Do you know what I love most about driving? What makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside while I’m driving? It’s the fact I’m not on the bus. I cannot recall a single happy memory involving a bus journey. I can remember filling the centre aisle with pink ice cream puke, when I was about 8. I can remember the bus ride, from swimming lessons, reeking of chlorine and diesel fumes, in primary school. I can remember a school tour to the Giant’s Causeway, which involved many hours, on a variety of buses. Whose bright idea was that? Lets get a bus from Galway to Antrim, and then get on a different bus, so a man with a microphone can tell us about our surroundings. One of our buses even had a police escort for reasons that were never made clear. I can remember how betrayed I felt when my lady persuaded me that the bus to Dublin Airport was a good idea. The buses are all brand new and have Wi-Fi and everything, and it will only cost twenty Euros. Sure, you would spend at least twice that on petrol and parking.
Well it was still awful. Sitting for the guts of three hours, in a seat exactly positioned to put pressure on your neck if you relaxed at all, or slouched to facilitate a nap. Every surface covered in a dizzying pattern of swirling browns and oranges. We would have been better off hitching a lift from one of those men who have sweets in their van.
After that, I put my foot down. From that day forth I vowed never to bus again. I’ll pay the parking, I’ll rent a car, I’ll get a taxi, it will be grand.
Flash forward to August 2016, Edinburgh. I’m standing at a bus stop on Niddrie Mains Road, staring at the digital sign, which predicts I shall be another seven minutes listening to Dangerous Dan tell me his stories. He is small, wiry, and a bit intense – “…happiest day of my life I got divorced. I was in jail at the time it came through. I knew she was a bad ‘un but… She worked in the garage there. I went down, and I said will ye marry me, and she said Aye. I was focked then.”
He is starting to get riled up about a football match, deftly rolling a cigarette, standing too close. What team d’ya follow yourself, lad? I’m beginning to think I might be focked, when the number 30 pulls up. I board, drop some Sterling in the coin box, and find a seat.
Petrol and parking are worth every penny. When travelling by car there is no compromise, no fixed departure time, no seats designed by a sadist, no sickening cheese and onion scented weirdo with his headphones turned up to eleven. An early morning drive to the airport can be enjoyable. Coffee in hand, holiday playlist on the radio, bags in the boot. I’m sticking to my guns this time. No more buses.