Waiting for the 59. 6pm.
Just behind the bus stop a man and a woman were standing side by side, stock-still, looking out on to the street.
The woman said, without turning her head, ‘Gloria was saying to me, “I think you’ve lost weight!”, and then when I took off my jacket she was saying, “Ah no, you haven’t actually.”‘
‘Charming.’ The man began scrolling through messages on his phone.
The woman continued to face forward. ‘My parents used to tell me I was fat when I was growing up. When my mother said it I cried. When my father said it I cried like a baby.’
This seemed to me to be quite a profound thing to confess, especially to someone who wasn’t really listening. I guess sometimes we just have to share what’s in our heart.
Does it make any difference to you that the man and woman were both police officers, in full uniform (padded shirt and trousers, hi-vis jackets, reinforced boots, helmets, puffy gloves)? They were standing by the bus stop as part of their evening patrol.
They were so still. They reminded me of a set of IKEA salt and pepper pots – round and sort of earthen.
35. 6pm. Top deck, on the right, about halfway down.
I sat down next to a man in his forties who was watching a nature documentary on his smartphone. The narrative voiceover was in a highly unnatural style that we hear all the time now, with stressed syllables getting three times the emphasis they need. I caught the words ‘Alex has been investigating the behaviour of these birds in their natural habitat…’ before the man noticed I had sat down and began fast-forwarding the video, perhaps out of embarrassment that he had been caught watching a bird documentary on the bus.
He stopped just near the end of the documentary, and I heard the following glorious words which I thought were appropriate for today (apologies to any non-Londoners – this will fill you in):
‘The question is, of course… just how… did that crow… do it?’
68. 10pm. Top deck, on the left halfway down.
It was a miserable, lonesome night. Rain pelted the windows, which had steamed up only slightly with the collective warmth of me and the other five passengers on the top deck. We shivered, collectively.
It took me twenty minutes to notice that someone had written two words onto the condensation on the front window: love yourself
Well, if anything’s worth saying then that surely is!
Waiting for my bus, near Waterloo. 8.30pm.
A 172 pulled up. I happened to be standing in the perfect spot, right in the heart of the bus shelter, so I found myself pleasingly aligned with the bus driver when the doors opened. The 172 wasn’t my ride so I stood well back as people bundled on with bags and hats and icy air. When the last person was safely on board, the driver closed the doors.
Just then, to my left, a woman came running down the road towards the bus. The driver saw her and gallantly re-opened the doors. He turned in his seat and saw me right across from him in the bus shelter. We watched each other, smiling – as the running woman passed right through our sight-line (arms in the air as though through a finishing line) to the 176 which had pulled up behind.
345. 3pm. Bottom deck, standing by the back doors.
Three old ladies, roughly the same shape and size, filed slowly past me and descended from the bus, plop, plop, plop like three perfectly round rosary beads through unhurried fingers.
149 towards London Bridge.
My favourite bus stop name in London – it makes me smile every time. So apt for the whole of this city really. Imagine it spoken aloud by the pre-recorded lady-voice.
‘Commercial Street / Worship Street’