An Urban Myth
Strange strange things happen after midnight. Three weeks ago, a Friday, I was coming back from London. Earlier trains had been cancelled & I was in this crowded last train out. We were all crammed in like chickens in a cage and my mouth was dry as feathers. I got out at Manchester Piccadilly, uncreased myself, fluffed myself back up and headed straight to the bus stop on Oldham St to get back to Oldham where I live.
It was then I realised it was past midnight and the regular buses had stopped. I looked around. There are six of us at the bus stop or spread about, waiting, I counted - six of us, and only one of us, me, was sober. There is no greater hell than being the only sober person at a bus stop after Friday night's pub and club chuck out time. Everyone's heaving or bawling or boasting. Nobody but you can read the timetable.
This tatooed knucklehead, at least forty, staggers up to me, big chops, red face, no legs, well gone. He has this wary, 'I'm a hard man just finished my prison sentence for gbh' look. He sways past me and he's in front of the timetable board thing at the bus stop, squinting. He turns to me: 'when's the next bus?'
He does not ask this in a civil manner. It’s more a bark, a command.
'According to the timetable its at half past 12, half past midnight,' I say, smiling in a friendly manner at him.
'What time is it now?' he snaps back, swaying. Which is a hard trick to pull off - snapping and swaying at the same time.
Yeah when's it comin? someone else calls out.
I'm wearing jeans and a brown jacket. I don’t have a clip board or walkie talkie or anything, but everyone seems to think I work for the bus company or I'm the speaking clock.