The Real Madrid: CENTRAL LONDON — FINSBURY PARK BY 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.
Y1: You fool, man. The initials are RM.
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.