Alice and I took the bus into town. I don’t usually take the bus. In fact, I’ve hated taking the bus ever since a homeless man explained to me, in a patronising manner, how bus timetables worked. He then told me – as I inched away from him and the smell of cider and weed – about his legal issues, his problems with the local constabulary, his “mate” who was a “bad man”, who, in his words, had “set me up” and who was “looking to hurt me”. He then asked if he could move in to our house (“Don’t worry mate, I don’t do drugs much”). At that point I said I’d rather walk the four and a half miles into town.
Ever since then, I have avoided public transport if possible. This time, though, Alice and I needed to pick the car up from the garage after an oil leak was repaired, so I had no choice in the matter.
Luckily, we managed to catch a double-decker, and even more luckily, we got the much-coveted for any Daddy-Daughter Municipal Transport Mission: the top-deck-front-seats.
So Alice and I happily chatted up front while everyone else stared at their phones. We enjoyed waving at other people on other buses. We enjoyed waving at people walking along the pavement. We enjoyed the slightly naughty thrill of peeking through upstairs windows, seeing how appallingly people had decorated their rooms, peering into bedsits and flats, front rooms and bedrooms, and even kitchens.
“Look Al, there’s a man cooking!” I said, pointing to a man in a nearby house, with his back to us, cooking something vigorously – I thought it was a stir fry.
“IT LOOKS LIKE HE’S WASHING HIS WILLY!” announced Alice to the entire upper deck of the Number 76.
In the reflection of the bus window, I saw a woman behind me look up from her phone, tut and shake her head at us.
Later on, with embarrassment over, car repaired and Sarah picked up from work, we went to a very excellent Kerala curry emporium. To stave off Alice becoming restless whilst waiting for poppadums, we played a game where Sarah and I named amusing British place names, to see which ones Alice found funniest. Amazingly, Piddletrenthide, The Slaughters, Splatt, Plwmp, and Crapstone only scored mediocre points with our nonplussed girl.
However, according to Alice, Dorchester is the funniest place name in the UK.