london madrid bus


Journey. A 40 minute bus ride.

The scene. It’s around 1am, on the Night Bus. I’m sat on the lower deck.

Describe your fellow traveller. A group of three kids around 19, all male.

The review. The in-bus conversation was just a delight. I sat near the back, just in front of the group, who were treating the passengers some improvised rap. The names have been omitted as I never found them out. Youth 1 had just let rip with a stream of rhyming couplets, within which I could only make out choice phrases such as “dirty ho’s” and “stretch li-mo’s”, a lifestyle which he seemed to enjoy on his other nights out, when he wasn’t taking the bus. He ended intriguingly, referring to a possible assignation in the far east that he had enjoyed: “Cruisin’ around, lookin’ to get laid, just like doin’ it downtown in HK…”

Y1: Work it out, man! It’s a place. In Asia.

Y2: Is it in Europe?

Y1: No. In Asia. I think it used to be in Europe, innit?

Y3: It’s like Helsinki, or summat?

Y1: No, man, it’s like in Kung Fu movies, stylish an’ all that…

Y1: There’s a cartoon. HK, man. Think!

This inspired the group to embark on abbreviating other cities, and start a charming parlour game that would prove to be a fascinating diversion. It entailed a highly-charged battle of wits:

Y1: No, man, it ain’t!

Y2: I ain’t even told you yet! OK, It’s in Europe.

Y3: Rome.

Y1: You fool, man. The initials are RM.

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Y3: Rotterdam, innit?

Y2: It’s R! M!

Y1: Is it in Asia? Or did it used to be?

Y3: (suddenly inspired) Romania!

Y2: It’s a city! It’s in Europe, innit?

At this point, it’s fair to say that I was pretty stumped, too. Perhaps it was some obscure Balkan principality or a low profile Swedish industrial centre? I hoped the inquisitor would provide us with a meaty clue.

Y2: OK, I’ll give you fools a meaty clue. They’ve got a famous football team.

Y3: It ain’t Rome?

Y2: No, man!

Y3: Roma! That’s how they say it in Italy, innit?

Y2: It ain’t Rome or Roma, man! It’s R M!

Y1: This is BORIN’ me now, man. Just tell us.

Y2: It’s Real Madrid.

Y1/3: (and me, in my mind) WHAT. Shut the fuck up, man!

Y2: Nah, straight up, That’s how they say it in Spanish, innit?

Y1: You’re havin’ a laugh, fool.

Y2: You’re the fool. In Spain, Madrid is called Real Madrid because that’s the REAL name, innit?

Y3: Nah, he’s right, man, I saw it on telly.

Y1: I don’t know. OK, here’s one…M

Sadly, I had to disembark the bus, and I left them to whittle down the mouth-watering possibilities of which city ‘M’ could stand for, or whether they might yet again confuse the name of a city with the name of its football team…

Verdict. Could not have scripted it better. Consumate entertainment.

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