Friday, 15 February 2008

Biche's Travails part 1 - The Bus to Finsbury Park

Don't say I didn't warn you..

I arrive at the bus stop in Crouch End at approximately 08.55, an unfortunate ten minutes behind the aspired to (usual being an overstatement) time, as there was no food in the house bar some stale Greek bread, and my hair appeared to have been possessed with the spirit of a 90's boyband and formed into two limp curtains over my forehead.
Friends I have spoken to remark how they always see the same people at their bus stops, some to the point of chatting/sharing coffee/life stories. Due to a vain refusal to wear glasses and a general dislike of anyone and everything before about 10am, I have never had this joy, but given that the friends who expound such morning wittering are also the sort of people who end up being ranted at by mad tramps, I'm not too bothered.

Today I am standing next to a woman in an unflattering white knitted hat and a coat that I enviously notice must be a lot warmer than mine. Due to January Sales bargain blindness my current coat is a woollen jacket that does up rather tighty around the waist, leaving either a pleasing silhouette or a gap of midriff and a cold arse, depending on weather and stance. Hat woman is sucking fervently on a fag and appears completely oblivious to the scrawny ipodded man on the other side of her, who is noticeably and irritatingly moving out of the path of every grey exhale. Looking at him in his long black coat that sufficiently warms his nether regions and poncy black goatee, I can tell he is probably imagining himself as Neo from the Matrix dodging a hale of bullets in slow motion, not a graphic design assistant in a Camden Market coat bobbing about like a chicken. Tool.

Together we stand in a little line along with about ten other Crouch End Work Proles and alternate between blankly staring across the road at Walter Purkiss and Sons dropping ice and fish everywhere as they set up for the day, at the hideous Cargiant advert on the bus shelter that is so sexist it must be a huge ironic joke I don't quite get, and to the right, where the bus is already lumbering towards us

As usual the novelty of the British Queue completely crumbles once the bus actually arrives, and everyone pushes on in a persistent yet silent throng, beeping their oysters before going to their assigned seats.. old people at the front, annoying little kids, parents and lazy women in heels downstairs, and everyone else upstairs. It always surprises me when people don't get these unwritten rules; sit at the front downstairs and some old person will always come and give you the evil eye and mutter grumpily at you until you are shamed into giving your seat up, sit at the back downstairs and you will get fleas and burst eardrums from the kids (word of warning, once they can speak you might as well give up scowling too.. nowt worse than when they stop shrieking to go 'Mummy why is that lady pulling mean faces at me?')

Likewise, tip for champions, if it is a sunny day, don't sit at the front of the bus on the way to Finsbury Park or you will be blinded for the entire length of Stroud Green Road which, what with the traffic lights that appear to be having a nervous breakdown and the local families taking their kids to school who appear to think that once you drop a sprog the rules of the road no longer apply so you can slowly drag your brood across the road at any time like a fucking family of ducks, can be some time.

That said, if you are not late for work or staring into the sun, the journey down Stroud Green can be quite pleasant. Where else would you find shops called L'AN KOMPRESSOR 2000 or else gaze into afro hair salons and wig shops on the way to work? Okay quite a lot of places, but it's good to know that should you ever want a washing up bowl, some goat meat, a cheap lightbulb or a bunch of human hair on your way home from work then you would be able to procure such items speedily thanks to SG's many bargain amenities.

Finally the bus turns the corner by the mysterious art shop where I have never seen a living soul enter or exit, the blinded people at the front heave a just audible sigh which cut short as the bus turns the final corner which thrusts them back into the sun. Then silently we all stand up and begin the next social dilemma, which is whether to allow the dazed people from the front of the bus to go down the stairs before you. I usually don't, reckoning that I will never see any of these people again so don't really care. Unfortunately due to my aforementioned introspection this might actually not be the case, which would explain why I always seem to get barged into as I stride towards the tube*. I imagine somewhere there is a woman sitting bored in another office off Oxford Street, ugly wool hat in her desk drawer writing 'So I was at the bus stop next to Matrix Guy and Rude Cow in the Stupid Jacket...'

Next week - The Tube to Oxford Circus

*although at least half of the barging is caused by people dawdling as they check out their reflection in the mirrored shop window next to the station and not checking out the cursing figure who is reflected just behind their reflection

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