Bus

So I’m on the 58, the one that swings down the Lea Valley and across East London.  We’re going past the Boleyn pub, at the lights, waiting for the filter so we can turn the corner.  Some guy, Asian, maybe late teens, starts pressing the ringer.  Over and over, not in a pattern, not musically, just over and over, in intermittent bursts.  I turn to get a look at him, my headphones up, I can just about hear the ringer over the Senns.  He’s dead eyed, not smiling, this isn’t even something to laugh about.  He’s just pressing it, over and over, sitting, staring, blankly ahead.  The people he is with half have their hoodies up, half down.  The 58 stops up near  Sam’s, the fried chicken place, and they pile out, talking, massing, in their group.  I think of the guy, nearly grown up, an education (free), all the Maths, the English, the sciences.  Centuries of knowledge at his fingertips.  The hours spent on him, the opportunities.  I think of all that he’s had the chance to learn and about how he’s sitting here, on a rainy Spring evening, balmy outside, ringing a bell over and over so that the other passengers are set on edge, so that the driver’s already mundane job gets worse, all for what?  He’s not even smiling, this isn’t a joke.  It’s to be cool, it’s a statement, it’s look at me.  Look over at me, aren’t I something different?  I think of the human race.  It’s the start of an anecdote: there’s this guy, right, just sat there, he was pressing a ringer, over and over, but there’s no punchline and I feel profoundly sad and depressed, maybe for him, maybe for us all, as I head out to the pelican crossing by the Blockbuster and put my umbrella down so I can jog across the road before the lights change —

100 Days

Wrapping this up then. 

*

AAAL2010 was good, in parts.  The conference was busy, but long.  Good to meet up with the linguistics publishing crowd though (specifically Routledge NY and Palgrave).  We drank microbrew at Max Lager’s and spent a disproportionate amount of time in Gibney’s Irish Pub on Guinness and Sam Adams.  I ate grits and found out that I can do two dinners in one night as long as I put in a comma that consists of a Bud Light.  I sat in a diner and karaoke bar with the guy from OUP and one of the girls at the table next to us fell asleep on the table.  It was around 3am.  I had lunch in a revolving restaurant on the 74th floor.  I saw a Hooters.  I drank a lot of Starbucks coffee.  I went the gym in the mornings.  I had to drink a lot of water.  I listened to Coldplay in the empty conference centre lobby and felt emotional.  I took a picture of a huge line of chilli sauces in Gyro’s Greek fast food place.  I bought some moonshine.  I went to the land-locked Georgia Aquarium and we later heard the recorded announcements in the Centennial Park declaim ‘no horseplay’ near the water jets.  We invented some improbably backstory whilst people watching.  I saw lots of tall buildings and I pondered driving to work and beers and platters in Max Lager’s after the office with my new Georgia county colleagues, all dressed in beige slacks and belts with visible stitching and rounded buckles.  A beer on a bar sitting on a napkin and my head sinking into my neck as I overdo the soul food every night.  I turn back from the vision and spot the parallels.  I nearly passed out a few times at the stand.  I felt angry at various authors for not stopping by.  I bought lunch from Farmer’s Basket but didn’t pick up a knife and mashed it all with a fork.  I ate a lot of cake.  I drank a lot.  I drank too much.  It took me nearly 2 calendar days to get home from rising to getting back to the flat.

*

#95 Anticipation – the wobbly feeling, the raise in heartbeat, the flood of endorphins.  Bad when you’re at desk.  But the primal instinct in the R-stem kicks in wherever you are.
#96 In-flight movies.
#97 Grits.  Southern breakfasts, Western omelettes but with GRITS.
#98 Determination to see a hangover through without paracetemol.
#99 Sam Adams
#100 Excellent humourous banter

100 Days

#82 Anthony Newman needs to slot in here somewhere – excellent email banter and a genuinely incisive mind.
#83 SP – my number 1 drinking buddy.
#84 Tea.  A lot is said about coffee, its flavours and preparation, but what about tea?  A teabag and some milk and sometimes it does the job that no other drink can do.  Excellent when hungover and best at its hottest so that you have blow onto it a little bit.
#85 Online shopping.
#86 Sweetcorn.
#87 Peas.
#88 Home cooked dinners that are not covered in orange breadcrumbs.
#89 Hazelnut flavoured coffee in the mornings.
#90 Lazy Saturdays.
#91 An anecdote at chez Mattu.
#92 Smoked haddock.
#93 Lunchtime on the South Bank on sunny days.
#94 Remember fragments of quotes.  Like that Drive is the soundtrack playing in De Niro’s head as a old man or something like that.