Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Tales From The 62 Bus - Number 2 - West Side Story Glasgow Version

As I am still travelling, here's a lazy post. Following my 'snakes on a bus' experience here's an old tale from the number 62

We were out at a party and when we left it was impossible to get a taxi home as they were all aken. So we decided to wait for a bus. Now, this was a pretty bad idea anyway because after 10pm, Glasgow buses become an alternate universe where people talk to each other (but you
wish they wouldn't) and where no matter which bus you get on, where you're going, or what time after 10pm it is, you'll always be treated to a rendition of My Way ("hand naow, the hend is neeeeeeeeah"), somebody will be lying in the aisle snoring, sporadic fisticuffs will be breaking out at random and the air will be heady with the smell of fish and chips and beery belches.

Now, not only did we get on a bus after 10pm, but what we got was The Last Bus - a Glasgow experience that ranks only with typhoid on the list of Things To Be Avoided At All Costs. But there you go. We got on it. It was really crowded, so we had to stand up. And we immediately discovered a pitched battle going on between the front of the bus and the back of the bus. The main reason for this as we understood it (given that no-one was in the remotest bit comprehensible) was that someone at the back of the bus was ringing the bell over and over.

It was like The Sharks and The Jets. At the back of the bus was a group of neds in flammable shellsuits, and at the front was a group of elderly ladies who appeared to have put on sequins to go to the bingo. Both groups had been drinking heavily. Light the blue shellsuit and retire. I thought I'd stepped into a particularly Scottish version of West Side Story.

The air was thick with quaint anglo-saxon terminology - most of it, it has to be said coming from the elderly bingo-goers. Most of the insults I couldn't repeat here, but there's one which is a typically Glaswegian one which sounds innocuous but, when delivered with the right amount of sneering venom, is like a red rag to a bull "Hey you, ya tube". I'll leave you to imagine the rest. The neds were more or less restricting themselves to "You're not ma maw", "Naw, she's yer granny", and "Gie yersel' peace Methuselah" (this particular one was followed by a few moments silence as everyone digested the name, until someone piped up "Was Methuselah no' that baldy-heeded bampot who used tae play fer Dundee United?")

By this time, everyone on the bus had joined in the slanging match. The bloke standing (I use the term advisedly since he was swaying all over the place) next to us, was shouting over and over again at the top of his voice "Shut the f*** up ya wee nyaffs". I wasn't quite sure whether he was talking to The Neds or The Sequins and I don't think he did either. I, on the other hand, just wanted to sing "I feel pretty, Oh so pretty, I feel pretty and witty and gay, And I pity any girl who isn't me today", and then see the two halves of the bus break out into spontaneous dance, or at the very least, stand up without staggering. Meanwhile, in all this madness, the phantom belldinger of old Glasgow town was still at it.

The bus stopped and I looked out of the window. Hang on, this wasn't a scheduled bus stop. This was the police station. Excellent. Of all the crimes being committed all over Glasgow last night, we were in the middle of probably the most heinous. I could just see the headlines the next morning "Glasgow Revellers in Bus Bell Drama".


  1. Any idea how "ya tube" came about? I gather tube is pronounced tchoob. A strange word to mean fool.

  2. Mack - I have no idea! It sounds so innocuous written down but flung at you in a Glasgow accent, with accompanying glare, it can be scary :o)

  3. You lead such an exciting life! Now I definitely won't go anywhere near Glasgow.

  4. Aw bookwitch - you spoilsport!