Idly leafing through a copy of Private Eye I found on the seat of the bus I was on. The classifieds:
hypnotherapy helps. Tel 01703 216 193
two frightened, elderly single vulnerable ladies desperately need help regarding a bullying neighbour. Reply Box 181775
Mobile Phone Investigations: spy phones; text message retrievals, names and addresses from mobile numbers and more. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The idea of hacking into my ex girlfriend’s email account or her phone messages was crossing my mind in a flippant hypothetical fashion when I looked down and saw her walking past the Royal Academy.
By the time I arrived down on the lower deck and stood by the closed door I had lost sight of her. The bus was stuck in traffic. It was shuddering like a fat animal that’s just been shot by a tranquilliser dart. I stole a glance at my fellow passengers who seemed in their wary insulation like a congregation of creatures of a different species, momentarily forced to share the same habitat. I’m not an assertive person. You either have to expect to get your own way to be assertive or enjoy not getting your own way. I’m not quite sure where I stand in this equation. But I find it impossible to raise my voice in a crowd. I did not therefore shout out to the driver a request to open the doors. I imagined he would ignore any such request with a silent look of disdain. And I, providing a momentary reprieve from the deathly boredom of commuting, would become the focus of attention for all the passengers. There was only so much disdain my self-esteem could take in a day, so I kept my mouth shut. I succumbed to a moment’s wistful nostalgia for the old red buses of the past that you could hop on and off at will. Instead here was a door I could not open with my own hands. How smugly proud we are of our new-found freedoms in the West – always bragging about them and trying to export them further afield – and yet every year some sly little technological theft of our autonomy is surreptitiously introduced into everyday life. I mean, what better definition of prison is there than an enclosed space whose door you can’t open with your own hands?