic to travel around the world to amazing places and write about it, like a travel writer, but I can’t do that. What I can do is get the 43 bus to town (and back again), and, you know, waste not want not and all that. Moreover, I think getting the 43 bus can be pretty good. Take today for example.

The walk to the bus stop was particularly special this morning. It was raining but it wasn’t too cold. It was the kind of rain that isn’t obviously falling; it just sort of hangs all around, making the world, for a time, a damp place. Damp, but emotive. I past a rusty climbing frame, sitting at the edge of a garden in some overgrown grass, which somehow looked slightly less dejected in the rain than it usually did, perhaps because it could more easily remember, in the glistening wet, the brightness of the primary colours that it once boasted. Gee, what nonsense.

The old men who walk places at 10 am had their big umbrellas up, umbrellas that have things like ‘Legal and General’ written on them. One without an umbrella was walking towards one with, and as I passed they stopped in front of each other, sharing shelter and a few inaudible words. They walked up to each other like you might walk up to someone in the next room to see what they were up to.

I got to the damp bus stop thinking that it would be nice to know enough people when I’m old so that I can always find someone to walk up to on a rainy Wednesday morning. A Day Rider went up to £3 on Sunday, apparently. So that’s still only 1.50 a pop, (for the simple there and back again) and you get a good long ride, especially during rush hour. Can’t complain.

It was perhaps as damp inside the bus as it was outside, but warmer, muggy. I went upstairs, which is where I always sit, if I can. I opened a window to de-mug the air and my shoulder wiped clear a small patch of the steamed up window, heavy with condensation. From this peep hole I watched small patches of the world go by.

About 17 people sat with me on this upper deck, and I was stunned by how everyone there, young and old, managed to hold the same silent expression on their faces. It was kinda weird actually.

An old couple sat behind and across from me. I’m not sure what it is with old people, why I was noticing them particularly on this journey. Perhaps because at 10.15 am it was primetime for old people in public places, or perhaps because they carry that native look on a day like this. They are the natives of this land of mid morning drizzle in a south Manchester estate. He wore a beanie hat that rose to a peak and sat slightly high on his head. His brown corduroys had wriggled up exposing a classic pair of old man socks. They were natives of the mid morning 43, but would be equally at home drinking tea in a Sainsbury’s supermarket café.


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