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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Tuesday, July 26, 2005
    On the buses
    I packed Reading the Everyday into my bag today, to fill in time travelling to town and back for a course. Waiting at the bus stop I thought about starting to read it. But I was struck by the impression that there would be something not quite right about reading about the significance of the ordinary, everyday, banalities of life while if I kept my head out of the book, I could be observing them all around, experiencing them myself.

    So I left the book in the bag, and without too much earnestness watched life as it passed by: bus stop life. Pondered why people take up certain positions at the stop - some place themselves centrally on the seats, others hover ready to pounce to the front of the queue when the bus arrives, others - like me - lurk in the background. And when the bus does arrive, the etiquette or subconscious hierarchies of who gets on first, who waits. Pondered the adverts - bus stops are as much advertising vehicles as human shelters - wondering if they are aimed at the bus-stop occupants or the people in the passing private cars. Thought about how bus stop use changes through the day - 8.30am, city centre shop staff; 9.30am (when free ticket time begins), pensioners; evening-time, young people not to travel but to gather for company.

    Getting off the bus, I joined the rest of the exiting passengers in saying "ta, mate," "thanks, pal" to the driver. Thought about that too. Why do we do that? Does it make the driver feel valued in his work or is it just empty ritual? Or is it about making us feel somehow better?

    This evening I fished Joe Moran's book out of my bag and began reading it. I find that in the front pages are two photographs of Liverpool bus shelters. And his introduction is all about waiting at bus stops. I'm going to enjoy this read.