Top Deck

A long day in Middlesex recording a radio programme about kids going mental on the top decks of buses after school. If you’ve never bimbled round Greenford on a bus full of teenagers kissing their teeth at you any time you try to ask them a question, you’ve never lived. One of the boys, aged 14 or so refused to answer my questions about the time he was stabbed on the bus, saying ‘Man an’ man don’t combine, see what I’m saying, blood?’ Mind you, I suppose I had invited him to come and talk by patting the empty bus  seat next to me.

I had to leave home at 6am  in utter darkness to get to Leominster station to catch the train to London. Icy roads, cold station, sodium lights whose  focus was softened by freezing fog on the platform. No hint of dawn until the train was coming up to Abergavenny. But was that night, or did it count as morning? A dozen or so people were on the platform, starting their commute to work.

Coming back, I just missed the connection from Newport up to Leominster, so I had to wait at Newport station for a chilly hour. If you are a native Welsh speaker who needs to change trains at Newport, the fact that the announcement in Welsh comes before the announcement in English must be most gratifying, though even a native might struggle to work out where Henffordd and Cair might be.

It was an easy wait, though, as I was reading Alberto Manguel’s collection of  essays, ‘The Library at Night’. Proper!

Home just after 11; realised on the drive back from Leominster that I don’t know where the switch is in my car for the foglights,  if indeed I have any.

2 Responses

  1. You patted a vacant seat next to you on the bus in order to invite an agressive teen to join you? Ian? You did that? That’s just a few steps away from active grooming! Ah well, at least you survived to tell the tale.

  1. March 16, 2014

    […] Sometimes it’s not so much your own curiosity and nosiness that leads you into other lives. Instead it’s the sheer volume that people emit. In the past, when I travelled on buses a bit more than I do now I found young people tended to head to the back seats of the top deck, from where one would phone a friend, put them on loudspeaker and talk to them with a volume that turned their conversation into a kind of theatre. Because it tends to be the young who are given to inviting people into their world in this way, such moments are golden opportunities to brush up on the latest street slang. In 2008 I was introduced to the expression ‘chat shit’ by this small black guy, about 15, who shouted the phrase into his mobile phone thirty times in three minutes, to a girl whose number he seemed to have attained only recently. Afterwards I heard the phrase ‘chat shit’ on every top deck I got on to, for the next three months. Ian Marchant talked of the occasion he was on the top deck of a Greenford bus, making a radio progra… […]

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