Crouch End to Bologna – part 1

March 2009
A number 144 bus at about a quarter to nine in the morning from the Victoria Stakes at Alexandra Park to Turnpike Lane, and then a number 41 to Tottenham Hale. Past the cheap chicken shops and periodic restaurants of Priory Road and Hornsey High Street and then the bay-fronted terraced houses of Victorian Tottenham.
The buses are frequent and well-used, with people going about their business for the day, people of every skin-shade, accent, and religion (not least an ageing Hasidic Jew who got on at Tottenham Swan). A man is taking his children somewhere, possibly to a childminder, and his little boy is tired, and stroppy, and is saying that here is a rubbish place to sit, it’s rubbish, he wants something else, though is in such a negative state that probably anywhere other than the front seat upstairs, one position of which is already occupied by me, will be no good, it’s rubbish, and the man is trying to be kind, but kindness will not do.
I’m on my way to Italy, and it occurs to me that as I later-on ease my way through the crowds and goings-on at Stansted Airport, as I sit on my Ryanair 737 and read my newspaper and doze, as I collect my hire-car from Bologna airport, and as I drive this little car, the type and make of which I have as yet no idea of, the number 144 bus will continue to make its way back and forth between Muswell Hill and Edmonton; the number 41 bus will continue to go to and fro between Archway and Tottenham Hale; they will do this all day and possibly all night and all day tomorrow and all day every day; the people will continue to do whatever it is they get on the bus for, the drivers will drive this journey a million times, and there are an awful lot of people in the world, and I am exceedingly privileged to be able to undertake this journey just once, and to see it as an adventure, when many or most of my fellow passengers on this leg of the journey are too jaded by its frequency to see just what an adventure and privilege it is.

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