I am having the time of my life, and I should explain why I happen to be sitting here chuckling loudly whilst sharing secret glances of mirth with a couple of my fellow passengers.
Do you remember the passenger from hell I sat opposite one morning a few weeks/months/lifetimes ago?
Well things have moved on. It’s now 17.00 on Thursday 7th May 2009 and… she got on to this coach a few minutes ago!
But before she got on she had an argument with the driver over the stowage of her folding cycle in the luggage compartment (which is, naturally, accessed from the back – and outside – of the coach). It’s the place where folding bicycles are kept – she knows this – so I’m guessing the altercation was because the luggage space wasn’t to her liking today.
But the truth is I don’t really know what the cause of the argument was. I also don’t know what words were said. I only know that she flounced in to her seat (not opposite me thank fuck!) with all the grace and temperament of a four-year-old having a major temper tantrum.
This behavioural trait should come as no surprise, given the ‘I was here first’ comment that she snarled at me the last time we crossed swords.
Eeww, now I’m having a homosexual image which involves seeing her undressed and showing off her enormous cock. No Bren, snap out of it. She *is* a cock!
Once she’d flumped in to her seat she began unpacking her rucksack – firmly in Spoilt Brat mode.
She retrieved and banged down on to the table item after item. A red biro, a bright pink felt pen – she clearly likes writing in noticeable colours. I bet she underlines everything several times too! – a Dennis The Menace water bottle (I kid you not!), a reflective cycle vest, a pair of headphones…
Dennis The Menace, I should add for those who aren’t aware, is a character in a children’s comic called The Beano.
There was a brief pause in the unpacking and banging while she retrieved, with awful grace, her Dennis The Menace water bottle from the other side of the table – and the territorial waters(!) of the poor sap lucky man sitting opposite her. Her aggressive body language managed to convey that it was *his* fault her bottle had rolled towards him.
Our eyes caught – mine and his – and we sniggered. Errant water bottle safely retrieved the unpacking and banging continued until the Holy Grail of All Rucksackdom was retrieved: a piece of scrap paper.
With a great deal of flourishing she uncapped the red biro, peered at her watch twice and wrote what I presume was the time of day on her scrap of paper.
Then she proceeded to glance over her shoulder and sent many Vulcan Death Glares at the driver. I wanted to ask her to desist – he was driving the bus after all – but her Vulcan Death Glares are obviously as defective as her sense of humour gene.
With what I presume was the date and time safely recorded, she retrieved a large sheaf of papers in a plastic display envelope before putting almost everything else away.
With some kind of mental balance restored she proceeded to scribble – with the pink felt pen – on various pages of paper. The bundle resembled how a pile of college assignments might look while they were awaiting a grumpy tutor to mark them. Except…
I managed to catch sight of a logo and a name and I think I know – or at least have a very good idea – who this childishly petulant adult works for. I could name that organisation but I think I’ll give Bluefrog a break. I mean, it can’t be easy working with this adult-child of far-too-frequent tantrums.
After a little while she paused in her scribbling and started to struggle out her zipped up top. Then she stopped her struggling, undid her seatbelt and tried again. She is more successful this time. We exchange a knowing glance, the guy opposite her and me.
I am stunned to see that the top part of her lycra cyclewear is a Beano (the children’s comic!) design with a larger-than-lifesized image of Dennis The Menace leering outwards in a slightly disturbing manner.
I stifled a smirk but not before I caught the eye of the poor unfortunate opposite her. He grinned back and we have formed, I believe, a conspiratorial partnership, the sole aim of which is to derive some joy from this little girl/adult woman.
I glanced outside for a while and when I tore my gaze away from the picturesque scenery that is the fucking awful hell of roadworks that Shepherd’s Bush offers the western quadrant of the United Kingdom’s capital city (nice work London), I noticed that she was alternating between making notes on the sheaf of papers with her red felt pen and highlighting text with… a bright pink highlighter.
Her short, manish hair and schoolteacher glasses are uncomfortably at odds with the view of Dennis The Menace leering out of her chest.
She paused in her literary work to retrieve an apple from the Rucksack of Doom. She bit at it and chewed in small, circular mastications that she somehow managed to make seem… mean.
A used paper tissue is retrieved; she wiped the excess apple juice from her lips and continued with her annotations.
As the journey progressed she appeared to become calmer. The pink highlighter and pink felt-tip pen did their work.
I am amazed that such a character (probably) works for an organisation that declares of itself: (we are) a group of people who come up with amazing ideas that result in a better world for all of us to live in.
The thought that perhaps it isn’t just charity that begins at home occurs.
I ache with longing to take a photograph of this 40-something woman to share with you, but there is no opportunity for such subterfuge.
Another day, perhaps?