Roll With It


This morning the bus is busier than normal.

I am sitting downstairs. Maybe in future I should move upstairs. Too many elderly people using the buses and fighting for seats. I help a lady of about seventy-five into a seat beside me.

We chat about how busy the buses are becoming.

One the pavement I see a man on a motorised invalid chair speed past.
‘He’s going faster than the bus’, I say.
‘Last week, I was nearly run over by one of those’, she says. ‘They drive them too fast, they should be made to take a driving test’.
‘I agree with you. I think some people buy them because they can’t be bothered to walk and they are cheaper to run than a car’.

‘Last week’ she begins, ‘The bus pulled up to a stop. There was a man in a  wheelchair waiting for the bus. The driver didn’t know how to let down the plate which allows wheelchairs onto the bus. He had never had to use it before’.

She laughed.

‘A few of the passengers had to show him how to do it. Well they got the plate down and the wheelchair man rode onto the bus. The driver pushed him into the space for wheelchairs and asked him where he was going?
The man in the wheelchair looked up and said, ‘I don’t know’.
‘You don’t know?, said the driver.
‘You’ll have to get off the bus’.

The Old Lady laughed again, ‘some of the passengers helped the driver get the wheelchair back onto the pavement and the bus drove off’.



I am on the top deck today. Better view of the ship which ran aground a few months ago in a Force Ten. It should never have set sail. Maybe it was a management ploy to scuttle the ship and claim on the insurance.

The bus has reached the middle of the town. The promenade is busy. More tourists arriving by the week to witness the final rumblings of a once great seaside town. Now it is more like Saigon the week the Americans retreated.

I look down on the pavement. This town is a favourite spot for hen parties and stag nights. The current trend is to attend these nights out in fancy dress. The pavement is packed with young and not so young people. Very few of them are dressed in ‘normal’ clothes. It looks like a casting call for Warner Bros or a Mel Brooks film. Roman Soldier rub shoulders and share the pavement with Nuns, Knights, Tarts, Young Women dressed as School Girls, Boys as sixth form drop outs, Space Men. Some  clutch large dragons and rubber sharks which they have won on stalls.

A Paddington Bear looks down from a stall, “we’re not in South America now, Toto”.

Myself and two other people are riding on the top deck today. They are at the front of the bus. I am in ‘my seat’ at the back of the bus. Best place to be in case Al Qaeda attack the bus. If you are at the back it gives you a few seconds of thinking time before you decide whether to take on the terrorists or surrender. ‘Blackpool 93, come in Blackpool 93’.

The bus stops. The clatter of light footsteps up the stairs.
A school girl pops her head up and looks around. She steps onto the top deck. She walks down the middle of the bus in her mini skirt and sits down next to me.

She could have sat anywhere on the bus. It is empty bar the two at the front. Why has she come all the way back here? Maybe she thinks this is ‘her seat’ not ‘my seat’. Maybe she has been traveling this route since she was eight and is not prepared to give way. Then I wonder if a journalist or photographer is going to get on the bus two stops further on and see whether I have said anything to her. No, I think not. A tabloid paper wouldn’t sink that low to entrap someone, would they? They are only interested in the truth? Don’t we all love the paparazzi and the good they do for society?

Mini Skirt plugs into her iPod.

After a couple of miles she gets off.
Must have been be a show of independence, confidence and power.


A young boy gets on the bus. He is smartly dressed: polo shirt, clean jeans, trainers. Good looking, age sixteen, fifteen? You would cast him in a film. He looks interesting. Could be a young runner in ‘Chariots of Fire’, a street kid in ‘Quadraphrenia’ or someone who beats up Harry Potter.

One stop later a young girl boards the bus. Age, fourteen, fifteen? She carries a bag with the name of a dance school. She is dressed in cream coloured track suit. She looks more than capable of hitting the Martha Graham steps when she enters the class. Does she look like a Dame Margot? No. Darcy Bushell? Yes.

Brad is not slow to take an interest in her.

She is sat on the opposite side of the bus to Brad and a few seats back. As she walked past him to get to her seat it was obviously love at first sight for him. He can’t resist turning round to glance at her. He repeats this manoeuver several times until Dame Margo has had enough of it. She gets up from her seat and moves back down the bus and sits three seats behind him. Poor Brad. She doesn’t like him.

A few stops down the route Brad gets off the bus. I look down to see if he will glance up at her as the bus pulls away. He does. She doesn’t look down. Ah well, you win some, you lose some.


A few miles down the road and he starts. The man mid thirties or early forties next to me hitting himself repeatedly on the legs. He stops. I thought he must have been beating off a fly which was getting on his nerves. No. A few stops on he starts to beat himself up again. I decide this is a real life character from Taxi Driver and get off at the next stop.



I get on the bus to return home, step upstairs. Who should be in what I now regard as ‘my seat’ but the ‘Brad Pitt’ boy. I have to sit in the middle of the bus. Only he and I occupy the top deck.

Three bus stops later and the clatter of young girls coming up the stairs. Not any girls, street fighting girls. They see Brad on the back seat and head straight toward him. One of them has smuggled a can of larger onto the bus. As she passes by me she pulls the can from under her coat. They plonk themselves close to Brad.

This will be interesting. How we will Brad cope with three?

There is no hesitation from the girls, not a moment is wasted with reading body language or assessing the situation.
They are at him faster than a CIA agent at Guantanamo.

‘What’s your name?’
‘Where do you live?’

He mentions an area of the town. Not confident enough or maybe too street wise not to give them his complete home address.

More questions are fired at him. The street fighters all speak at the same time. I cannot catch the dialogue now. It is too fast and over lapping, Robert Altman lives.

Brad mumbles to them.

One of the girls says.
‘I know a Jack’.
The two other girls laugh and say to their friend,
‘You know a Jack?
Everyone must know a Jack!’

More rapid questions which I can’t follow. They are being fired at him as if from a machine gun.

Brad gets up to leave the bus.
He looks relieved to be out of the firing line.

As he walks past the girls one of them shouts.

‘Nice arse too!’

Today I am sitting on the opposite side to the exit doors so I cannot see if he glanced up at them as the bus pulled away? I suspect not. Maybe when he gets home he will replay the scene and think of many comic quips he could have used if only he had been better prepared. Or maybe two girls less. But then a girl by herself, even a street fighting one, would have said nothing.

Poor Brad, the cards seem stacked against him.

The street fighter girls become quiet. Their prey has slipped away. Nothing to do now but look out of the window at a view they have seen a hundred times before.

Three miles down the road and who should get onto the bus but none other than the Mini Skirt schoolgirl. My God, I think this is developing into a TV series.
She is with a friend. They sit in the middle of the bus opposite me. If we were all in a movie I would probably say, ‘Hi. You were on the bus the other day’. But I say nothing. We are in a land and an era where all males over thirty five are considered sex offenders.

The street fighters perk up. Breaking silence as they have someone new to show off their gadgets too. Suddenly music is blaring from the back of the bus. Loud, way too loud.  I don’t mind. It’s a good four by four rock track with a middle eight.

Mini Skirt Girl and her friend carry on and don’t rise to the musical intrusion of the street fighters.

Now I think I’m in Cameron Crowe’s ‘Almost Famous’. If it was Elton John’s, “Tiny Dancer” blasting out on the gadget I wonder if we would all join in on the chorus?

One stop down. The music is turned off. The street Fighters get off the bus.

Mini Skirt and her friend now move to the back seat. They sit in ‘My seat’ which is sometimes ‘Brad’s seat’.

The bus passes the local War Memorial. It is being given a make over for England’s Veterans’ Day.
I hear Mini Skirt’s friend ask.
‘How high is the platform going to be which we sing on?’
Mini Skirt must indicate with a hand movement how high the platform will be raised. They discuss which songs they will sing for the Veterans’. Obviously it will be a school concert.

Suddenly they go in to a impromptu rehearsal. After the street Fighters music I now get a a piece for two voices. Mozart, Handel? I don’t recognise the song. It could be Giovanni Palestrina.
June 2008 – Bus numbers: 1, 11 and 7.