“A pigeon has died on the top deck”: 21 realities of travelling on a London bus.

Written on the bus. It’s very meta.

I get the bus a lot. Often just so I can avoid people in suits. And one should never underestimate how fun it is to read or daydream or window shop whilst trying not to be sick.

Some of my fondest memories have occurred inside one: completing a crossword with a stranger, falling asleep with a shark hat on my head, and finishing The Hunger Games, for example.

Some less desirable occurrences include having a traffic cone thrown at me and fearing for my life. And the lives of cyclists.

So in honour of these glorious red boxes on wheels here are my ’21 realities of travelling on a London bus.’

1) “I remember when I used to enjoy life.”

2) You claim to take the bus because you prefer being overground and enjoy the nice view but it’s actually because you can eat a Greggs breakfast without commuters judging you.

3) You take a second to wonder if this is one of the bus routes where the seats have bed bugs. You sit down anyway. Gotta risk it for a biscuit.

4) You have mixed feelings towards prams.

5) By day, you think, in all seriousness, how likely is it that the man shouting at the back with a can of Blackthorn is going to mug you?

By night, you’re shouting at the back and stealing his cider.

6) “YAY. A seat at the front. I’m the driver!”


“Don’t you DARE sit next to me.”


“I can’t feel my legs.”

7) You feel very smug every time someone presses the button when the display clearly already says the bus is stopping. Stupid tourists.

Then the next time you have the world’s most important meeting and/or a hot date you press it five times just in case. Never trust the system.

8) “Oh, marvellous. There’s just that strange star on the display. We must all guess our stop by its major attraction, or, in most cases, its local chicken shop.”

9) You have considered, too many times to count, asking one of the nice school children to give you some fried chicken when you’re peckish but haven’t yet built up the courage.

10) By day, you’re fuming, “Oh brilliant. Rap music. Out loud.”

By night, you’re all, “Sod off, I am a GREAT singer and I WILL serenade you.”

11) Not that you’d admit it in public, but you find your truest sense of community on a night bus. (“Look at us all, in it together. I love life. And Macdonalds.”)

12) You feel very strongly that the commute would be a lot more interesting if dinosaurs still existed. And you wonder why that isn’t in any of the political party policies.

13) “Cyclists are such idiots.”

14) “Right. That’s it. Tomorrow I’m buying a bike.”

15) You’re desperate to know if it is socially acceptable to sit in the luggage hold over the age of five but that would mean asking the driver and you’re not allowed to talk to him.

16) “Sorry, I’m late. I was stuck on a bus at Trafalgar Square for seven thousand minutes.

And then there was a parade.

And then the bus went on diversion.

And then it broke down.”

17) The pleasure and satisfaction of watching some cocky disbeliever run up the stairs to the top deck, despite every other passenger’s assurances that it is, in fact, full, only to see them lope back down the stairs, ashamed and broken, hanging onto the handrail because it is now their only friend on the journey in the world.

18) You begin to wonder if London is actually pretty or if your entire life is a lie because all you see is fried chicken and pigeons.

19) “What’s that smell? Oh my god. There is an actual dead bird under my seat. I’m never sitting down again.”

20) “Yes, yes, I am pregnant. Three weeks. May I have this seat?”

21) When the Oyster zapper is broken and you get to ride FOR FREE and you love buses so much you physically hurt and decide you’ll now definitely get married on one and you kiss the driver and hug the seat, and all its bedbugs, and float on your shiny metal, strikingly red, uniquely rectangular cloud of dreams all the way to work paradise.

Just me?

I love buses. THE END.

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