Tuesday 03 February 1998
I jumped in and found myself, quite simply, in another world. The bus was full, the windows steamy and the crowd friendly. "Can I ask you not to go on the top deck? We're still renovating," cried the driver, beaming. The crowd laughed. It was not a double-decker. Had I'd entered a sit-com? I sat down and the woman on my right looked at me. "Asda?" she asked. I almost said "No, Ann, actually" when I realised this was her only English word. She repeated it. "Asda?" cried the driver. "Don't ask me about Asda! Supermarkets aren't for men. I have a lady who does that. That's what women are for. The last time I went shopping was in 1946. I went to Woolworth's and lost all my money! No place for a man."
The woman behind me is laughing so hard that the seat is moving. "I've got four ex-wives," cried the driver. "It's true what they say, you know, you never see an ex-wife on a bicycle. They all drive BMWs. There are three ways to get a woman. Borrow, steal or marry one. Borrowing is the cheapest. Marrying them is expensive. Don't do it! It's true, you know, you never see an ex-wife on a bicycle!"
He pauses, but only to draw breath. "I saw one of my ex-wives the other day and she said `Take off your trousers'. Well, I thought that was rather cheeky because it had been a while. But then I might just have got lucky. But when I turned round she'd taken my trousers and all my money too!"
The bus groaned. I did a reality check. Was this really happening? The foreigners got off with a man and the driver pounced. "Now remember, Sir! No supermarkets. No place for a man! You never see an ex-wife on a bicycle!" Nor a bus, I thought, and I am pretty sure I know why.
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