Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Bus Blind opens my eyes

My friend Strange David stopped by to tell me that his reaction to losing a fair portion of his wealth in the recent bankers benefit drive, was to buy a Jag. Black of course. (A couple of years ago he had managed to acquire Sid Barrett's bread bin. I have a feeling his Star Wars action figures will appreciate faster, but a bread bin with connections has a certain je ne sais quoi, and must be a lifesaver when dinner conversation drags.)

Having let me sit in the Jag and make vroom vroom noises (which I thought was my birthday gift) David then presented me with a large cardboard tube which contained . . . . . a bus blind! - an obscure item that at first promised a similar cachet to a bread bin.

But this was not just any old bus blind. It was a Birmingham bus blind, and as I unrolled it, familiar destination names tumbled out in wild profusion. "Bearwood," "Bilston" and "Brierly." "Smethwick," "Sutton Coldfield" and "Not in Service."

Then the gems. "Kings Heath" - where I went to school - "Via Sparkbrook" Sparkbrook, where the Greek owner of the mythically fearful El Sombrero espresso bar had leaped over the counter and cut the throat of a Ted.

"Deritend." The Midland Jazz Club in the old Town Hall, Saturday night, but first two devastating pints of cheap cider in Kelsey's to avoid jazz club beer prices. The immediate effect is your fuzzily thrown dart sticks in the hand of a large Irishman, slow to remove his from the board. You feared the worse, but he pulled out the dart from his huge hand and politely handed it back. Phew.

"Heartlands Hospital" - my mother had been rushed there after her stroke and I rushed there a few days later from the USA. I was going through my rebellious stage a bit late (51 I think), and my hair was trying to be like Sam Elliot's in Roadhouse, but at least it hid the ear ring. Ed Zak thought I looked like an ugly old woman, but the elderly patient by the door of Mom's ward in the smoking alcove recognized me. "You're Mrs Whitworth's son aren't yer. From America. Well get yer bleedin' hair cut or you'll give 'er another stroke."

The memories went on for another fifty feet. "Now that's art," I said.

And it is.

The wall to the left of where I work is eighteen feet high. The bus blind now hangs from the top in a vast loop that I can turn - and change my destination.