On a bus to Oxford Street

Thursday 25th August   

I am on a bus to Oxford Street, and we are stuck in a long queue of traffic in Park Lane, so I have got my little note-book out, and I have decided to write.  This is not my usual routine at all; normally I compose myself, and have been thinking on and off about what to write all day, so am quite prepared.  That doesn’t stop the mind and the fingers on the keyboard wandering off a bit, as I am sure you have noticed, but I generally have a theme, at least at the outset.  The bus isn’t moving at all, and one or two people have gone up to the driver to ask him what the hold-up is, or if they can be let off before the next stop.  Our driver just shrugs his shoulders, and no, he cannot open the doors anywhere but a proper bus stop.  How I long now for the old Route-masters, which you could hop on and off when they stopped at the lights, or when they were passing an interesting shop – you got up and stood on the little square platform and just waited until the road was clear and the bus was just crawling along, and there, in an instant you were off.  Nowadays you have to wait, patiently or otherwise, until the correct stop, and then backtrack to try to find your destination.  I suppose it must be a lot safer, but not half as much fun.  And now we are at the bus stop, and there is an altercation.  A rather loud and pushy woman is insisting on getting on with her double buggy and two rather dirty and screaming offspring strapped in.  But there are already two pushchairs in the space available.  Both of the occupying mothers are Muslims, with the full hijab, or whatever it is called, on with just a little portcullis for their eyes to see out of, and they seem completely ambivalent and unconcerned at the fracas further up the bus. I seem to remember mothers had to fold pushchairs in the old days, and they were stashed in a little cubbyhole under the stairs. The woman trying to get on, who is white and overweight, and is really beginning to upset everyone, with her overtly racist comments, is not giving way.  The driver shrugs his shoulders again and turns round to announce that unfortunately he is terminating the bus here due to circumstances beyond his control.  After a minute or two of bemused silence, we all, old and young, hijabs, pushchairs and all, obediently troop to the front of the bus and squeeze past the woman who caused the problem in the first place.  An immovable object, she still glares angrily at all and sundry. I am rather glad to be off the bus anyway, and head into Hyde Park, and the nearest bench to complete this little piece.  Another day’s blog completed.