Unashamed, he holds his spot using my letter which he hands over once the transaction has been completed. “Here Hera”, he smiles. I snatch it. I call it a letter but it’s more of a statement. Hairy Arse’s silent companion looks at me sympathetically as I drop the statement red letter. It’s from the bank. Their statement is ‘I’m overdrawn’. I look at my watch. Hairy Arse deserves something but it’s not thanks. Outside, the remaining part of the front garden crawls with the debris from the lower wall. A newly appointed basement will soon accommodate yet another London rent tenant. I rush to the bus stop and wait for the 134. The 134 arrives unexpectedly but a man gets in my way just long enough for him to catch a black cab and for me to miss my bus. His choice is all the more grating given I have to get the bus. Finances dictate my mode of travel not choice. That and the ridiculous people who allege to serve me poverty.
Opposite, the three monolithic towers of doom loom over my fate. The arrival of the bus will now determine the rate of my losses. I am 40 minutes late. My temp wages will get yet another whack from Maurice, the rotund robot accountant at Cushy, the head hunting firm for staff writers. I get on the bus in a daze as I clamber past other professional bus users. Inside, I scramble to get to my favourite, the top deck window seat. A hideous individual took away my beloved red Routemaster buses. Yes, I dislike you each time I see anything but the Routemaster buses. Nostalgia is supposed to be something you do when you are old or before you die. I have to ask why I’m turning into outrage of Tunbridge Wells. I am, no, I’m really a well disguised sophisticated, multicultural, multimedia urban Londonite but I’m just a poorly paid pun. What is wrong with me?
I used to read books, write poetry and play music. I know this happens to other people but this is me, my life is not meant to be like this. Once upon a time, I was free of the befores and afters of the world. I certainly wasn’t worried if the bus would arrive on time before work and what would happen after it didn’t. Naturally, I got told off for being late and landing in mischief but all matters were instantly forgotten by me. I was what everyone called a ‘now’ child. At least until some silly adult interrupted playtime to ask what I did yesterday or what would I like to be when I grew up? It suddenly strikes me that ‘before’ is a strange word. I split up the word to get a handle of it in my head as suddenly it seems to be the most meaningless word in the world. To ‘be’ and the verb ‘being’ sound so satisfyingly content in comparison to the ‘fore’, which has a fraught past. Without the ‘e’, it is ‘for’, for whom or what? Something or someone else I suspect. The word ‘for’ I believe generates an expectation. And expectations usually come from other people. I must rid myself of expectations before they worm their way into me way out beyond the 134 bus. Thankfully my thoughts terminate at Tottenham Court Road bus station. I am in sync with a bus termination point. I come out and am met by yet another tall tower, Centrepoint, albeit more agreeable. I also seem to be followed around by London’s highly contagious drilling works.
No one at Cushy notices I am late apart from Maurice. I wonder if anyone would even notice my absence if the copying and filing was left to accumulate like the almond croissant’s in Maurice’s rotund belly. I have missed the expensive frappy crappy coffee run but everyone is too busy discussing their end of year salary statements. I hear a few oohs and ohs about bonuses from some of the beautiful angels in the office where as there will be no mutual interests coinciding with the arrival of my weekly cheque. I fill in my time sheet and stare at Maurice while my mind wanders back to the bank statement. Last year, a cleaner told me that someone in the office told her I worked very hard for a temp. I explained to my then boyfriend, Dylan that I work hard because I like to leave Cushy by 6pm to catch the 134 and eat dinner before 8 because late night eating makes me sick. Dylan thinks I clearly haven’t got the hang of being a temp. Oh Dylan, no thank you for your insights.