I bumped into the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone the other day, or rather he bumped into me. He was trying so hard not to be recognised while he picked up some groceries at his local supermarket – keeping all but his eyes covered by a scarf – that he failed to not run over my foot with his trolley.
To make matters worse, his trolley was being passengered at the time by one of his young children – it could have been his son or his daughter because I was too embarrassed to look them in the eye – who thought it simply hilarious that daddy had crashed his trolley.
With all the excitement, and since I had determined to pretend that I had not realised that it was the Mayor of London who had just run over my foot, since Ken was trying so hard not to be recognised, I confess all I was able to stammer was ‘sorry’, even though I was clearly not the cause of the crash (nor do I accept liability for it for insurance purposes, before you get any ideas, Mr Livingstone).
After this brief encounter I chastised myself for not having anything more serious to say to my Mayor, or for not at least asking a searching question about London’s transport. For instance, why when Hackney (my ‘manor’) is without a tube, is the Silverlink Metro service so woeful? (Only four or five trains an hour, and when they do come they are often as not dangerously overcrowded.)
I am sure he’s glad though that I was only able to mumble apologies and amble away, because it must get right tedious hearing everyone’s gripes about their buses and tubes as he goes about his business. Indeed I overheard one of the Waitrose check-out blokes say to another: “Look, there’s your mate Livingstone. Go and ask him why your bus was so late this morning!”; “Don’t be daft,” was his colleague’s efficient response.
Aaanyway since I had nothing to say for myself when I met my Mayor I thought I would express a political opinion posthumously, as it were, with a little poem about another aspect of London Transport that a lot of people were saddened by – the demise of the old Routemaster buses. The Routemasters (pictured below for our American friends who I am sure will wonder what the hell I’m on about) are being phased out and replaced by modern, long, bendy buses, you see. Perhaps Ken will see this and publish me in Poems on the Underground – now that we’re practically best friends and all. Perhaps not.
And so it seems, this is the end.
Your time is up, you would not bend
To fashion, safety, rules and reg’s –
No more will passengers have to use their legs
(At least not as fast, at any rate).
No more your conductors, with their ticket machines
Your running board, stairs, upper deck – your dreams.
It’s over now; perhaps you know
There’s a new bus in town – they’re letting you go.
It’s safe, and bendy:
But boring, un-trendy.
It’s no longer thrilling to travel the buses
Though safety-wise they’re convinced there are pluses.
But before you ‘ting’ twice for the stop in the sky
Come via my place for one last try,
“Climb on, hold tight!”
Jump off while you’re moving?
Know what? I just might.
Image source: www.savetheroutemaster.com.