Thursday, 22 March 2012


Today I realised that spring is well and truly here. Why? Well, it was the first day this year that I looked at my coat pegs heaving with woollies and thought, mmm, time to put them away and replace them with my light-weight jackets and silky scarves.

Yet, despite the optimism that the warmer months usually inspire, I noticed a cloud hanging over London today. I went on Twitter, where people were bemoaning feeling out of control of their lives, groaning about having to deal with difficult people and apparently feeling pretty shitty about life in general. Why is everybody so blue? I wondered. But then I thought back over my day. It had been long and hard, yes. But the real killer? The bus journey home.

Yes, I know, I often sing the praises of buses and prefer them over the tube any day (and not just because they are cheaper, although, being a tight arse, that is a real plus). But, let’s face it, at the end of the day they are the lesser of two evils. And, when they want to be, they can be pretty darn devilish.

Take last week, if you will. On Tuesday, after a swift pint, I attempted to catch the bus home. It was seven o’clock, so the worst of the evening’s rush hour had been and gone. The only problem was that at the exact moment I decided to mount the 91, a group of protesting cyclists decided to over-take us – and proceeded to pedal up York Way at a snail’s pace. Yes, okay, so they wanted to assert their rights as road users and celebrate the life of those cyclists who have picked fights with bigger vehicles and come off decidedly worse, but - seriously? At the end of the day, I wanted to go home. And by getting in my way, they weren’t warming me to their cause.

Cyclists, don’t curse me yet. You aren’t the only ones who make my journey on the average double-decker more than a little tedious. There are the bus drivers who watch you as you run towards their gigantic red beast, handbag flapping at your hip and Tesco carrier bag tangling around your legs – only to pull off when you get within five metres of them. Or those who, despite traffic grinding to a standstill, refuse to open the doors until you are at the next bus-stop – even though nothing is moving within a mile radius. And yes, both these scenarios happened to me last week, too.

Okay, so you could argue that these bus drivers are just doing their job. They are playing by the rules, and there is no room for manoeuvre (quite literally). But then you have the bus drivers who blatantly lie to you.

“There’s an empty bus just behind me,” I was advised as I, along with a gaggle of commuters desperate to get to their desks and first coffee of the day, tried to squeeze through the door on Wednesday. I made a fatal mistake. I paused, and looked up the road to see if he was telling the truth. Needless to say, he wasn’t – but the doors had already slammed in my face as the driver hurriedly thrust into first gear and pulled away. Apparently, in his world, “just behind me” means “about ten minutes away – if you’re lucky.” Thanks, mate, just what a girl needs at eight in the morning.

I guess the moral of the story is, that no matter how sunny it is, how well paid you are or how yummy your lunch was, there is always something in this city to put a dampener on your mood. But, you know what? I will not be beaten. Despite the trials and tribulation of TFL, I will be unbreakable. Or rather, if I am broken, it will not be my something as trivial as London’s arthritic public transport.

So, my advice to those travelling by bus? Pack light, take a good (paperback) book with you, and grin and bear it. And, no matter how painful it gets, don’t let the bastards grind you down...

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