Sunday, 19 June 2022

'On the 11 Bus' by Birgit K. Gaiser

Peppa Pig squeaks on a man’s tablet as he desperately tries to keep his toddler entertained while her little sibling is howling in the pram. A group of teenagers in the back egg each other on to throw jelly babies at an extravagant hairdo a few rows in front. The dulcet US-accented tones of half a breakup conversation grind into my skull and, judging by the rising volume, the half I cannot hear is similarly uncivil. An ancient woman steadfastly ignores her ringtone, and I imagine that somewhere in London or Dublin a worried grandchild is wondering if she needs to call the emergency services.

Somehow the mellow, artificial voice of the announcement manages to break through the commotion in its wannabe posh accent: “This is a service to… Ocean Terminal. The next stop is… West End.”

I switch off Pharrell’s “Happy”, my own contribution to the ambient soundscape, and push the button.

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