11.05.2007

Remember the Fifth of November, Gunpowder, Treason, and Snogs...

It is fitting that on this fifth day of November, my very first Bonfire Night in well over fifteen years, I was transported back in time. This morning I made a distinct tactical error by "experimenting" with my commute to work, and deciding to "give the bus a try." I was by far the oldest person on the thing, the other seats being crammed with every assortment of school-uniformed adolescence you can imagine. Why I did not just poke my head around the door, scan the scene, and promptly opt for the train instead, I'll never know. Instead I paid for my ticket and hauled myself, very stupidly, to the top deck where about 50 teenagers were crammed and getting up to no good whatsoever. I quickly turned around to try my chances with the bottom level, but they'd seen me and cackled at my embarrassment as I made my way down "We're LAFFIN at you, Mrs!" (Yes. I know. Thanks for vocalizing it for me).

So I spied one spare seat and wedged myself next to the poor teenage boy who had clearly been selected as School Pariah, and whose fate was not at all helped by the fact that the practically middle-aged woman sitting next to him was (according to the other kids) "his girlfriend." I sat there with my iPod on, trying to look dignified and pretend I couldn't hear any of them, but their clamour completely drowned out anything I could listen to. So I sat there pretending to listen and took note of how school buses still smell of farts and raging hormones after all these years, how they are still very much that space where pecking orders are established, where language is unutterably foul, and where teenage girls can sit on one anothers' laps and flirt outrageously with the spotty youths who are learning to be men by trying to flirt back and by calling one another "girls" to mitigate the attempts.

"One day" I thought, "One day my sons will be taking this journey, and I won't be here to help them navigate."

It was quite a ride, and not one I intend to repeat any time soon. The school bus must remain a sacrosanct space, and I am much happier on the 8:09 train with all the rest of the bourgy commuters, fiddling with my new blackberry, listening in on phone calls, and reading the paper. If nothing else, it stinks a lot less.

Tonight we will take our boys to their first Bonfire night and teach them the gunpowder, treason and plot rhyme. We'll explain where the tradition comes from, because we'll have freshly googled it during the day. Mummy and Daddy and Fireworks will be the centre of the universe. At least for a little longer.

18 comments:

Julie Pippert said...

How vivid this is. Isn't it funny (so to speak) how even past adolescence, adolescents can trouble us?

Julie
Using My Words

doow said...

Ah yes, how I enjoy that rhyme. Remember, remember the 12th of November. Lots of birthday presents for Sarah.

Birchsprite said...

*giggles at Sarah*

In Northern Ireland Guy Fawkes night wasn't really celebrated... suppose Irish folk wouldn't really celebrate someone FAILING to blow up the British Govt. We loved Halloween though!

Ah the joys of the school bus... when I was at school our bus had to have a police escort for awhile (yep Northern Ireland again!)

SquidgesMum said...

I hope it's not raining!

gingajoy said...

God, Lindy--me too!
Doow--12th of November duly noted;-)

Redneck Mommy said...

You are bringing back horrible nightmares of my commuting past.

As a student, I finally gave up taking the bus in favour of WALKING ten kilometers each direction. It took longer but I didn't have to deal with the pecking order. And my sad place at the bottom of it.

Marmite Breath said...

Joy, this post reminds me of when I was home in May. The kids wanted to go upstairs on the bus because they thought it was fun. I was having flashbacks of smoking up there and being a general pain, but I obliged them.
We go up there and immediately I want to go back downstairs because it was full of yobs and chavs, but I had promised them.
Anyway, my kids were being so loud in their delight. Hadleigh would exclaim, "Oh, Mum, isn't this BEAUTIFUL?" and Tom would chirrup, "Mum, this is the best experience in the world!" and I could feel eyes burning in the back of my head from these people. One of them was an absolutely delightful mother (I'm being sarkie, obviously, since I was in Leicester and there is not much delightful about being upstairs on a bus in Leicester, let's be honest) but during a lull in the conversation, she loudly announces to her seatmate that, "and then I had to bury his FUCKIN' GOLDFISH in the FUCKIN' GARDEN" and my kids looked at me in just wide eyed innocence and I had to resist the urge to throw them out the window to save them from this woman. I mean, (a) my kids are there, keep your voice down, but more importantly, (b) Who buries a fucking goldfish? Don't you just flush the bastard?

We hired a car that afternoon.

PS) It goes without saying that that same woman will probably be spending her bonfire night shoving fireworks up her cat's arse. Such is life on her Estate, I'm sure.

Vicbic said...

Ugh! I hate Manchester Buses!

I am so glad I live near a station now!

Mac and Cheese said...

If nothing else, the bus ride gave you good blog fodder. Pretty funny!

glennia said...

Loved this post. Those kids had no idea that people across the pond are snickering at their stupidity right now. Hee.

mamatulip said...

I was just talking to a friend of mine today about all of the reasons why I loathe public transportation.

Then I came home (in my van, thank god) and read this.

AliBlahBlah said...

God that took me back - beautifully written! My bus ride was all of 5 minutes long and cost 7p. I think that dates me a bit.....

Eleanor said...

Not just a bus ride, a NORTHERN bus ride. This variety of bus is far, far more dangerous. Though the southern bus-rider is more cunning, and vocally more attractive, the northern bus-rider overtly vocalises his or her sexuality or attack plans with the intent of intimidating all around. Often it works. To be avoided at all costs.

(Tip: Never open your mouth and speak on a Northern bus. Should the hunters detect that you are, in fact, from the South you will be officially what is known as 'Done For')

Kit said...

I spent 5th of November trying to explain the joys of Bonfire night to my kids who have grown up so far without any notion of what a Guy is. "so then you burn it?!!" was the astonished response. I think we need a trip back to acquire some British culture for them, too!"

Her Bad Mother said...

I loved that rhyme, even though I had no idea, for the longest time, what it referred to. My Nana used to recite it endlessly every November. I liked the rhythm. I liked it better when I figured out that it had something to do with blowing shit up.

Kelly Malloy said...

Ahhhh! Those terrible teenage years- we have 2 going through those times right now and I'm not sure which is worse - living through them yourself, or watching your kids suffering through them!

BOSSY said...

Bossy wants to tuck in with *your* family.

r4i sdhc said...

Bonfire night and gunpowder, treason and conspiracy to teach poetry. We explain where the tradition comes from, as we will during the day's freshly've googled it. Mom and Dad and crackers will be the center of the universe. For a while at least.