Rarely do I discuss my evening commute – the journey where I return to civilisation, from the armpit of Ireland – the industrial suburbs of Dublin. Perhaps it is because my heart is lighter – the workday is over and I have an evening to spend, as I see fit. There’s no sense of looming doom at this time. My spirit is lighter. In the evening I look on my fellow passengers with more goodwill and less fear (speaking of which it’s worth noting that Bruiser and Beyoncé are never on the evening bus).
There are some regulars on the evening journey.
Firstly and most frequently is the annoying Greek. Please don’t misunderstand me – I love Greece as a country; its people are wonderful; its food is magnificent. Many is the trip I have made to that land. I cannot praise it highly enough.
But this dude on the bus? Has he no idea about how annoying his voice is? He looks pleasant enough, but when I see him at my stop of an evening, my heart sinks. He talks incessantly. Sitting beside his Polish work colleague he begins. It is utterly relentless. I am surprised his colleagues doesn’t tell him to zip it. His voice is low and nasal. But it penetrates the atmosphere like a sabre. A growling nasally whine. And his stories are always the same – the dreary tales of his efforts to get a good deal on a flight; and about how clever he is at sourcing these bargains. About how Ireland is his third country, in three years – having recently arrived from Malta where he worked previously. He may be a pleasant enough person, but has no-one ever told him that it’s good manners not to bellow when having a private conversation in public? That it’s a sign of human decency to let your companion get a word in occasionally?
And then there’s Gobnait. For anyone outside of Ireland, Gobnait (pronounced Gubnet) is an Irish language name that was in widespread use in the nineteenth century. But rarely is it used in modern times. It evokes images (in my mind anyway) of toothless old crones, dressed all in black, smoking a pipe, wearing a shawl, in a country cottage where the electricity supply has yet to arrive, and where indoor plumbing is only for people with notions. And Protestants.
My Gobnait is a business executive however. Who engages in executive business calls. With business colleagues. In a business like tone. On the bus.
She’s a sharp dresser, in a well tailored business suit. I only see her occasionally but she invariably has a roller travel case, making it seem like she has just come from an exotic, high-powered business meeting In Slough.
Like the Greek, Gobnait has a nasal speaking voice. Unlike the Greek, she converses only on the telephone. She discusses the candidates (what candidacy? – I have no idea); their merits; the case numbers; the projected outcome.
All on the crowded bus.
It seems a bit incongruous to me. To be wheeling and dealing downstairs on a grimy double decker Dublin Bus. Surely Gobnait should be backseat in a town-car with blackout windows. And never remove her shades, as she plots hostile takeovers of rival companies?
I hope Gobnait and the Greek’s eyes never meet across the crowded gangway. If I had to listen to them have a conversation with each other, I am almost certain I would start to cry.