Imagine the scene:
I'm hanging at the bus stop with my crew: Jo, Mo, Flo* and Allan**. We are the Freedom Bus Pass Gang; twice a week we gather at 9.35am to wait for the 657 bus to take us into town. (It used to be the 620 but Uno, the bus company, recently changed it to the 657 and now it comes 8 minutes later. No don't ask, because we don't know either.)
The crew are OK about the fact that I write letters to the local paper as they all know I am the co-founder of Harpenden Independent Partnership and chair of a community action group trying to stop the local town council from selling our urban green space to a developer. Thus I fire off a lot of what I like to think of as wry, witty, urbanely Swiftian epistles which always get published in our local paper.
This is because the editor knows my stuff will generate rude responses from people with humorectomies and irony bypasses who live in the posh bits of town, and see no reason why our urban green space shouldn't be covered in tarmac and Tesco School of Architecture housing because hey, it isn't their urban green space. Over the years I've developed quite a following, and am apparently referred to colloquially and locally as 'the redhead who writes those letters'.
But the crew also know that there is a darker, more perplexing side to what I do, known as 'The Writing', words usually uttered in the same cautious tone of voice that one might use for other words like 'shark' or 'cockroach'. Thus it is that Jo eventually plucks up courage and asks, 'How's The Writing going then, Carol?'
And that's when it happens. Without even thinking, I sigh deeply, roll my eyes and say: 'Had to cancel my Facebook launch as I lost my Wifi. And then Google spammed my blog so I had to go into a chat room and talk to a techie, and I had to download an app to sort it out.'
There follows a long silence that hangs around in the air in the way that bricks don't. The crew study the ground carefully. Then Flo murmurs, 'Didn't understand a word of that, sorry.' And Allan agrees. And Jo and Mo step away from me as if I might infect them with whatever I've got. And then thankfully for all concerned, the bus arrives. We scramble on board, showing our passes to the cheerful Polish lady bus driver.
Nobody sits next to me all the way into town.
* Names changed to protect their identity.
** This is his real name.