Tag Archives: bus

The man on the Dublin omnibus

As I have virtually no time to write a blog today, here is an extract from my diary on this day in 1999. I was working at television station RTÉ in Dublin. I have changed the names:

Siobhan started talking about how her 10-year-old son who, she says, is uncoordinated with absolutely no sense of direction. Then she got a tea and some toast on a plate and sat down on the settee in Reception; she put the plate on the arm of the settee but was unable to hold the cup without spilling tea, so had to stand up: co-ordinating a cup in her hand while sitting static on a couch was too much for her.

We went into the RTÉ canteen at around 1115 and it was full. Apparently everyone takes a 30-minute tea-break at 1100 and a 30-minute tea-break at 1530, as well as their one-hour lunch break.

Siobhan told me that, last night, she dreamt she had run away from RTÉ and from her family and become a freelance earning a lot of money. She met film star Tom Cruise (to whom she claimed she’d never particularly been attracted before this dream) and he was very interested in how much she earned.

Over lunch, Sean told a story about someone he knew who, when in a bus which stopped next to another at traffic lights would attract the attention of a passenger in the other bus, then motion as if he knew and wanted to contact the person sitting in front of the stranger. Invariably, the stranger would tap the shoulder of the person in front, who would turn round and Sean’s friend would turn his head to look directly forward as if he had never even noticed the other bus let alone encouraged one stranger to tap another’s shoulder.

Taking off from Dublin Airport late, at about 2140, I had a window seat and, over England, I could see all the towns and cities below me: electronic spiders’ web nerve centres spreading delicate orange fibres outwards into a sea of blue-grey black.

Arriving back home in Borehamwood, I found a postcard from David Jenkins. It showed: “Oil platforms and the Cromarty Firth at dusk”…. That’s what comes of being a Socialist like David. You think postcards of Albanian electricity sub-generating stations are glamorous.

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Yesterday I met a man from Atlantis who speaks Japanese

For ages, I have thought there was mileage in a Real People chat show on TV – if you go to any bus queue in any town in Britain and choose any person at random then, with the right questions, that person will reveal the most extraordinary life story.

Life truly is stranger than fiction. Novels are very often watered-down versions of the truth and they have been watered-down simply to make them believable.

I was reminded of this when I was passing through the food department of Selfridges in Oxford Street yesterday and I was offered a free tea sample by a Greek-Bulgarian sales specialist working for the East India Company which was bought by an Indian entrepreneur in 2005 and which opened a shop in London’s West End last year. It turned out the tea-offerer was from the island of Santorini (claimed by some to be the origin of the legend of Atlantis). He told me he spoke six languages including Japanese and Scots Gaelic – which he then proceeded to do.

Speak Gaelic.

It is a tad odd to have a Greek-Bulgarian from Atlantis who works for the East India Company (given its charter by Queen Elizabeth I in 1600) speak Gaelic to you when you are passing through the food department of Selfridges department store.

To surprise me, it would have been enough for him, as a Greek-Bulgarian, just to work for the fabled East India Company because I hadn’t realised it had been re-born.

While being one of the most successful commercial companies ever to exist –  at its height, the company allegedly generated half of world trade and it established Singapore and Hong Kong as trading centres – it also effectively ruled India with its own army on behalf of the British government 1757-1858 and virtually built the British Empire by monopolising the Opium Trade – it was responsible both for the Opium Wars and the Indian Mutiny!

That Indian entrepreneur – Sanjiv Mehta – who bought the name in 2005 and re-started the company last year is a near genius. People are buying recognisable brand names for millions of pounds/dollars all over the world and the East India Company must be one of the most famous names worldwide – it has been around for 411 years – though I’m not sure trade with China will be easy!

So it would have been enough for the tea-offerer, as a Greek-Bulgarian, just to work for the fabled East India Company but, good heavens – perhaps you had to be there – a Greek-Bulgarian who works for the East India Company, comes from the original Atlantis and speaks Gaelic! What are the odds of that combination happening? If you wrote a novel with a character like that in it, people would laugh at how stupid you were for including such a literally incredible character…

What price a Real People chat show?

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