Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Character

I'm on my way home on the W15 when the 'I Don't Like You' lady gets on the bus. The seat next to me is empty & I sigh inside. The 'I Don't Like You' lady is in her sixties, somewhat bent over, wearing an incongruous fluffy pink hat and fluffy pink scarf and gloves. She sits down next to me and is silent for a moment, I think maybe she's not too bad. But then...

"I don't like you! I don't like people! Nobody talk to me! I don't want to talk to you!' explodes out of her.

People look around, astonished. Some people don't, they've heard it before. She nudges me with her elbow a couple of times, to make her point, and tries to whack the poor boy sitting across the aisle from her a few times.

After a while she quietens down, but then when new passengers get on the bus, she has to make her point again. One quite tall, heavily built man gets a special treatment "I HATE THAT MAN! I HATE HIM!'
A dad holding the hand of his cute little 2 year old, all big eyes and hair in bunches, the vision of sweetness and innocence, gets on the bus. "I don't like you, and I especially don't like you." she says, pointing at the two year old.

People start to snigger. Eventually it comes to her stop and she gets off, not before reminding the bus driver that she doesn't like him.

Everybody on the bus starts smiling and laughing and talking about her. 'I missed my stop - I couldn't get off in case she hit me' says a girl sitting near her.

The atmosphere on the bus is suddenly more friendly than usual, people are talking and laughing with each other. I begin to wonder whether the 'I don't like you' lady isn't just a random nut, but actually some kind of clever Situationist comedian or social experimenter in disguise.

9 comments:

  1. Well everyone seems to like her, at least.

    There used to be a man in a trench coat who hung around on Streatham Hill who would stop me to ask incredibly convoluted grammatical questions. I just gave him an answer, any answer, and he seemed happy and thanked me. I remember watching him pick another victim who didn't know how to respond, and the trench coat man followed him down the road bellowing "But you must know! You must! It's really important."

    And there was a middle-aged African-Caribbean man who used to get on the Northern Line and whistle 'Don't Fence Me In' very loudly, pausing occasionally to shout "Is this the England of St George?" and then snort like a horse.

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  2. The legendary #73, last of the old Routemasters, back to Stoke Newington late one Friday night a few years back. Trampy looking old bloke gets on with a battered guitar - everybody looks horrified, he's going to HASSLE us all for money!

    Bothers nobody, sits down by himself. After a while he starts twiddling with his guitar, and then does a brilliant, gravelly voiced rendition of Sunny Afternoon. When he's finished, the entire bus erupts into cheers and applause. He slings his guitar over his shoulder, saunters off the bus without saying a word to anybody, smiling to himself.

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  3. That sounds like the inside of my head but I manage to keep it inside. Or at least I think I do. Don't I?

    I wouldn't wear pink fluffy stuff though.

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  4. There used to be a man in Norwich who stood at traffic lights wearing orange washing-up gloves, smiling and waving at people. He was known as Marigold and was a popular figure. Then he vanished and nothing was heard of him for a couple of years. Then there was a letter in the paper from someone wondering if Marigold had died, and some follow-up reminiscences. But after that, a member of his family wrote, saying that, after treatment in a mental hospital, he was well again and being looked after, and that calling him Marigold was depersonalising him and making fun of the mentally ill. We all felt rather awful. It was meant affectionately, not to patronise.

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  5. There used to be an old lady who would lie down in the road in Garboldisham and when your car skidded to a halt and you raced round to see what the matter was she had disappeared.

    Then you looked back at your car and there she was sitting in the passenger seat waiting for a lift to Thetford.

    I only got caught once.

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  6. I love the grammar man, Tim. Well it is important, isn't it? The Northern Line is particularly rich in eccentrics.

    Superb, LC, and what a great choice of song.

    GSE, I think there is a little bit of 'I don't like you' lady in all of us. Her pink hat was somehow reassuring - I couldn't picture going into a shop and buying it, so clearly someone had bought it for her, which means she is being looked after by somebody.

    Z, I went to college in Norwich and remember Marigold well, directing the traffic on the roundabout in his rubber gloves. I think his family was being a bit over-sensitive as it was really a term of affection. Glad to hear he's alive and well.

    Rog, haha! You have to admire her enterprise. I think I might try it, I'm fed up with public transport.

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  7. Annie, I'm so pleased you remember Marigold - absolutely, it was meant affectionately and his cheerfulness lifted everyone's spirits. We knew he had mental health problems, but at least he was happy and it did him no harm.

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  8. Slaminsky - remember the shouty, bangy man in the Sue Ryder chazza shop in Finchley and how scared we were but our love of second hand clothes overcame that fear?

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  9. Em - yes! I knew she reminded me of someone! Shouty bangy man and 'I don't like you' lady would have been a match made in heaven.

    I don't know, these youngsters with their nice easy 'vintage' shops, they don't they are born... Nowhere is as good as that Sue Ryder shop.

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