On the bus in Edinburgh

January 13, 2017, 7:30 AM

On bus.  Some large person with dainty ways (apart from shouldering me like a linebacker) has sat next to me every day this week.  I surmise that prior to my taking this bus, she sat in my seat (top level, front left seat).  For, even though when she gets on, there are still empty seats behind me, she sits down beside me with controlled violence, then crosses her gloved hands as if listening to a sermon.  Today was the first day she refrained, more or less, from expanding subtly, inexorably, into my space.  Perhaps it’s taken her that long to accept that the “hot desk” rule applies to buses. 

The first time she plopped down, I felt she was a man, as she was so very big.  Even now, I have no idea what her face looks like (one can’t very well look directly at a seat mate, especially when their head is above yours).  Now I realise she’s just a tall woman.  Old, I thought at first, but today I snuck a glance as she departed and she has baby blonde hair.  

It’s funny how without knowing her gender, her skin colour (it’s winter, so she’s all covered up), or her age, I knew that it was her who sat beside me each morning, just from her mass, posture and prim folding of hands.  

January 16, 2017, 7:24 AM

On bus.  Dark blue sky with glowy bits.  Spectacled man on balcony, smoking, cup in hand, surveying the kingdom.  

Pink tie, grey hair, jowls, long black coat.  Either an elderly estate agent or a funeral director — no, not the latter, as no room for the frivolity of a pink tie, unless it’s a clip-on he wears for the commute.   Oh, is that his reflection before me now and is he sitting directly behind?   Looks more professorial from this angle (where I’m looking slightly up).  Maybe looking directly down on him from the top level gave him a temporary characteristic.

He’s reading the Times.  That means something to British people, I’m sure.  He blew his nose.  He keeps his head angled up, so his eyes have to angle down to read the paper.   Could be just because he has a cold and that’s the safest position for his nose, or else that’s his preferred world-view.

At the stop where The Unknown gets on and sits beside me, my detritus was spread out (cleaned away now); a woman of the same — oh wait, I thought maybe this woman, who has sat in the empty seats opposite, was her, but in a new, more colourfully casual wardrobe.  But, the real Unknown just got on and took her customary place.   It’s warm.  She came on without gloves, perhaps only to fiddle with her earbuds, but now, despite the heat, she’s put them on.  This is what makes me think her slightly murderous.  

It’s light out now, with a bit of a hangover (the sky, not me).  And a 3/4 moon.   Suspended against its cloudy blue background like a pearl in an opened case.  How’s that?  Every time I see a daytime moon, I think of my mother.  My throat is constricting even now.  Listening to Neil Young’s Helpless.  Apparently, I want to cry.  But, I won’t.  

January 17, 2017, 7:25 AM

On the bus, already squishing myself to the side in anticipation (?) of the Unknown unfolding herself beside me.

A bald, bearded guy opposite, reading the Metro with a prim-mouthed, disgusted expression that makes me think today’s outfit — grey sweatshirt, cargo shorts and hiking runners with black dress socks — a mere costume.  His expression, and his socks, belong elsewhere.

Ah, there’s funeral director/estate agent guy.  Same pink tie.  This time I witnessed him going to the back of the bus.  Still not sure that was him sitting behind me yesterday.  A girl is sitting behind me today, extracting a long cord from her bag. 

(Ah, a new Unknown!)

A Russian czar look-alike is boarding the bus.  Trim grey beard, faded blue eyes, such as would demand another drink or an execution.   Perhaps that’s his mood this morning.  He’s wearing a black suit.  

So, now I await the stop where the Big Unknown will board and find her spot taken by a completely bald, early middle-aged man — looks Polish — wearing rain resistant greys and greens, backpack (spotless, unlike mine) and holding before him with both hands an ancient, horizontal clam-shell (?) device with a tiny screen above and keyboard below.  Ah, the Unknown has sat down opposite, next to the costumed man.  

Anyway, my seat mate is tapping out what no doubt is an encrypted message and I would guess him to be Russian secret-service, but why would he be in Edinburgh?  He has that deliberately expressionless face that at first, perhaps, is practiced and then becomes the default.  I would try it myself, but my jowls are bad enough as it is.  The dead expression gives you nothing to react to, so unless you’re another secret agent, your mind works to populate the canvas and you end up revealing your secrets, unbeknownst even to yourself.

Despite the shiny spotlessness of everything else about him (including his head), his screen is smudged.  Hah.

At Waverly.  A steady stream of people, only they’re flowing upwards to the pavement.  Nothing like in London, though.

That lady is wearing a nice yellow coat.  Nice silk scarf and tan, leather bag.  She has a slightly embarrassed air as she boards the bus, teetering on self-mockery, but never quite making it.  She looked up at me just as I thought this. I’m betting her car broke down — not that she seems the type to have a broken down car, either — and that the bus is not her usual mode of transport.  Unlike the Big Unknown, whose reflection I can at last see clearly.  And even though I can see her face,  it’s still an unknown.  Prominent, hooked nose, heavy-lidded eyes (maybe mostly from the time of day) and they are looking down, as if it takes all her strength to keep up her head, but the individual units are free to droop.  She looks quite sad as a consequence.  She is late 50s.  Baby blonde, shortish hair, more bent than curled.  

Her downcast expression is rather noble, like that of a Virgin Mary in the medieval frescos.  Maybe the fact she didn’t get her regular seat has set her off on a bad day.  Her legs (in knee high, brown boots and black tights) are shifted at the knee towards the aisle, as her new seat mate (costumed man) is bulky.  

Odd he’s wearing shorts.  There always are dedicated short-wearers, no matter the season.  They are a mystery to me.  I wonder what their sartorial ancestors did when everyone wore tights and doublets (whatever a doublet is).  Perhaps it would be correct to assume their ancestors were not of the nobility, as otherwise, why are they always on buses or walking near campuses.  

January 19, 2017

On the bus.  Black-blue sky with orange lights.  The only time I appreciate my bad eyesight, as the bluriness is a nice effect.  

Here’s a short-skirted, high-booted woman running towards the bus — in the headlights, so if this were a murder mystery, she’d be screaming and wild-eyed.  As it is, she wasn’t screaming and the bus driver allowed her on.

In the Bobby Owen book, a character observes that when a woman stops tending to her hair, you know she’s in a bad way.  That disturbed me.  I brush it, but I don’t think that fulfils my feminine duty.  Especially when there’s a tiny dreadlock in the back — at least, there was last week.  Maybe it’s sorted itself out.  Just like this shirt — at some point, I was going to toss it due to holes, but left it hanging.  In the meanwhile, every morning it looked at me: “You don’t love me anymore?”  Today, I couldn’t find any holes and put it on.  

Still no one next to me.  Think the Big Unknown will be out of luck, though, as seats opposite are already populated by her blonde brethren — oh, no one sat next to me at this stop, either.  

There we go: a bearded, bespectacled gentleman in a flat cap has taken her spot.   Corduroy completes the look.  An aspiring academic?  The rain-resistant, expensive looking hiking jacket makes me think, yes.   

Ah, the Big Unknown just got on and turned left for the first time.  

It’s funny how from my vantage up here, I can see so many bald pates.  It’s the only time I can ever look down on people.  But tall people never really have occasion to see the world from my height, unless they’re in a wheelchair or a race car.  

Oh, the prof is off.  He must be switching buses.  Let’s see.  He’s also got a man-bag and yes, he’s waiting at the next stop.  He’s smoking, so I bet he’s Italian.

I can see the Big Unknown.  She’s sitting in the seat right behind the stairwell.  In a way, that’s the next best seat, only I always think if the bus crashes, you’d flip out and down the stairs.

My face is swathed in mineral makeup.  I had to YouTube how to open the canisters, or whatever you call them.  My instinct was right — get out a box knife and stab.  Was glad to learn other people had trouble, as Dad told me that an early sign of doom is not being able to open things.

I was trying to think of a good description for the black-blue sky and all I came up with is how, when one’s wearing navy tights, the bit around the knee-cap is more tightly stretched, allowing your luminous knee to show through.

A local hair salon is taking over the empty shop in our building complex.  It’s named, “Lady Luxe.”  I was thinking, that name forever dooms it to the lower tiers, but then realised, it must be a pun, as in “Lady Luck’s”.  Still doomed, but at least it follows in one of the two great hair salon naming traditions.  They’re either named something like a CPA firm (“D.A. Patterson”) or there’s a pun (“Curl Up and Die”).  The lowest rung is a punless phrase like “Glamour Curls.”  I’ve never seen that one, albeit.  Maybe I should reserve the domain.

January 20, 2017, 7:32 AM

On the bus.  1930s throw-back guy was at the stop again.  Not a scrap of synthetic fabric on him.  Looked like a camel hair coat, unobtrusive trousers (meaning, I didn’t note them), cammo cloth backpack with leather straps, bryllo-creamed dark hair, and a splendid moustache, so neat and trim — Hitler’s bigger cousin (the moustache, not throw-back guy).   Nice looking man.  Tall, slim and military posture.

At first I assumed he was military, but now I almost think he’s a figment of my imagination.  Over his left shoulder was slung a tan leather satchel of some sort — at first I thought a squash racket, but it wasn’t quite the right shape.  Disassembled rifle?  When he got on bus 34, he gave cash, because in the 1930s, they didn’t use RideACard.  I got a good look at his face.  Older than his trim build in the shadows suggested, maybe mid to late 30s.  Dark, shadowed eyes like Omar Sharif or that Jane Austen wet shirt guy.  White, clear skin.  His expression was rather that of a sad accountant (but one implicated, wrongly, in a murder), but I suppose we all look like that on the bus.

Shorts-wearing, bulky guy is here again, primly reading his Metro newspaper.  It looks like he got new shoes, like me, as the tread of his hiking runners is dirt free, but unlike mine, there’s no price sticker.  

Oh, he’s wearing a Royal Mail polo shirt.  Well, that explains that. 

Big Unknown is back in her rightful spot, smelling like soap.