For the first time in many years, I spent most of yesterday on a bus, or to be precise, several buses. My second trip to London turned out to be under the rules of a deck of playing cards, to be spent travelling the city's bus network (although the dice was unwilling to secede its role as I threw 3 threes in a row which was last week's choice, before eventually throwing a five, which denoted the cards!) The following rules applied:
- Use the cards to ascertain which direction to take - red card for E or W, black card for N or S
- Get on the first bus that comes along
- Select a card from the pack
- Disembark after the number of stops indicated by the card
- Walk about for a minimum of 30 minutes or until I find another bus
- Repeat the process - if a red card is selected, continue in the same direction, if a black card is selected cross the road and travel in the opposite direction
- If a joker is selected, travel to the end of the route
The cards selected to go east along Marylebone Road, and I eventually got out on Pentonville Road and wandered into Islington. Chance tactics work in strange ways - with the whole city of London to explore, chance was determined to send me to places I was familiar with - this seemed to be the pattern for the whole day. I decided to refrain from consulting my A-Z to give myself more of a chance to wander into unfamilar territory. Further buses took me back into the city to Finsbury Square, and then back out again into the farther reaches of Hackney.
I hadn't been on a London bus for quite some time and was surprised to see that each stop is now announced by an illuminated board accompanied by the refined tones of a female announcer....just as well, as the view out of the window was obscured for the most part by a film of condensation and raindrops, creating that special atmosphere of sheltered intimacy that you only get on the top deck of a bus but preventing you from seeing where you actually are. There is something very egalitarian about bus travel - once on board all passengers are part of a band of travelling humanity which has equal rights - no first class carriages or VIP lounges here, though those that choose the top deck as I always do, are members of that club that shares an elevated view of the world!
Throughout the day my view of London seems to have been filtered by a succession of windows or screens of one sort or another.....
God was obviously not prepared to take a back seat this time either. Everywhere I went, I found images relating to his importance in people's lives, probably not surprising considering the poverty and disadvantage endemic in most of the areas I visited. I wonder if his presence would be quite so visible in the more affluent suburbs?