On the buses...
Posted on 30 Aug 2019

Buses send a shiver down my spine. Don’t get me wrong, this is not some sort of transport snobbery. Without an underground train system, shoving a load of people into a tin box on wheels is really the only way forward - please note the subtle driving-forwards joke there. Thank you. 


And when it comes down to it, my entire love life was, for many years, totally dependent on Birmingham’s night buses. I well remember wondering which bus stop to stand at - because there were definitely two of them -  and then collapsing heavily to the floor because I chose to grab hold of the wrong one to steady my drunken legs. And still pulling because the bus was an hour late and there was nothing left to do but snog. Brilliant.

No, my horror of buses is for a much scarier reason. It started when I found myself following a bus, in heavy traffic, which had Pauline Quirk’s face on the back of it. I couldn’t get round the bus; I couldn’t find any other vehicle to come between us; I couldn’t think of a single short cut. I was stuck with Pauline Quirk smirking at me for 20 exceedingly long and torturous minutes. Was Birds Of A Feather not punishment enough for the wrongdoings of humankind? Why was her face on that bus?!!??


Our mode of communication in recent decades has transformed massively. Social media means that communication is instantaneous. Rather than waiting for tomorrow’s newspaper or the 10 o’clock news, we get news about stuff before the stuff has even finished happening. It’s incredible the developments in technology that have made this possible. Of course, the other way that communication has developed is not so technological - we have taken to painting things on buses. 

So, there we have it. Pauline Quirk on a bus. More amusingly, there is an image doing the rounds of a photo of a woman on the back of a bus with ‘ride me all day for £3’ written alongside her. Bargain. Even if it were Pauline Quirk, you’d have to admit that’s good value.


But the main bus message I have in my mind is the one on the Brexit bus. That hideous bus. The bright red bus that said ‘we give the EU £350million a week. Let’s give it to the NHS instead’ or some such utter nonsense. And people believed it. That message had a lot to do with how the vote swung away from logical thinking and towards the bedlam of Brexit. 

It wasn’t a normal tatty bus either - not one of those where you’re not sure if the windows are etched or just filthy. Not one of those that smells of so many gross things you can’t even start to list them. Not one of those buses with seats upholstered in second-hand chewing gum. No, it was a reassuringly flash bus. One of those that’s probably the equivalent of a few nurses’ salaries.


But BusMare continues. Apparently, Norwich has a Pride. Yay, Norwich! And someone had the bright idea of using the event as a means of brightening up buses with a rainbow, in support of all the lovely Norfolk gays. Genius. But then some grouchy driver refused to drive the bus because the rainbow-adorned vehicle would be promoting homosexuality. Come on, I know the power of the bus slogan is great, I know we all fell for that Buses 4 Brexit thing… but a rainbow making us gay? I don’t think so. Next you’ll be telling me that Pauline Quirk on a bus had me watching ye olde episodes of Birds Of A Feather. It didn’t. Honest. Well, maybe just one episode. I’m sorry, I’m weak. And the power of the bus is strong…

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