Tuesday, October 31, 2006

How it was.

Now it’s later in the evening, the 43 reduced to once every half an hour. I wait under rain and the orange street lights, surrounded by a haphazard scattering of evening bus riders; mothers and misfits and melancholy wanderers, and those that are like me, and those that are so different from me, and our breath and our sounds are muffled by the heavy clouds that linger not far above, up-lit with the pallid glow of the city.

I’ve been waiting for 45 minutes, watching the other buses role past and kick up spay, the damp slowly rising up my trouser legs. I wonder where all the 43 busses go when the sun goes down and the rain falls. Perhaps they migrate south.

Eventually, a single decker, left alone and struggling to cope. Through the heavily steamed windows I make out a heaving mass of people inside, and once aboard I can only hover in the door well, next to the driver, standing well forward of that notice - the notice that, as all bur riders know, we are not supposed to stand forward of.

I allow my eyes to wander across the sea of faces: such diversity. As we push southwards the passengers begin to thin, the bus breathing a sigh of relief as more people get off than on, and I find a seat behind a ginger haired student reading a book on the histories of women’s imprisonment.

There is no moral to this brief anecdote, it offers no emotional cadence and has no witty remarks to wrap it up, because this is not a story with an ending, this is just how it was.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Allow me to interrupt your 43 bus blog experience for a rare deviation. Yesterday, at the first ever annual Manchester Blog Awards, ‘43’ was named winner of the Blog of the Year category! Can you believe it?

What's that? What do you mean 'No'? Look, I was even given a logo to prove it.

Yes, an unlikely turn of events, especially given the quality of the competition: ‘43’ was shortlisted for Blog of the Year alongside the venerable Mancubist, and the witty and intelligently written Airport Diaries. The writer of the Airport Diaries and I were even given the opportunity to read a few of our posts out at the award ceremony at Urbis, which was tied in to the Manchester Literature Festival.

A big thanks goes out to the Manchizzle for masterminding and organising the awards, and also for therefore disqualifying herself from the competition and hence giving the rest of us a chance.

While I’m at it I’d also like to thank my wife for staying out late and supporting me even though she has to get up early because she has a real job.

In more (shamelessly self promoting) news, it’s been an busy few days for the 43 blog, as only a week ago I gave a short interview for Richard Fair on BBC Radio Manchester. In case you are curious Richard has kindly posted about it on the BBC Manchester Blog.

Please accept my apologies for interrupting normal viewing to bring you this (I couldn’t resist), more 43 proper coming soon.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Digital Journey

I must know, but I daren’t ask!

He is dressed all in black, broad shoulders, heavy build. His skin is tanned dark and thick fuzzy black sideburns extend from a dense head of black dreads that hang no lower then his ears. His feet are planted firmly on the floor and he stares intently forward, the front window absorbing his concentration like a giant video screen.

Then, suddenly, as the bus slows up, he whips out a compact digital camera, holds it out a foot in front of his face (in that slightly awkward manner so typical of digital camera users) and shoots. In an instant he has captured the view ahead in his little silver gadget – this familiar scene of Oxford Road converted into a million ones and zeros. Then the camera is gone, hidden somewhere within his black coat.

Only, as we pull into the next bus stop, the same thing happens again! And again, and again, all the way to Northenden. And I would absolutely love to know why. Who (apart from me) would take this much interest in the 43 bus route? But I daren’t ask.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

On Moving Forward

For the first time I board the brand new stagecoach double-decker. Stepping into the future, I buy my buss pass with anticipation.

What technological advances will be incorporated into this icon of 21st century travel? Perhaps personal video screens, or wireless internet, or a massaging electric seat, or a holographic assistant to tell me when my stop is approaching, or maybe even an escalator to carry me to the top deck.

From the outside it is clear that the designers of busses still feel that the future is marked by an increasing degree of curviness. The only obvious addition, apart from making things a bit more curvy, are roll-bar type structures running up the front edges, presumably to parry low hanging braches in leafy suburbs, or maybe for the odd monkey or two to hang from.

Once inside I confess to being a little disappointed. No heated seats, no wireless internet. The ‘stopping’ sign has been given a new sexy-curvy makeover, but really not much change at all.

Except, that is, for one phenomenal advancement. We are truly living in an age of progression. On this new model double-decker the no-smoking stickers are on the outside of the window! No longer will they be picked at and scratched and torn by bored commuters. I bet someone got a raise.

Monday, October 09, 2006


So many umbrellas!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Of Brass Letterboxes

We’re driving through Didsbury, something we do pretty regularly on this bus, and I gaze with envy at the large period housing that lines the road, with healthy driveways and giant front doors. A fair few of these houses have been converted into apartments, and I happen to notice that the front door of one such conversion has large letterboxes stacked from top to bottom, such that the majority of the door is in fact made of brass. I imagine the postman pushing letters through each box, on his tiptoes one minute, on his knees the next - poor guy (or girl). I picture them all landing in the same pile on the floor on the other side - anything to amuse myself (it doesn't take much).

Never A Dull Moment

I look down and see and black wallet on top of a bus stop. I wonder if there is any money in it? No, I’m sure there isn’t. But you never know, it might belong to someone who wants it back? No, it’s damp and mouldy and has obviously been there a long time. If there was anything of any value to anyone it would have been taken out. Really? But perhaps that’s what everyone thinks, and in fact it is housing a huge wodge of drug money? I doubt that very much. It’s a fabric wallet with a Velcro fastening, not posh enough, and it’s hanging slightly open, and look, it’s all damp and mouldy. But what if…? I could come back another day and have a look, or jump off the bus now and hoist myself up to see? No really, leave it, it is most defiantly not worth it. And you would look like a tramp.

The 43 pulls away before I even get to wondering about the large orange roadworks barrier and the baseball cap that similarly grace that bus stop roof. Saved for another day.