I sent this to a sub, once. She ‘liked’ it, but did nothing. I sulked.
The opening is dense, otherwise reads like the English language throughout totally, yes, and I think so 🙂
Bus Boy at Victoria station
A penniless pot poet, pending pen who comes back to work (every day). A slacker chap, another leaper, train carriage grinds a straight edge.
[I] swung lead legs, [and] departed station fan at a shoulder by the sky, weaved cabs, a bus garage, hopped through into a dark arcade, skipped drowsy piles of sleeping bags in every doorway, and nine o’clock, and every day, greeted the Rhodesian, a uniformed security officer: he wore Santa’s beard, toed tramps away with [his] boot,
‘Get up. You cannot sleep here. Clear off or I fetch the broom,’ he said, the Saffa.
[The] ghosts gathered the fix of blanket eyes, hitched jeans, slough-slid Victoria Street and milled upon Catholic cathedral square, begged crumbs astride their pet pigeons. The daylight party was over there, a rush around, a school playground. Men, some were spider-webbed – tattoos tanned on our beach, man.
Where I hung once, out the back of a Routemaster double-decker bus. The ship, parked up for the capture of Euro, American natives. We grifted the gates of Buckingham Palace.
‘Is this the bus for Buckingham castle?’
‘Yes sir.’ I replied.
‘How much, buddy?’ he said.
‘Is twelve pounds sir, the journey to two hours.’
‘Takes dollars? Hang on. Honey, honey – I can’t understand the guy. He says palace too pants.’
‘Do what the man says.’ she said.
Eujamerigan, either end of the barrel from experience was larger than my life, and the world a richer place for that. Huge and healthy or post-combat like the fella. Hairy humongous, fiddled with a string of cameras slung across his chest, a baseball cap, I remember; all shapes, sizes made the journey I too awaited with my driver on the back seats. Scotsman, a pal. An old boy, seventy years, flat cap, black teeth and the medals – ridge ran long his veteran’s blazer pocket.
‘Bus driving was a profession. Not like now, Aye recall Marble Arch nineteen forty-four:
“Time for a knee-trembler, darling?”’ said [the girls], a very long time ago.
‘Do you like a knee-trembler, son?’ he said.
‘Pass, oh pass me please, sit with the views upstairs, Madam. Up the stairs.’
The bus top – full of feet and a half dozen, the soft and sick, sat
down below with me. Cockney point-controller, he handled cash, [wore] a peaked captain hat, a belly, B O and tatts too, my brother, though the sub-species was rough.
‘Off you go. Full house. There’s twenty Korean up there, I said you’d talk slowly. Go on, fuck off.’
Mac climbed into his cab, gunned the engine, I slouched the recess seat in a hollow at the back of the bus. Jumped to my feet, I rang the bell twice.
The best guide in London may well have been the worst microphone player, [my] timing, my vowel annunciation, I mean I bust a bizarre bass oration sound of the geriatric senator when really I remained scallywag brat.
‘Good morning ladies and gentlemen, my name is Matt. Welcome to London. I am live guided.’
Downstairs, down the stairs.
Hide seek, the back of heads, ears twitched, attuned to the rhythms of my voice, as I established if anybody understood a word I said; finished a cigarette off the back step with the mic cable’s tail, like a rat man. No, a happy boy I climbed the stairwell of the bus, showed face, otherwise read yesterday’s paper. Incredible, how a mind runs twin track and I watched myself, listened to my speech. The people went happy on top. What can be better than a ride? Capital, wind in the hair with family, friends although the way I spoke sent types around the bend, the volume high set, an irritating sense of humour. My days achieved all this. Dothed tongue at the end, counted twenty pounds change: hydraulic sandwich fund. Tripped four times and the day was done, loopy, patter repeated, threads spilled trails in my mind, tour guided in sleep. Success rate seventy percent with the spiel, great fail, but typically:
‘Hot damn, you’re so funny. Tell me the Winston Churchill again.’
‘I may be drunk but you are ugly,’ mister.
‘Ha ha ha. Hey son,’ and he dropped ten cents into my palm.
‘Thank you, sir.’
An Englishman, he said –
‘You’re like a young Tommy Steel, you are lad. Tommy Steel on the stage.’
‘Yes I should,’ I raged. ‘Mrs Brunhilde?’
‘Bond Street for the toy shop, madam.’
Stop. Toast, ten minutes. The Queen Victoria, always open for a lavatory. Away.
‘Iron Lady, blue years handbagged,’ and half my lifetime wasted ‘talking English.’
‘Did he say, Mary something about his old lady? We’re going to see a lady, Mary.’
‘Good ladies and gentlemen.’
‘He said Upstairs Downstairs.’
‘And I love that show.’
My bus pulled aside an exquisite Belgravian row where a machine-gun cop guarded feet but stared at me. Trigger-twitch finger, a fellow daydream, I imagined and treated him to the full blast profundo, hammer horrors of a,
‘Is a what, where?’
‘Take the photo.’
This, my top deck stirred: squirmed, stood their eyes, in goggles stared.
‘What is he talking about?’
Belgrave Square’s finest flags swung from first floor consulate balconies,
‘Identify embassies of Dulland, Frass, Raq, Lilliputt, Scotlon, Khat,’ I said.
All around Hyde Park Corner motor cars enjoyed the wonderful artillery guns’ point to Flanders.
‘What passing bells for these who die?’ my tribute trilled a chaffing, and trite outside the Lanesbrough hotel I said:
‘Michael Jackson dangles babies out of that window,’ I pointed, said it.
‘Where is he, Michael his-name. This guy Apsley is who?’
‘House, madam. The Duke of Wellington, Number One, London, Irishman, “born in a stable, does not follow I am horse.” Yes, he said that once upon a time.’
‘Horses.’ she said.
‘Behold Queen Mother Gates, sculpt reflects curve of a monarch’s majestic breasts.’
But why did I ever say such a [thing]? Chap, I don’t know. Read an article in the press, not a crowd-pleaser for sure, had to scratch it – out before I fell to crap all day long, managed instead, squeezed a,
‘Hilton, however high – man parachute from top sailed – exploding on whale beach.’
All faces now sat pale-pinched and miserable. Hyde Park spread and a wilderness blew,
‘To our left.’
Tumbleweed – we were drawn to Speakers’ Corner, goodness knows why we lost a load.
‘Go you, hop on hop off world, join the crazies on the crates.’
We wrangled – forty replacement prisoners: any given Sunday at the Tyburn Tree.
A nun prayed over the gallows spot, a touch at half time and I breathed, manned the mic. I made amends,
‘My friends: toot de toot, toot, toot, toooooot,’
I ran upstairs, saluted ‘The Embassy of the United States of America…’
We all cheered, rode on, buddies through Mayfair.