COLUMN: March 23, 2017

Roxanne-Darryl-Hannah-Steve-Martin
Here is a picture from my favourite film. It has literally nothing to do with this column, but I read something which says you have to have a picture or nobody will read your column

I LEFT home with a £10 note, a £2 coin, a £1 coin, and a 2p piece in my pocket.

I am not showing off, nor do I want you to think that this is normal for me, that I am the heir to Rockefeller, with gold shoes and a suit made of diamonds and rubies.

But I had gone to withdraw £10 from a cash machine the day before, and it only had £20 notes left. Banks, know this, nobody who has gone to a bank to withdraw £10 wants a £20 note, because that person is very aware that handing over a £10 note in a shop for a packet of Polos just so he has change for the vending machine in his office is already pushing his luck.

Anyway, the damage was done, and there I was, swanning off to work with folding money in my pocket, like Rihanna or the late Sir David Frost would if they were going to the bus stop.

I am currently trying to improve myself by learning a couple of foreign languages, which should enable me to be misunderstood by even more people, and so I was listening to a radio programme in one of those languages and only recognising the word for “thank you” and the occasional bit of stolen English.

In order to do this, I was wearing earphones attached to my phone, because I am not the sort of person who thinks it is perfectly OK to make other passengers listen to my rubbish music, unlike the woman who was on my train showing her friends a video of herself singing karaoke. Several times.

I arrived at the bus stop and was alone. I had just missed one. It sailed past me as I was on my way to the stop, showing a fleetness rarely demonstrated when I am on the thing.

It was sunny, and I had left my coat at home for the first time this year. After a few minutes I was joined by a small and elderly woman, who stared at me long enough to make me uncomfortable. I have developed a sort of radar sense for bus-related trouble, and she was making it buzz like an angry giant bee in a skip.

My bus appeared in the distance, like Omar Sharif in Laurence Of Arabia. I realised my earphone cable had become caught up with the strap on my very manly shoulder bag. I disconnected it from the phone and put my phone in my trouser pocket while I began the untangling.

The untangling completed, I took the phone out of my pocket along with the £1 coin. I started to reattach the earphone cable, as the bus came close.

As it pulled into the stop, the little old lady pushed in front of me – as if I were not going to let her on first anyway – jostling me unnecessarily.

The pound coin was knocked out of my hand, flew through the air, and rolled into the road, whereupon its progress was stopped only by the weight of the front wheel of the bus.

The only way I would have been able to get my money back would have been for me to have let the bus go on its way without me, which would have made me late for work. I had to sacrifice the quid. The injustice still burns, as hot as the daggers I gave the old lady as I went to sit down.

I was still angry when I left the bus, half an hour later, but luckily it had started to rain, and my anger was replaced by a profound sense of regret that I had left my coat at home. I began the 10-minute walk from the bus stop to work.

Soaked, I approached my office, feeling glum and wet. And sitting by the side of the road was a homeless man. He was clearly having a worse day than me, so I stopped in front of him and put my hand in my pocket to give him the quid I knew I had.

Oh, I remembered, I no longer have that quid because of Old Mother Queuejumper. But then I was stuck. I had to give him something, because I’d stopped. I couldn’t give him 2p. I certainly wasn’t going to give him £10.

So I had to give him the £2 coin.

And then I had to buy another packet of Polos to get change for the vending machine.

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