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Your shout: Sarah Sumeray - 'I love London buses: they're full of weirdoes'

Written by
Time Out London contributor

Taking public transport is never dull. In fact it's the greatest show in town.

The crowds, the cost, the mingling odours of KFC and sweat, the manic crushing of candies and furious flicking of fowl into swine - the mere mention of public transport in London is enough to induce palpitations of anxiety.

But what if I told you there was another way? A whole new world of entertainment, in fact, right there on the 134 to Camden.

I'm by no means a naturally enthusiastic Routemaster rider. You're taking advice here from a girl who once had to be yanked off a bus by three policemen when it terminated before her stop (I know my rights). But after years of simply tolerating the bleakness of getting around London, something in me shifted.

I was at the bus stop at 7am, waiting to get started on my daily 90- (yes 90-) minute commute into work. I inadvertently tuned into a conversation between two teenage girls who were tackling one of the great posers of our age: why do you never see photos of dinosaurs? Truly, it was baffling (maybe they couldn't get them to keep still long enough?) but it cheered me up no end. I decided right then to embrace a new philosophy. I'd use my otherwise soul-sapping commute to observe, at close hand, the myriad eccentricities of human behaviour.

Spy on people, basically.

First there was the woman I spotted chatting to a pigeon at a bus stop in King's Cross, who - when she caught me eavesdropping - gave me a look of disdain and said, 'It's not weird, he knows me.' Then there was the toddler I couldn't take my eyes off because he looked exactly like Des Lynam. Seriously, exactly like Des Lynam. And I'll never forget the old lady on the bus who, when I asked her what she was knitting, answered 'a willy-warmer'. What a cool gran.

There are some people I maybe wish I could have avoided, such as the woman sat opposite me on a train who tore the flesh off a grapefruit while staring, unblinking, into my eyes. Or the man on the escalator I overheard whispering 'I want you to be the pig to my Cameron' into his girlfriend's ear (shudder). But even they were amusing.

It's not only other people who can enhance your daily commute. As a kid, I loved sitting at the front of the DLR, proudly pretending to drive all of my passengers around. Where did that sense of wonder go, people? Let's let our imaginations run free again and make the best of a bad situation - no I'm not too short to reach the rail, I'm riding the Victoria line surfboard simulator into Oxford Circus!

Most of us are stuck with public transport, right? So instead of hating on it, just get something out of your otherwise harrowing journey. Who knows, you might overhear the answers to some profound questions. Like, what happens if the gift horse really needs a dental check-up? When did unicorns become extinct? And, can we judge the cover of a book if it's committed a terrible crime?

The truth is out there. Probably on a bus.

Illustration: Nate Kitch

Want more ranting and raving? Read Samantha Baines' column on the cost of love in London.

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