As I wait for my bus to work, an old lady hobbles along towards the busstop and I see a bus heading our way, a bus I don’t want but she might.
Oh no, I think, she can’t walk and look round at the same time cos she’s old, I bet she will be really sad when the bus goes past her.
“Do you want this one?” I say at her face, pointing over her shoulder.
She blinks her watery eyes, smiles.
“Do you want this one?” I say again, my voice rising in pitch because there are precious few seconds left to hail it.
She stops, flinches at my jabbing hand, her smile tightening. It’s almost too late, what the hell is wrong with her?
“DOYOUWANTHISONE?……Bus. Is. Coming. Do. You. Want. It?”
“Oh no, love,” she says with relief, “I don’t want the bus.” And she hurries on past.
A minute later, my bus arrives and I overtake her, replaying the conversation and thinking how maybe it sounded a little too much like a schizophrenic whose dominant personality was baying for blood, and whose submissive one was desperately pointing out possible victims: Do you want that one?
The following morning I’m on the bus again, late for work again, and watching an ambulance overtake us. They command such respect, making even lorries and white vans scurry meekly out of their way.
Sadly as a Study Skills Tutor, I am only the 315th Emergency Service, behind Dog Counsellors and even Pupa Unpickers in the pecking order (in fact, although technically my inferiors at 333rd, the Beak/Bill Brigade enjoy a rep I can only dream of – ‘My wife wants to divorce me, says I have a bill not a beak’. ‘Better call the B/BB!’ Those guys provide a vital service).
No, I simply stand no chance of getting anywhere any faster than anybody else. One day when essays are a finally recognised as a matter of life and death, I’ll flip on my sirens and shame these fuckers into the central reservation.
Perhaps if ITV’s The Bill had been called The Beak, it would still be on our screens and in our hearts. Sadly, it is relegated to a laughable memory of how naive we all were. We watch True Detective now, don’t you know. Even crime drama from the early Noughties is ridiculously outdated.
Take Murder in Mind, starring David Suchet as a married Headmaster who goes to the park and hooks up with a rent boy, played by James McAvoy with a truly bizarre West Country accent. Try keeping a straight face during this proposition:
It lead to this week’s in-joke in our house:
“It’s 30 for a bill,” I keep saying to Esther in Cornish, “100 quid and you get the full beak.”
“Can I try before I buy?” She replies.
“Peck it in,” I say.