171. 6.30pm. Top deck, front right.
A man sat next to me. He was wearing a slightly crumpled suit, and carried a black briefcase. He looked like someone who had had a tough day, and I considered having a conversation with him, but before I could act he pulled out his mobile phone. He rang a number and started speaking. I quickly gathered that he was speaking to his wife.
‘Hi darling… Yes, it was fine. I think they asked me a sympathy question to be honest, you know, the one about…’
An interview maybe? Something in academia?
‘Well, it’s fine, I didn’t call to talk about it anyway… Oh, I’m sorry… Well you could light one of your smelly candles, that should help… No, I didn’t mean it like that… I’m at St George’s Circus now so I shouldn’t be long…’
It didn’t sound like the wife was focussing on the man’s day particularly.
‘Yes, I’m sure you’re right darling… Yes, whatever you think is best… Yes, yes… Look, I’m at Elephant now so I won’t be long…’
What a stilted conversation. I felt uneasy. Nevertheless, this was my chance. I was going to turn to him and ask if he’d had a difficult day. I was poised. He looked like he was about to close the conversation.
‘I’m sure you’re right darling. Well, alright then, see you in a bit.’
I was mid-turn when he pressed ‘End call’ on his phone and muttered, ‘Bitch.’
What is it about buses that allow a person to reveal the horrors of their relationships to strangers sitting less than five centimetres away from them? I’m still shuddering.