The 104 does a loop, from Stratford, down Green Street, through Upton Park and East Ham, past the Town Hall, up the High Street and then up to Manor Park and Wanstead. From last week’s episode with the boy pressing the buzzer, again and again, in some sort of braggadocio, or just inanity (either/or), we come to this week’s exhibit. The front seat, left hand side, a wet raining evening, someone has left a whole box of fried chicken, fries in there, half eaten, sauce, the greaseproof paper lining. It sits there accusingly.
Just who left this here, and what were they thinking? It’s a bus – it doesn’t matter? Some other person can clean this up? That it doesn’t matter – of course not. That don’t have to wait until one of the many bins, you can just leave it here, this is your gift to TfL and the London bus network. I sat for a while, looking at it. The pointed act of vandalism. The selfishness of the act. The littering; the fact that this is smelly, greasy food that lies where someone will put their feet, maybe after a long day at work, that some cleaner will have to put this in a black bag as they move through another bus on their shift. I know people who have done a job like this; cleaning the Showcase Cinemas. People with oversize fizzy cartons of Coke, spilling it. Popcorn strewn everywhere as if people don’t know where their mouths are. Bits of Dorito. They took home near minimum wage for mopping up after the American-style cinema attendee with his or her guacamole dip, nachos and cheese and Coke, full up and slurping through yet another uninspiring movie designed to pacify, to mollify, the sound turned up and the air con on full to hide the stale smell of food embedded in the seats. Someone took a call once while I was watching a film. Actually took a call.
The bus picks up speed. We’re moving to the next stop. The light from the street lamps makes the wet pavements look incandescent. There’s a fresh smell to the air as the rain falls through it.