Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Port Out...

Today the top deck is peaceful and warm. A few muted sounds drift up from below; the hum of the engine is therapeutic. A guy with glasses and a brown coat (you know, that guy) is asleep in the back corner. Today the top deck is predominantly middle class. (Can I say that? I'm sure some of the other passengers would object.)

I look across the road to a 43 bus stuck in a queue of traffic heading south, and I'm glad I'm not on that bus (mainly because I'd then be going the wrong way, and I'd have to get off at the next stop and cross the road).

We pass house number one hundred and ninety nine on Palatine Road, and it looks like quite a Posh house, mainly because it has the house number carved out in words on a piece of stone. Their next-door neighbours, at No. 197, seem a little more down to earth.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Notes From The Field, No.1

notes from the field

Friday, November 24, 2006

Philosophies of the 43, No.2


Empiricists generally hold to the belief that the only way to have any idea about the timings of the bus is to actually go out and empirically measure the arrivals and departures. True Knowledge of The Bus, they say, comes only through what our senses can observe about the actual bus. Other methods are shunned, particularly the appeal to the Bus Timetable. Such an ancient text (sometimes up to six months old) offers no path to truth, and should not be taken as authoritative, argues the empiricist. Bus empiricists are a product of the enlightenment: we should no longer just unquestioningly accept the teachings of the Bible, the Ancient Philosophers, or indeed, the Bus Timetable.

Read more about empiricism here.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


A journey marked by magpies (there really are a lot of magpies) and piles of leaves, and a used nappy on the side of the pavement.
I waited a while for the bus to arrive, but that was ok; my gloves kept my hands warm and I listened to Sticky Fingers. Blue skies and orange leaves and the 43 bus is particularly well suited for this sunny-sunny-cold-cold-day and I pay nine pounds and fifty pence for a 'Mega Rider', but because 'mega' is not a word I like to say too much I just ask for a week pass. The bus driver seems to care that he is late and is in a hurry and now the laminate pouch that holds my ticket will have a crease in it all week, but I soon get over it.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Philosophies of the 43, No.1


To say that the bus is ‘on time’ or ‘late’ is not to state a fact about the tardiness of the bus, but rather to express a personal attitude towards the specific time that the bus gets to you. There is, according to expressivism, no fact of the matter as to the lateness of the bus.

A potential problem for the expressivist is that many people believe that a bus can be labelled according to the time it was supposed to arrive. Hence ‘look out, Beatrice, here comes the 9.10’ and ‘the 5.35 never even bloody turned up!’ are phrases that can be heard at many a British bus stop. It would follow from this that a bus could truly be late or early depending on when it arrived relative to the time it was supposed to arrive. So if the 9.10 arrives at 9.15, it would, as a matter of fact, be late.

The expressivist still has a few tricks up her sleeve though. She would argue that to attribute specific times to a bus is to mistake the common bus for an intercity train, or perhaps an aeroplane. This is an error that should be avioded, cliams the expressivist, because a train is a lot longer than a bus, and aeroplanes have big wings. Instead, the expressivist argues, there are just a bunch of times, and a bunch of busses, and no particular correlation between the two. It turns out there is plenty of evidence to support this claim. SO, to describe a particular bus as the 9.10 to Piccadilly is a category mistake.

If a commuter turns up to the bus stop at 9.15 and the 43 arrives a few moments later, they would be quite rational (according to our expressivist) to say that the bus was exactly on time. However, the old lady who has been waiting since 9.00 would also be rational to say, of the very same bus, that it was late. They are simply expressing attitudes towards the bus that are neither true nor false.

A recent survey shows that many bus drivers are expressivists, and subsequently tend to ignore passengers who complain that the bus is late, since they will always arrive at the stop at the same time as the bus and describe it accordingly as exactly on time.

Read more about expressivism here.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

On Yellow Coats

When it rains, and the air is cold and thick, and you can see your breath, I think it is quite understandable to be unusually appreciative of the colourful company waiting at the bus stop. A short stocky man in a yellow rain coat, who I have seen before on a number of occasions (always wearing that same rain coat) confidently strode up to our little gathering. He had a brown woollen hat pulled over his head and a smile as wide as his face. In a thick Jamaican accent he chatted to an older man, who he evidently knew to some degree (no doubt they had met at this bus stop a few times before). From their conversation I learned that the Co-Op in civic is due to close after Christmas, ('What's going to take it's place?' 'I don't know...Asda?') and that the women with two dogs across the road takes the dogs for a walk at 4am every morning, without fail. Apparently.
This little experience got my day off to a good start. It might have been that the familiar Jamaican, with his low, heavy stature, all weather clothing and wonderful smile had imparted to me a sense of being able to face whatever the day may throw up, with a smile thrown in to boot.