I have recently had to change my transport strategy. This was due to rather cannily moving to within two miles of my miserable workplace as opposed to a hundred light years away in London terms, although strangely, my commute takes exactly the same amount of time. I can only assume I have happened upon a space-time wormhole in the middle of West London fuelled by the constant smug afterglow of a yummy-mummy pilates class, and I'm sure Stephen Hawking will be along to prod my face shortly, just as soon as he can disentangle himself from the sweet embrace of his...post-graduate mathematics students. Oh please, we are long past stripper jokes in this here parish!
Anyway, as a delicious consequence of this, I now only uses buses to aid my weary trudge to hell and back every day, and have left behind the brutal reality of the tube network. But but but! This seismic change has unforeseen drawbacks. Here I was, naively thinking that my life would improve tenfold after escaping from the gripping claustrophobia and constant underlying threat of TERROR on the Piccadilly Line. What I didn't realise is that leaving the tube behind means I have absolutely no idea what is happening in London. I had a heavenly visitation from some out-of-town pals recently, and as I was desperately casting about myself for things with which to entertain them, I realised that without the daily presence of tube ads telling me what films were out, what exhibitions were on or what gripping thrillers had been published by authors with impossibly glamorous names, I was at a complete loss as to what the young urban lovelies of this city actually did with themselves of an evening. I couldn't even tell them what was new in the exciting, fast-paced world of multivitamins. In the end, I had to get completely drunk and make a pissing fool of myself to keep them occupied, which I think worked out for everyone involved.
But quite apart from making me a cultural numbskull, the good ole' London bus has thrown up a whole new set of juicy irritants for me to gnaw on. Youths, for example, are far more pronounced on buses that they ever were on tubes. They take up 14 seats each, bark at each other in quasi-gangster accents about how many times they kicked that bloke in the head last night, they use words I don't understand which I can only surmise is specifically to make me feel like the oldest of old hags, and worst of all, the bastards get on free. Damn them all the way to Hades.
Bus drivers tend to be a very special brand of psycho too. I quickly learned that sitting at the front of the bus on the top deck is not, as I had previously thought, a way to cheaply simulate the giddy thrill of a rollercoaster, albeit a nasty themed rollercoaster based on a grotesque urban dystopia. Oh no. It is in fact a surefire way to induce bum-squeezing panic attacks at the sight of trees. Trees are all very nice and benign when you amble underneath them as God intended, but when you have had 2,000 branches whacked right in your face at 40mph, each one threatening to smash the bus window into a million eyeball-piercing fragments, at the whim of a crazed bus driver trying to make it back to the depot before his meth hit wears off, the mere sight of a majestic oak can send you quivering into the arms of strangers. True.
Ah well. No alternative for me, I guess. I could walk to work, but bugger that to Brighton and back. As my good friends the Patricks would say, Gary. See? Don't know what that means, do you, youth? Ha! I have my own words too! Tiny victory for me!