Thursday, April 26, 2007

Talk MUST be Cheap!

Riding atop a big red London omnibus, as I did the other day, gives you a wonderful overview of the life and times of Londoners.
I should explain that, on my visits to the great metrollops (no, auntie, that’s not a typo – just a very old joke), I use public transport as much as I can. It’s part of a game I have with London Transport, a.k.a. Ken Livingstone, who sell me a seven day travel card for £45, giving me unlimited access to all their routes. The object of the competition is to spend in excess of the £45 on travel, in which case I’ve won! It follows, therefore, that I have a tendency to jump on any passing bus in order to accumulate points, so to speak.
On this occasion I had espied a big red thingy placarded “Canning Town.” My mother came from that Elysian area in the East End of London and took a perverse pride in it. Curious as to what had become of the place I hopped aboard.
It was from my eyrie on the top deck that I observed the mysterious and sacred ritual of the Londoner as they climbed the stairs.
In one hand they clutched their votive offering to the God of London Transport, called, obscurely, an Oyster card. This, I noted, they placed lovingly on a little yellow pad alongside the driver, when their donation would be recorded by the almighty.
In their other hand, they clutched a religious icon which, from time to time, they would place to their ear, no doubt to hear messages of inspiration from above. Frequently they would mutter invocations into the thing, apparently speaking in tongues.
Barely one ascended the stairs to the upper deck without performing this religious rite whilst en route, leading me to think that this might be a suitable new sport for the London Olympics. Londoners would win, hands down.
Even whilst seated, they continued to consult the oracle and, from what I could see from my vantage point, most of the pedestrian populace were doing the same thing as they walked along.
My question is – what on earth were they all talking about?
A planet has now been discovered which might support life as we know it. Let’s hope they’re sufficiently advanced to be able to listen in to the conversations. It should effectively prevent them from ever wanting to invade.

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