DurAnorak (duranorak) wrote,

That must have been another of your dreams

It was that Monday where the combination of a bit of snow and a lot of ice froze the roads and, apparently, the entire south London public transport system. I got on my bus after leaving work at five, and I stayed on that same bus for four hours, until it terminated at Peckham Rye, at which point I left it to discover that all buses were terminating at Peckham Rye. The trains, apparently, weren't a whole lot better, and I realise I should have given up before it got to the four hour mark, but I kept thinking that it had to improve after x or y turning and anyway, the upshot of it was that, stranded in Peckham at nine in the evening, asrana rang and told me to come over to hers, where it was warm and there was tea.

This involved getting a bus back in the other direction, and waiting at Elephant & Castle for a bus to Waterloo. I was minding my own business - and I really mean that, I was quietly watching Korean music television on my iPod and not even looking at the road, when a voice next to me said, "Been waiting long, have you?" I thought, aha, here is some other poor lost soul condemned to waiting in the freezing cold; we shall exchange pleasantries, and then move on with our lives. Then I looked up.

You know how sometimes all it takes is one look at somebody before you know you're in for a conversation that is never going to end until you physically take your leave of it? That. He didn't exactly look completely mad, but sometimes you just know, so I resignedly answered explaining how long it had taken me to get from work to there. He said, "Call me politically incorrect." He then waited for me to do so. I obliged; "You're politically incorrect. What?"
"I think it's all those foreign bus drivers they have nowadays." Of course you do, I thought, trying to place his accent, which was so upper-class I wondered briefly whether I might not be talking to a very lost minor royal. Very lost; he was wearing a flat cap over his shock of white hair and, for some reason, a high visibility jacket. "You see," he continued, "They come from very hot countries, all those warm places, and they're frightened of the snow."

We stood and looked at each other for a moment. I don't know what he was thinking; I was envisioning the cause of the traffic chaos being every single bus driver suddenly simultaneously looking out of the windows, screaming, and abandoning their buses full of passengers to run off into the night in terror. I think perhaps that isn't what happened. "Which bus are you waiting for?" he asked, and I told him. He proceeded to stop every single bus that went past, by stepping into the road and shouting, "HALT!". He would then climb aboard the bus and say in strident tones, "This young woman would like to enquire as to whether you will be stopping at Waterloo." None of them were; this would lead to him calling, "He's not!" over his shoulder to me and then dismounting. After three attempts to stop him I gave up, since no amount of explaining that I knew which buses were going where seemed to discourage him from his mission.

Finally, my bus pulled up, and I got on - and so did he, at which point I suddenly realised he wasn't alone - he was accompanied by a much older woman, who followed him to sit, inevitably, across from me. He indicated her, and introduced her as "Mummy" and himself as "Frederick", so I replied in kind and then he asked me what I was listening to. I hadn't been, as it goes, but I gave my stock answer of Duran Duran, and to my astonishment he burst out with, "Ah, The Reflex!", gave a sage nod, and added, "Fle-fle-fle-fle-flex!"
"And." He snapped his fingers, and pointed at me. "And the one where her name is Rio!"
"...yes. That's right."

"Who else do you like?"
"...Japan?" I was pretty sure that would stump him. Not so. "David Sylvian!" he replied enthusiastically, "Now, he was voted the most beautiful man in the world, wasn't he? As much as that means. Who else?"
It was at this point, before I could offer the Human League or John Foxx or something, that his mother seemed to notice what was going on around her and began to yell, "Who are you talking to, Freddie? Freddie, I'm over here, I can't hear what you're saying when you talk over there!" whilst hitting him frantically on the shoulder. "Mummy, I'm talking to this lady on my left," he explained patiently, which was met with the unassailable logic of, "Well, why don't you try talking to me? I'm on your right!"

Mercifully, we reached Waterloo at this point, and I got up to leave the bus and turned to bid him goodnight. By the point of my meeting him, the evening had gone through 'disastrous' and into 'hysterical', in that way these things do, so I was pretty much grateful to him for providing hilarity more than anything else. He gave me a knowing look and said, "YouTube! Look up 'the trouble with mother'." I laughed, thinking he was making a point about how impossible his mother was being, but promised I would as soon as I got online, and as I got off the bus he called after me, "And look up 'waitress accident'! 'The trouble with mother', and 'waitress accident'!"

Naturally the first thing I did when I finally got to asrana's, after gratefully accepting some tea, was to look up 'the trouble with mother' and 'waitress accident'. It turns out that The Trouble With Mother is a TV programme the BBC showed this autumn - about him, and his mother. It's here. Among other things, it's about her obsessive collecting of junk, how Wagner is the key to a happy life, and love letters from the 1920s.

'Waitress accident' is a video of a waitress closing up, tripping on something, and going head first through a plate glass window.
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