The fella at the bus stop was wearing a black beanie hat pulled down over his ears and a worried frown. Did I think the bus would still stop for us? he asked me, pointing upwards to show me that Some Person Unknown had
twisted the bus stop sign out of position so that it would no longer be seen by an approaching bus driver. I said that, being as there were two of us waiting who could wave frantically and, if we deemed it necessary, jump up and down to illustrate the urgency
of our situation, I reckoned any self respecting driver would definitely stop for us. Besides, I elaborated, surely the driver would be well acquainted with the stops along his / her route?
Reassured, my companion suggested that the Dire Deed had probably been carried out by a late night reveller. Doubtless having had a few, I agreed, wisely. Mr Beanie Hat wondered how the Person Unknown had managed to reach the sign,
which was high up and well over our heads and I explained that whoever it was must have climbed on the garden wall of the house next to the bus stop. Mr Beanie Hat eyed me suspiciously as he clearly felt the fact that I worked this out so quickly indicated
a mis-spent youth. I was about to reassure him that I have only ever engaged in one act of vandalism in my whole life - but the bus appeared round the corner at that precise moment so we both set to waving madly and jumping up and down.
You are desperate to know, I am sure, about my single act of vandalism. I can’t even remember exactly how old I was - nine or ten, I reckon - when my Little Sister and I, for
no reason at all, ran amok over our mother’s newly planted vegetable patch, earning ourselves the only smack I ever remember receiving. Poor mum, she must have been sorely tested, indeed, to mete out such punishment against her better nature. Shocked
at the outcome of our act of vandalism, I trod a virtuous path thereafter; I can’t speak for my Little Sister but I suspect she, too, turned her back in vandalism for ever after.
I didn’t have too much time to contemplate this further as I had an appointment with the hygienist at the dentist’s. It is true that, imprisoned in a dentist’s chair, there is plenty of time for inner thoughts but
I was concentrating on trying to remember everything I had to buy and working out the best order in which to visit each shop in order to catch the bus for my return journey, if I were to make it home by 1.30 p.m. (the time I had, rather rashly, on Mr B’s
I struck up a conversation with an elderly woman, also waiting at the bus stop, when a young lass sped by us trying to catch the number 23 bus to
Crawley which was preparing to depart from the next bus stop along. We agreed, companionably, that had we tried to run for a bus we would almost certainly fall head over heels. My new friend was clearly a Kindred Spirit, I decided. This initial impression
appeared to be borne out when we spotted a workman abseiling down a building on the opposite side of the road - he was actually cleaning the windows, we belatedly realised. “You wouldn’t catch me abseiling down a building!” commented my new
Best Friend and I nodded my agreement and was about to add something on the lines of us being the sensible types when she surprised me: “I have done a parachute jump, mind you - I wouldn’t mind doing that again...”
Conversations at the bus stop. People aren’t always what they seem...