What really fluffs my Tallulah and pickles my eggs… is when you’re on a long coach journey and your fellow passenger unleashes smelly food from their backpack.
Now having recently taken a long trip which involved a train, a 3 hour-wait, then onto a 4 hour bus ride, they could not have picked a better time to grate my Wensleydale, I kid you not.
When finally spotting a seat which was the equivalent to a 4-star hotel after kipping in the outside Sheffield bus station, I committed myself, as bus partner, to a sleepy lady.
As usual my eyes were firing a search for dreaded crumbs on the seat, but I swallowed down the probability there would be some stranger’s debris resting there. Let’s also mention this seat was next door to the toilet which was 3 steps down in where you’d be lucky to still have your bum cheeks in tact on your return.
Me, being me, when I gut-wrenchingly needed to pee, squatted so not to touch the toilet seat, because as it reeked of stale piss, I was sure going to have some of that on me if I made contact with. Falling backwards and using elbows to keep myself up (why I thought elbows would be less prone to being contaminated than my other body parts, I still don’t know…) I got out what I needed, only to then realise there was no soap in the handwash pump. Oh-oh.
Not knowing how to survive this, I held my breath, flushed, got back to my seat and squirted anti-bacterial gel on my hands like it was unlimited free liquid gold.
So when you’re getting in sleepy down-time mode, as I desperately was at 1.45AM on this bussing adventure, I imagined neutral surroundings. Closing my eyes, it was signal ‘sleepy time’ and soon I may arrive in London.
It was quiet. Most people’s heads were bobbing. And I had my very own seat which made me feel like I’d set up camp for the journey, I had my own little portable home. That did nicely too.
Neutral… I rest my eyes… lovely. I can do this. We can relax.
Boom. As though a match had just been lit, the orange flame expanding in a millisecond, chicken hit my nostrils. Seasoned chicken – I sensed peri-peri, maybe Cajun. My bus partner had unleashed her snacks like a forest fire.
Come on love… that category of snack belongs to the 12pm-10pm slot, possibly even 10am +. But bloody 2am?! My eyes don’t know whether we’re in dreamland with a slow, gentle tide, or partying on a beach in Jamaica. Don’t confuse the poor buggars.
And. Just. To. Make. Things. Worse. The lovely lady, as expected needed to also experience the toilet torment experience so I stepped into the bus aisle to let her through.
All is well.
She returns, I step out again. SHE HOLDS ON TO MY SEAT (quite with some grip, I must tell you) to pull herself over to hers. Bearing in mind the handwash was out of order and therefore my bum was about to make contact with lingering air particles of peri-peri chicken?!?!
Utterly speechless in my own little travelling world, all I could do to try and save myself just a bit was to pull and tug my hoodie as far underneath my bum and over my legs as it would allow.
I may as well have been able to see the smell as a physical object, there like fluorescent slime on my seat. I’m no snob, although you may think alternatively after reading this, but when it comes to food and smells, it’s a very private affair.
You’d think it would get better (at least it didn’t get worse) but no sooner than later, the barbecue beef crisps were out! All I could think of was crumbs, crumbs, aaaagghh. What if there were miniscule particles flaking off as she bit into them landing on me? What was there to do?
I was kind of glad she threw me in the deep end. Because my tolerance levels were on high alert, I was quite ready to burst through my cheeks with steam.
But I arrived in London, safely, with no visible crumbs. Most probably invisible peri-peri ones though, I just made sure not to smell myself. Even if logically, I couldn’t smell it, I think I’d convince myself that I could. And then I’d have to throw myself in the River Thames.