This following tale illustrates true events of one mornings journey, by bus, to work on the far side of town.
Imagine, if you dare, a dank gray misty English morning (about 7am). See, traveling through the mire, a green London Transport Double-Decker bus laden with sleepy eyed men clad in dull drab raincoats hacking and wheezing over their first ciggy of the day. Assorted variations on the bed head theme, not fashionable back then, tell the tale of a frenzied dash to the bus without a care for fashion or the whispered chatter of casual observers.
Each male sways to and fro in time with the buses motion barely missing a beat as damp newspapers are flicked open and closed with professional flare. Stale clothing and the frequent grunts of men coming across the scantily clad page three girls is choral. I weep at the memory of that tuneful union.
Sometimes the sound of the bus conductor’s ticket machine would resemble your own mind kicking into gear or draining haphazardly to the cigarette strewn floor. Confusing? trying tell which were your own thoughts and which were those of the ticket machine. . . was that me calculating the jump to light speed?
The bus slows to pick up passengers and all the men, in unison, lean forward as the bus comes to a stop. Wheeze, cough, splutter-hack, grunt, and flick the newspaper as they fall back in position.
Jauntily our conductor greets a “Good Morning” to his new passengers. Vaguely the dark and dank become aware of the sun inexplicably shining. Is that life being stirred into our sluggish limbs is ol’ Mr. Sol gazing our way? I look up and see the new passenger.
I should have known that something different had happened; the conductor never says good morning to me or any other of the grey men.
Brightly clad and smelling of something too delicious for words she moves down the bus and every eye follows her. She cannot be real; women do not exist in this grey place? No wonder the sun is shining, one of its flowers has just wandered off the beaten path.
A crowning glory of shiny hair; flowing and clean, she is not hacking nor is she wheezing? How is she possible? The vision takes a seat and sits just like one of us a human.
The scantily clad page three girls are forgotten as thoughts of angels mess with our delicate psyches. What is she doing here; women are not usually up at this time of day; at least not those in living technicolor? We, the dank, have never seen anything so sunny and lovely on this bus. . .ever. Is she an omen of happier days ahead? Will we see her again? What does her existence prove? She must be on a mission from another planet?
Four stops later her elegant pale arm reaches up pulls the chord to signal the bus to stop. We dark damp men watch her glide to the exit and she is not, apparently, aware we exist. She must be a god.
While she waits for the bus to stop she pushes her hand through her hair and there is an almost audible “OOOOOOHHH” from the damp. Mystical silver bells tinkle while one finger twirls at an errant curl.
She alights stands pool of sunlight as the bus pulls away. Left hunching over in the lamenting dark grey of our sunless world. The hacking coughs begin anew; we are back in our nasty reality again, newspapers flick; let the drooling commence over the scantly clad.
One of us sobs trying to cope with the mystery of what just happened.