Irrational Encounters With The Modern World

Glasgow Bus Nutters – Well, One Of Them.

This happened a couple of years ago, in 2010, and thankfully I wrote it down at the time. I have loads of half-finished writings from years gone by, and partly I hope this site will encourage me to finish them or salvage what I can, and/or inspire me to write my adventures more succinctly and in a more timely manner.

I had been to see Combichrist in Glasgow’s Classic Grand, and after quite a few mental encounters outside – being given a CD by some woman in a band, then being verbally abused and threatened by a guy as he was shaking my hand, and having a young drunk guy ask if I’d ever seen his band play before revealing they’d only ever gigged in his mate’s front room – it was time to go home. I crossed the street and caught my bus down Paisley Road West.

There was a wee tiny skelf of a man sitting down the front of the bus, in a seat that faced up the gangway. He was sixty if he was a day, and could barely keep himself upright, his head too heavy to stay in one place – and yet he was trying his damnedest to pick a fight. He’d chosen, as his adversary, a near-sober, squat, well-built, forty-something guy sitting in the seat facing him. The drunk’s patter was going in increasingly-slurred circles.

“Waant a skwerr go?” he asked, trying to be tough and seeming like he meant it – despite the fact he couldn’t focus. “I’ll batter you. Outside, now!”

Oblivious to the fact he was on a bus, where stepping outside now wasn’t a viable option, he continued “I’ll batter you, you’ll see, aye that’s right,” and so on. His chosen adversary was remarkably tolerant (for a nightbus in Glasgow where you’ve been invited to square-go), answering non-threateningly but in that typically-unimpressed Glaswegian way – “Will ye, aye? Will ye? Right, then. Okay.”

The guy sitting next to me, three or four rows up the bus, kept laughing quietly to himself every now and then, amused by the spectacle, and I eventually asked him if this had been going on for a while. He told me the drunk took half an hour to get on, insisting to the driver that he’d given him £20. There’s a glass bit for the money – if he had, you’d see it. Finally, he had sat down and immediately started with his shit – which was still ongoing. “I’ll batter you!”

Round about Cessnock Underground, I looked up as someone came down the aisle from the back of the bus. He walked right down to the front, picked up the drunk guy’s rucksack – and casually lobbed it out of the door onto the pavement. He then returned, and in one move picked up the drunk, got him to the door, and shoved him out to land on top of it. With no sweat broken, he returned to his seat – interrupted only briefly as the chosen adversary shook him by the hand on the way past and said, with a smile, “Thanks for that.”

The driver, whatever his moral opinion of the situation might be, and no doubt biased by the £20 encounter and the general feeling on his bus, shut the doors and drove off. This was the impetus fora big fat craggy-faced wumman, with an equally craggy voice, like she’d smoked every cigarette ever rolled, to start having a go at the tolerant guy. “That’s terrible, that!” she said, and proceeded to verbally welly right into him. “I didnae dae nu’hin!” he protested. “It was the guy up there done it!” Seamlessly, and in a bemused manner, he demanded of nobody in particular “Have I got fuckin ‘talk to me’ wrote on my forehead?! Fucksake!”

Undeterred, she shouted up the bus at the removal man. “God’ll get you!”

“As long as he’s no’ got your fuckin voice!” the guy shouted back.

By now she was prattling away, repeating herself and nagging both of them. The remarkably tolerant guy loudly bemoaned his part in the whole thing, to nobody and everybody. “One -twenty-five for ma ticket, ah should’ve took a fuckin taxi!”

That was the catalyst, and anyone who wasn’t stifling a laugh by this point began laughing aloud, the whole bus in uproar. The patter between them was so fast, and so funny, as this one guy lamented his poor fortune, the woman chastised both of them, and the guy up the back genuinely didn’t give a fuck.

The removal man alighted at the next stop, whether because it was his stop or because he’d had enough. As he walked down the aisle, the wumman had a go at him again. He shrugged it off – “I’ve fuckin divorced worse than you,” he told her, and his audience. “Twice!”

It’s nights like that which make me love this city.


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