Thursday, February 14, 2008

The social lottery of Glasgow buses

Getting on a bus in Glasgow is like playing the lottery of social intercourse. Sometimes, you sit beside a person of questionable personal hygiene, who then asks if he / she met you on holiday. (No, of course, is the answer). I hit the metaphorical bonus ball yesterday when I helped a partially-sighted, 93 year old man on to the bus and we sat beside each other.

He was all cheery about the weather - thank goodness for weather as an opening topic to almost all conversations with strangers. He said it reminded him of the days when he got 'a penny fair' on the tram, and he and his wife went to the bluebell woods (now a housing estate) past Anniesland. He had such light in his eyes, I thought he'd be one these guys who had a long marriage. When he told me he'd been with his wife for 70 years (since age 23) and then that she died 2 years ago (aged 88), I got a big lump in my throat.

He told me he had fought in WW2 and he goes swimming every morning and has a wee dram at nights ('just the one, mind'). His 'children' are in their 60's now (unfathomable to me) and he doesn't like to impose on them. He told his son he would go 'chasing the birds' at the bowling club socials and son said, 'you wouldn't know what to do with them, if you caught one.' At that point he gave a big self-deprecating laugh and I noticed how shiny his black shoes were, and I thought how clean and chlorinated he must be after the swimming pool. Almost like a baby.



Mo said...

Lovely story, Ciara :-) I'm afraid my memories of Glasgow buses are women fighting to get on after the bingo and drunks on a Friday night - they always ended up sitting next to me with the opening line of "Gie us a wee smile, hen."

The Guy You Thought Was Rude said...

What a touching story. My Glasgow bus story does not approach yours. Up top with several Chinese tourists.

Found your blog while looking up Belle & Sebastian info - Ed