Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Of Books and Buses

Nowadays, I tend to do the bulk of my reading either while waiting for the bus, or on it.  I don’t usually read too much in the evenings and I go to bed quite early during the week because I have to get up so early for work.  This, in and of itself, isn’t a particularly bad thing, but it has led to a problem of late, in which I find that the bus driver always ensures that we arrive at my stop in the morning just as I’m getting to a really good bit.  I can’t start reading again until lunchtime, an infinitely long 5 hours or so later.  It’s very frustrating.

I don’t know why they’d do this.  I’ve phoned the bus company in the past to complain about their poor service (the company’s, not the drivers, who are usually fairly amiable) and it’s possible that the drivers have taken this as a slight upon themselves and wish to punish me.  I’m also not entirely sure how they know when I’m at a Good Bit though.  Possibly they make sure they can see me in their rear-view mirror, and gauge the quality of the particular section I’m reading by how absorbed I appear to be, accelerating if it looks like I might finish that bit before we reach my stop.  It’s the only thing that makes sense really.

It seems like a low and petty thing to do to a person, and I’ve been tempted to complain about it, but I imagine that they wouldn’t take me or my complaint seriously.  I’d have to ask to speak to someone who reads a lot, but they might not have anyone.  It is Stagecoach after all.  The only other thing to do is ask the driver to circle for a few minutes if it looks like we’re approaching my stop; maybe take a more scenic route for a little while.  The other commuters wouldn’t mind too much, I’m sure.  It would be a treat to them; these people who see the same roads, the same houses, the same lamp-posts and fields twice a day, every single day, while I am exploring distant worlds in the sanctity of my own head.  True we might be ten or fifteen minutes late, but that’s no worse than the bus company often manages entirely without my input.

And if I’m fortunate enough to be reading a book which consists, cover to cover, of one long unbroken Good Bit (such as, to choose a completely random example, Three Men on a Pilgrimage: A Comical Progress by Thomas Jones, published by Whispering Tree Original Books and available online and through all good bookshops), then we could go somewhere really different while I read it all, detour through far-flung fields, hills and meadows, verdant forests and majestic mountains which would uplift their spirits, something that badly needs doing to assuage the soul-ache of knowing that soon you will be in Luton.  It would be good for the driver too.  It would do wonders for their alertness, morale and general joie de travail.  We are told that it is very bad to travel on monotonous roads, that it leads to drowsiness, inattention, property damage and death.  By persuading them to go on this circuitous but picturesque journey, road safety will be increased, my fellow commuters will be happier (and therefore more productive once they get to work, easily off-setting the slight lateness that may result), and more importantly still, I’ll get to finish my book.

Everybody profits, no-one loses out.  I may well write to the Prime Minister and suggest that he puts the idea before parliament.

I’ll expect my OBE in the post.

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