Sunday, August 27, 2006

Transitory Family

By this bus we are united.
Briefly we are caught up together; our fates are entwined and interdependent.
The bus slows and we all slow,
it clips the curb and we all jolt in our seats,
her phone rings and we all hear it,
his baby screams and we all endure it,
they smile and we all are warmed by it,
he lights up and we all tolerate it,
she sobs on the front seat and we all feel curious pity.

The bus breaks down and we all swarm off.
(But not quite all; one old lady stays behind, too long in years to follow the crowd. She is in no rush, and will try her chances with the mechanics.)
We all avoid saying thank you to the driver as we all leave because we all know it will sound sarcastic. We all appreciate that it’s not his fault, and we all are secretly glad of a break in routine.
We all swarm off our failed 43 and march as one to the next stop where we all wait for the next bus.

(But not quite all; I keep walking to a stop further on and so sever my ties with that transitory family.)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

On Interior Lights

That time of year is here again (already? how fast the summer fades!) when the bus’ interior lights flicker into life sometime during the ride home. On a rainy late afternoon, heavy clouds bring premature dusk.

The light outside reminds me of a solar eclipse I sat out for some years back (a little disappointing, I hoped for dramatic daytime blackness, not a simulation of overcast Manchester.)

Autumn is drawing in, descending with a weight that will brown the leaves, then pluck them from their branches.

And with it the buses become illuminated. While exterior light penetrates walls and breaks boundaries, opens paths and frees us to the world, interior light confirms edges, secures exclusion, enhances boundaries.

So as autumn comes, so does a heightened sense of our spaces, those enclosures we move between, that hold out and keep in.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Java for Students and Delightless Pop

I am like you.

I feel my journey is being sabotaged by an inescapable impatience; an irrational itch for the unobtainable. Will whitening my knuckles as I grip the dimpled orange bar make the bus move faster? Will my unjustified frustration toward the guy who fumbles in a bag for his bus pass help him in his search?

I want to relax and enjoy the passage through familiar places and fruitful thoughts, but instead I fight a weakness (this irrational impatience) that so rudely pinches and prods me into discomfort.

[That guy across from me is reading Java for Students, and some boy a few seats back has delightless pop music hissing out of his mobile phone]

Who are we to be so controlled by the parts of us we would rather let go of, or excise with a sharp knife? But it is not so simple; we are not the sum of a thousand separate parts that can be popped out like Lego bricks if they don’t suit our tastes.

A single person waves the bus down at every stop, at every five yards. Perhaps if I concentrate hard enough the bus driver will stop picking up and dropping off, and I will get there on time.

Friday, August 18, 2006

On Liking Blue (and Orange).

I sit, surrounded by blue and orange, the colour scheme of the 43 bus. They’re ‘complementary colours’ I remember from school.

“What a lovely blue this is! And especially when placed next to this delightful orange. I had never known that blue could look so good. Up until now, red has been my favourite colour, but now I think it must be blue. Or perhaps orange, the orange here looks so wonderful; perhaps I will paint my house orange! Sitting here surrounded by such superb colours, I feel happy, and the world is going well for me. I am so glad I got a stagecoach bus today. I will certainly get one tomorrow, and then perhaps become a share holder. How I do love blue and orange.”

I have these thoughts every day.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

(It's not the 43)

I board a bus, it’s not the 43, but it is a bus, a step in the right direction, though it’s not the 43. A bus “that takes you to town!”, as I am reassured seven times by a small boy calling out at the front to a pair of adults who might be his parents.

There’s no top deck (it’s not the 43), and so we make do, huddled up along each bench, while mothers at the front tactfully tessellate their pushchairs.

Did you know that since I’ve been cycling more often, people have been posting me their bus passes and pleading with me to get the bus and blog about it? Seriously, I know, it’s crazy! It’s happened loads of times!

Well, ok, maybe not loads. A few times though. Well, once, for sure. And, I guess, technically speaking, it wasn’t a bus pass in the envelope, but it was money! Or at least, it was a request for money, strictly speaking. And it wasn’t so much from a fan of my blog, as from our gas supplier. But still, pretty cool huh?

Anyway, I’m on the bus (though not the 43) and it keeps stopping every twenty yards to pick up more passengers, more mothers with pushchairs, and I see a beautiful dance, The Pushchair Dance, that I usually miss from sitting on the top deck. Each time a pushchair gets on or off the dance begins as they deftly rearrange themselves in that tiny space.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

A brief return.

And I was back, earlier than expected. It was like the feeling of returning to school after a long break –I was suddenly reminded of how familiar it all was, this experience which had been tidied into the store cupboard of my mind: The glow of the orange ’43’ appearing through the rain; a wobbly walk to the top deck where a I fling my sodden bag on my favourite seat, graciously waiting for my return; the rain running down the window near my head, distorting the outside world into a fluid assortment of shape and muted colour; a not-too-grubby copy of the Metro, which has faithfully continued it’s decline into tabloid in my absence, but which I thumb through nevertheless; a smoker at the back of the bus who waits not a minute after I sit down before adding to the atmosphere.

I sigh and smile and wipe the rain from my face. This is, without a doubt, a bus journey through south Manchester.