Sunday, 9 September 2012

Give Me Some Space




The magnificent Edinburgh Festival may be over for another year but the crowds in Scotland’s beautiful capital city are a constant feature. Which makes travelling on public transport in Auld Reekie an ideal subject for a rant.
Long gone are the days when you could sit on the top deck of a bus and gaze wistfully in peaceful tranquillity at the world go by. The world is a much smaller place than the one I grew up in as a child of the 1970s. Scotland is now a multi-cultural country and is a much better place for being so. Moreover, there is a trait which seems to bind all nations and cultures together - that symbol of 21st century living, namely the mobile phone. Like the vast majority of the people of the western world, I have one (in the unlikely event of anyone from Orange reading this, can you please consider changing your policy of putting so many obstacles in front of customers who wish to upgrade their phones? I won’t bore you with the details but this is likely to be the subject of another rant in the very near future) but I suspect I’m not alone in thinking fondly of the time when we lived without them.
It seems no matter what nationality, language or culture people in Edinburgh are or have, the behaviour whilst using a mobile phone is the same. That is having a loud, intrusive ring tone, and speaking way too loud to the person on the other end. Local ned types tend to bawl ‘Hullo? Aye, ah’m oan the bus. Ah’m just oan ma way roond the now’ while well-dressed smartarses with laptops and handbags large enough to contain a week’s shopping for a family of four tend to spout office talk such as ‘Hey, it’s Anna, yeah, I’m just heading back to the office. Going forward, I need you to get that report finished by close of business tonight’ (going forward appears to be the new buzzwords in businesses these days, as if people feel the need to demonstrate they’re not going backwards)
Other nationalities have similar traits. It would seem the universal answering of the mobile phone is ‘Allo’ but people of Chinese, Asian and African descent all use the same behaviour as Europeans - no matter what language they use, they talk loudly with no respect for other people’s right to have a bit of peace and quiet.
And another thing - fat people. Or, to use another 21st century buzzword - obese. Now it’s easy to pigeonhole obese people and believe they all eat far too much fatty fried food and are too lazy to cook nutritional meals and take physical exercise. And, being brutally honest, I probably fall into that category myself. Some people do have medical conditions and I understand that. However, no matter the reason for some people being the size they are, they have no excuse for thinking they have the right to take up two seats on the bus. I’ve been squeezed, squashed, crushed and nearly suffocated by fat obese people on the bus as well as having people whacking me with bags, rucksacks and dozens of carrier bags crammed full of frozen pizzas, chips and crisps. In the name of the wee man why the hell don’t some people look where they’re going. Going forward has responsibilities…
At least now I’m living in Leith, I have just a short walk to the Ocean Terminal shopping centre with no need for buses. However, the crowds there still hug their mobile phones, barge past without a thought for others and generally don’t look where they’re going. If some pedestrians drove their cars the same erratic way they walk in shopping centres there would be carnage on the roads. My mood during my last visit to Ocean Terminal last weekend wasn’t helped when I popped into Waterstone’s. While pleased to see my book Hearts Greatest Games on display the note underneath the book read ‘For the few Hearts fans in Leith’. Methinks their sales pitch could be improved…
I’m heading over to see my grandchildren later today on the interminable route that is Lothian Buses number 3. I’ll have the headphones of my Ipod lodged in my lugholes in an attempt to block out the ‘hullo, I’m on the bus’ in a dozen different languages. However, there’s bound to be Mr or Mrs Obesity waddle on to the bus with twenty carrier bags from Farmfoods. And, inevitably, they’ll sit next to me.
I may be gone some time…

5 comments:

Adullamite said...

Wonderful!
You will be pleased to hear that 'First Bus' were being criticised for missing out several buses through the villages recently. They just didn't appear! No excuse at the time. Roads works apparently so they just missed the village!

Mike Smith said...

That's the First Bus ploy. Run the services down then take them off altogether because they run at a loss!

Lilly said...

Funny post Mike. It is indeed the same the world over. I shopped at Ocean Terminal many times - must make a difference that you can now walk to work instead of the dreaded bus. Hope things are going well for you and your book is selling well.

Mike Smith said...

Thanks, Lily. Sadly, I still need to get a bus to work but at least I no longer live in Dalkeith. Hope all is well with you and yours.

Vicky said...

'Note to self' - Remember not to sit next to the Auld Reekie Ranter on a bus... hmmfff!