Mar 08 2008
I was in great form, cloud nine, fucking jubilant in fact. It’s Friday, I got out of work (every so slightly) early, and then….I got on the Limerick bus from Busárus.
I can’t blame CIE for my being stuck at the back of the queue and therefore getting the second last seat on the bus. Equally, I can’t blame CIE for the man I got stuck sitting beside, a man endowed with Charlie Landsborough‘s looks and the temperament of Gorgon Ramsey. Couple him with the loud chatty woman in front of him and you have a recipe for disaster.
Sidenote – why did I not sit in the other available seat? I could smell that guy from four rows away. People were standing and that seat was still vacant.
The entertainment begins when her phone rings….loudly….a number of times….before she finally answers it. At this stage Charlie is already irritated. He’s mumbling (not very quietly) things about ‘bloody women’, ‘fucking mobiles’ and ‘cupid hunt’ (I may have misheard). When Chatty finally answers, it’s clear Charlie would prefer to still be listening to her ringtone. To say she was loud would be a gross understatement.
Let me paint you a picture: Chatty is in the front leftmost seat of the bus, Charlie and I are directly behind her. At the very far back of the bus on the right hand side, there’s a young couple, clearly in love, longingly looking into each others eyes. Although they’ve only been together for a short time, they have promised eternal devotion to each other. For them, there is no one else in the world; for them, there is only the eyes of the other; for them, there is no bus. And yet, even they were startled back to reality by the noise of this woman’s voice.
“Hello! Hello! Hello, can you hear me? Hello? Who’s this? I can’t hear you! Hello? I can’t…..oh, hello Margaret, how are you? What? What? WHAT? Oh, yeah, I missed a few calls and text things. I don’t know how to work it so I just let it ring. WHAT? No, no, Michael’s dead! Sure, he’s gone before Christmas. I know it’s terrible! Young? No, not at all, he was older than me. Oh, MICHAEL!! He’s fine! Has his Leaving this Summer. Listen Margaret, I’m on the bus, so I’ll let you go. What? WHAT? Yeah, Limerick! We’re just pulling out of Busárus now. What? Ah, he’s not is it? Well, send him my love. What? I know, I know!”
This went on….and on…..and on….until Charlie snapped. Again note, we’re still in Dublin city centre on the start of a three and a half hour journey! He stood, or at least he attempted to stand. It was then I noted he probably had a few drinks on him, although he didn’t smell like a brewery, so I didn’t mind too much. I wish I had a few! He stood up and shouted at Chatty to “quiet down and stop annoying everyone”. She promptly lowered her vocal volume and soonafter finished her call to Margaret. I think much of the bus saw him as a hero – I just saw a scary person.
The bus was quiet for a while (very quiet) and a pleasing side effect of his drinking set in. He nodded off to sleep. I relaxed, I listened to what was going on around me and I took out my phone to began this blog.
A guy on his phone close to me says, “…the blood, unless it’s in very close proximity won’t have any effect”. An odd comment! I think it has something to do with farming and cows.
According to Matt Cooper on Today FM, Gerry Ryan and his wife have separated. And that was the moment Chatty got going again. Apparently, she is friends with the woman sitting beside her, who has so far been silent. Seemingly, the news of Gerry and Moira’s separation was of dire consequence to everyone’s lives. Well, so Chatty believes. Her initial volume returns briefly, but she quickly realises and lowers it down. Apart from a mumbled ‘fuck sake’, Charlie remains reasonably stoic.
Apart from Cooper on the radio, things remain quiet for a while.
The bus is unpleasant. It’s too warm, it’s stuffy, the coughing from behind me is giving me the shivers and the broken light above me is beginning to piss me off. It’s neither fully on nor completely off. It’s in some kind of limbo state. If light bulbs walk towards the light as they expire, this one was definitely resisting. This one was clinging to life by a thread. Perhaps it has unfinished business back home – a wife, kids to look after. As I sit here feeling sympathy for the dying light, rather than pissed off, I realise I’ve got slightly mad. iPod time, methinks!
We’ve stopped to take on more people, onto the already overfilled bus. The last guy to get on was black. And the bus really had reached it’s limit. The painful struggle and fear on the face of the busdriver, as he told Mr Black that the bus was full was a treat to watch. I know Mr Busdriver isn’t racist, Mr Busdriver knows he isn’t racist, Mr Black knows that Mr Busdriver is not racist, but the fear of what may be perceived was scribbled all over his face. He got up from his seat and searched down the bus, desperately seeking a seat for Mr Black. He soon returned and I really had to hold back the laughter as Mr Busdriver innocently delivered this line: “You’ll have to sit at the back of the bus!”.
Charlie started mumbling again: “I can’t see myself making it, I can’t see myself making it”. Now, the first thing I thought this meant was that he was about to snap and kill someone – me perhaps. But then I relaxed when I figured he probably just needed to pee. The panic returned again, when I thought of him relieving himself on the seat next to me. I swear I can feel the seat getting wet.
Two hours on the bus now. It just dawned on me I haven’t a clue where I’m getting off. Mr Busdriver says he’ll let me know when we get to Birdhill. He seems trustworthy, but fingers crossed.
We’re at Portlaoise (I’m told it’s an hour from Birdhill) and Charlie is getting off. I’m tentative about moving in to the window seat. I doubt he’s peed, I really doubt it, but I don’t want to check. Alright, alright, people are getting on.
Well, it’s dry! It’s warm! It’s a window seat! Things are looking up. I miss the train. Well, why didn’t you get the damn train? It’s so expensive, that’s why! Is it any wonder people don’t use public transport. The only service halfway comfortable costs a mint (€28.50) and the cheap option (I paid €10 single journey) feels like I’m living the final moments of a not-yet-dead hamster, whose owner is burying it in a shoebox in the back garden on a sunny Summer’s day. Hope comes in the form of the neighbour’s doberman.
Oh God, hope is fading. The nice quiet, not smelly woman who boarded at Portlaoise and sat beside me, is travel sick. While she hasn’t vomitted yet, she’s close to it.
There she goes!
Well, at least she had a sick bag with her. That’s thoughtful! It smells awful in here now. The aircon is on full, so instead of roasting to death, I’m going to freeze. Do they have hamsters in the Arctics? Is there such a thing as a Snow Hamster?
If anyone manages to read this far down, thanks for hearing my moans. I guess, it’s not that bad. I’m nearly there and the smell is subsiding (or I’m just becoming accustomed to it). I should have gotten the train. I know this. I could stretch out. I could use the toilet. I could have my book out on the table in front of me. I could cut and hour off my journey time. I could get a beer or two. Mmm beer!
Anyone want to know why I’m making this trip? It’s my twin sisters’ confirmation tomorrow. It’s great getting down to celebrate (is celebrate the right word? I guess so) with them. So, wish me luck for a good weekend. I’ll talk to you all on Monday.
I’m getting the train next time!
Final Note: As Chatty alighted, she announced in her very loud voice to Mr Busdriver –
“Thanks very much! I had a lovely ride!”
The whole front of the bus fell into hysterical laughter. It’s been a long journey, I think we all needed a good giggle.