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On the Buses

Anyone who thinks the English are a reserved people could seriously use a trip on a London double decker south of the river. Just a couple of such experiences will reveal that there's no problem getting the English to open up; indeed, one might well find oneself wishing there was.

It all started when a lady and her boys got on the bus. They were very into their trip to the farm with Mum, and certainly didn't want that ruined by doing anything she told them. Both were naughty, both got told off and threatened with all sorts of treats being taken away, and both whined and disobeyed generally. Personally, I found them a bit pleased with themselves but sooner that problem than the opposite, so I paid no attention. Like a fool, I looked around at the point where young Maximilian (never was a child more aptly named http://www.gems6-2.com/images/max_wild-jpg.gif) stood on the bus seat and fell to the floor as the bus stopped, and Mama carried on scolding and threatening. A woman caught my eye, and said loudly, 'Spoilt! That's their trouble!' I stared back at the window, desperate to keep out of it. 'I blame the mother!' said the commentator, to the bus at large. 'If you say you're going to do something, you have to do it, or they'll never take you seriously!'

'That's right!' Said a bloke nearby, his mate nodding staunchly. 'If they don't think you mean it, they'll take the mickey!' By now the bus had arrived at the farm, and poor Mama got off, boys racing ahead of her. 'You've both been appalling...' she shouted after them, wheezing as she ran to catch up.

At her departure, the entire bus erupted into a group analysis of her terrible parenting. This was stopped only by some random woman squealing, 'Oooh! Those men are fighting!' This had nothing to do with the bad little boys. No, the car in front of the bus had stopped, and in front of that car, another car had stopped and a man had got out.

'He crunched his car!' Someone yelled. I had no idea who had done what to whom. Then the man who had got out suddenly jumped back in his car again and took off. The driver of the car directly in front of us started up, swerving around the car in front of him and braking to a horizontal halt across the lane, at which point the car that was once in front of him and now behind him roared around him on a bottom left to top right diagonal and raced away in front, though not for long. The injured party was beside him almost instantly and they both drove neck and neck, our little bus behind them, people yelling at the driver to go faster so everyone could see what would happen next. It's not as though it's a dual carriageway or anything. It has two lanes, one for going, one for coming back. A few filthy looks got thrown my way when I elected to get off. 'What is this, a full moon?' I told them, 'I'm not going to Bexleyheath for your entertainment! This is my stop!' Last thing I knew, the bus was trundling along excitedly after the two racers, one of the passengers offering odds.

I keep hoping it's something in the water. Because if that's the case, maybe we can fix it...

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