Aah, yes, public transport. My favourite topic to talk about in Manchester, always worth a good rant. In this case however, it’s less of a rant and more of an astonished and incredulous account of the most bizarre bus adventure I have had in the two years living in this city. It was so bizarre, I even created a new “Bizarre” category for it.*
And it came to pass in those days that a festival was taking place on the green pastures of Platt Field’s park, and the lone traveller (that’s me! Hello!) embarked on a long and eventful journey from Southern Suburbia into the heart of the Sacred City…
Up until Fallowfield, people getting on the bus were the usual Saturday night crowd, i.e. hordes of loud and drunk students. We were joined by a group of families who had just come from the Lacrosse tournament where Canada had been beaten by the US. Due to unforeseen circumstances (“What do you mean? Thousands of people at a festival at Platt Field’s could cause a traffic chaos? Naahhh…”) the bus got stuck at a traffic light just at the far end of the park. And this is where it all started…
“Mate, I’m not being funny, but you’ve got the biggest car in the road. Just drive!” was the first advice the slightly intoxicated gentleman in one of the front seats gave the bus driver, only seconds before the young men in the car next to us started blowing a vuvuzela. The gentleman on the bus decided to answer this call for his attention by climbing on the bus seat, pulling down his trousers and exposing his pale backside to our neighbours, gently rubbing it on the bus windows. The bus driver, surrendering himself to the fate of having to drive the Wilmslow Road route on a Saturday night, simply acknowledged this stunt with a gentle laugh, silently awaiting the end of his shift. As we had been stuck at the traffic light for almost ten minutes, the gentleman, now wearing his trousers in the right place and obviously having filled his bladder with several pints of liquids before the bus journey, asked the bus driver if he could open the doors for him to jump out and relieve himself in the wild.
On returning to the bus, he engaged in a conversation with the girls on the seats behind him (one of whom was wearing slippers because “it hurt. And… it hurt!”), only to rise again after a few minutes and announce:“Ladies and gentlemen! It’s Melissa’s birthday today! While we’re stuck on the bus, we might as well sing happy birthday for her!”, which lead to the entire bus, first cautiously, then enthusiastically singing a birthday song for our fellow traveller.
10 minutes and 10 metres later, the bus opened the door for another wee break. This time however, the gentlemen returning to the bus and running upstairs to the top deck did not resemble the two travellers that had been with us all night. “Oh GREAT we’re getting burgled on the bus because that guy had to go for a wee!” was my first thought. Turned out that, as the two chaps were kind enough to explain on exiting the bus, the drunk students on the top deck had been “shouting abuse” at them and they wanted to give them a slap on the wrist – fortunately, only figuratively. The worried bus driver was kind enough to ask the gentlemen who were returning from their toilet trip to check upstairs if “everything was ok up there”. They descended from the top deck with an “everything ok” and two cans of beer in their hands, which they happily opened and consumed straight away.
By the time we had passed the traffic jam on the infamous curry mile, everyone on the bus was either drunk and engaging in lively conversation / singing / further drinking, or mildly shocked and silently shaking their heads.
As we approached the final bus stop, a group of students coming downstairs quickly identified the families in the back as supporters of the Canadian Lacrosse team, which lead one of them to a weak attempt at consoling the Canadians for their loss by praising their magnificent country. And so the Finglands 41 service pulled into Piccadilly Gardens, accompanied by dozens of students singing the Canadian national anthem. The bus stopped. The doors opened. It was all over.
* Things like that get me very excited sometimes. The excitement lasts for about 7 seconds until I realise that I’m a sad, sad geek.