Column November 10, 2010: Two drips on the bus and only one is me

I DO not trust Noddy. I do not like his clothing, apart from that hat with the bell. That’s good as you can hear him coming. It’s a public service – trouble alert. They should make all idiots wear them, instead of replica football tops.

Incidentally, why do men do that? It’s just fancy dress for adults. If I turned up at the pub dressed as Buzz Lightyear, I’d get laughed at. But turn up as Jamie Carragher…

And Noddy’s Adventures in Toyland? Adventures? Sailing from Australia to Africa single-handed on a raft is an adventure. Finding out who a lost picnic basket belongs to? That’s not an adventure. That’s a mild inconvenience.

But worst of all is that little yellow car? That is supposed to be a taxi. Can you imagine seeing that in the rank outside the Adelphi? You would be counting the people in front. “They’re together. They’re together. Is he with them, or is he on his own? Oh, please don’t let mine be the red and yellow one with the weird man-boy driving it.”

And the very least I expect from a taxi is that it’s got a roof. I don’t want to have to be dependent on Tessie Bear accidentally leaving her umbrella behind to keep the rain off. No wonder he can only charge sixpence.

I thought of this taxi design flaw while sitting on the bus this week. As you will remember, this week saw monsoon conditions take hold – rain, cold and wind in an unholy trinity driving people off the streets. I was delighted to step onto a warm bus, the steam gently rising from the cargo of pensioners and blatantly dope-smoking teenagers.

And there was a free seat. I could sit by the window and not see out because it was steamed up, which was about the best result I could have hoped for.

I sat down. I felt a bit uncomfortable and wet, but I chalked that up to the rain on my mac. Soon I warmed up and my mac dried off.

Then I felt a drip on my ear. I closed the window. Another drip on my ear. I looked at my mac. One half, away from the window, was dry, the other had a pool of water on it.

I looked up. A fairly steady stream of drips was issuing from the ceiling, and I had sat in the wet patch. I moved over onto the dry seat and thought, like Bruce Willis in Die Hard 2, “How can the same shit happen to the same guy twice?”

For a couple of years ago, I stepped aboard the number 78 on Brownlow Hill. Every window seat was taken, but all of the aisle seats were free. I had to make a snap decision: which one of the passengers would give me the least trouble if I sat next to them?

I spied a lady in late middle-age sitting halfway along. I sat next to her. Almost as soon as I sat down, she placed a baseball cap on her head. My spider-sense started tingling.

My fears were confirmed, when moments later, she sneezed. She did not cover her mouth. It was a powerful expulsion, like the one o’clock gun in Edinburgh, and the bald man sitting in front of her got the full benefit. I started at his scalp, half in revulsion, half in pity.

Then, mercifully, the woman said, “Excuse me.” I stood up as she bundled past, then sat down again. “A window seat,” I thought, “Hooray!” I shuffled along the seat and, for extra purchase, put my hand down onto the cushion. That was when I realised the true extent of the woman’s sneeze.

I was stuck. I couldn’t put my hand on anything else, and I certainly couldn’t sit on the affected area. Nor would I want anybody else to. I remained on the aisle seat, a space next to me.

But now the bus was filling up. People were standing in the aisle, staring daggers at me for not allowing them to sit down. But, being English, nobody asked me. And I wasn’t going to volunteer the information that I had a wee-wee hand.

The whole uncomfortable situation could have been averted had that woman worn a hat with a bell on.

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