The Way Young Lovers Do

Public transport is a cruel and evil form of mobile hell, in which one is forced to be surrounded by people at the very time of day when one least wants to be surrounded by people.

Yesterday the girl with the Justin Timberlake ringtone was in the midst of a lover’s quarrel with someone perhaps attempting contact whilst buried under an avalanche, such was the quality of the phone’s reception:

“Nooo. Wha? … I’m not arguing… Wha? No fuck youuu… Wha? … Wha? … I’m on the bus… Wha? … the BUS!”

The guy beside me was searching for his ears beneath the long greasy ropes of his hair. Once found, he jammed his earphones in and cranked up the volume to the maximum.

My blood began to simmer. When listening to music in public, it’s not difficult to check the volume before you put your earphones in to see if it’s audible to those around you. If so, you can decrease the volume accordingly. Or if you’re a jerky jerkface, you can just turn it up even louder to ensure the whole bus enjoys your bellowing Radio One DJ or obscure Scandinavian metal band.

“Wha? I’ll see you at home… HOOOME. Wha? Go to hell.”

I stood up and smacked the STOP bell. To hell with this bewheeled torture chamber! I’d paid £33 a month for unlimited travel on Lothian Buses. If this bus was so determined to shit me, I would simply get on a different one!

After ten minutes sulking in the afternoon drizzle, another bus came by. I was greeted by the unmistakable stench of the Great Unwashed. But I was willing to tolerate that for a few moments of silence. I sat back and noticed how this particular route was always full of elderly men with huge ears, curved and creviced like ashtrays.

I was dozing off when a young couple came clattering up the aisle, they couldn’t have been more than 14. They plonked down across from me and dropped their shopping bags. He carefully pushed back the hood of her regulation fur-trimmed parka and they commenced a furious snog session.

When you’re the one in the midst of a kiss, it sounds like heaven. Sweet or soft or sexy; the memory of it can keep you floating for days. But when you’re not involved, a kiss is one of the most irritating noises in the world. The sound of someone else’s smacking lips and clonking teeth makes the stomach scream in protest. I pulled my beanie down harder over my ears as he excavated traces of Irn-Bru and chip crumbs from her gums.

After ten minutes they stopped, and the boy spoke in nasal tones.

“Scratch my back would ya babe?”


“I’m itchy. Below my shoulder. Lower. Aww yeah, that’s it.”


“Bit more to the left. Aww yeah. You’re the best babe.”

The slurping resumed with renewed vigour for a good four stops, until the girl’s mobile rang. You could almost hear their merged saliva stretch out and snap like mozzarella on a pizza as they reluctantly parted lips.

“Hello? Who?… Eh? … What you want? … I’m on the bus… THE BUS… Noo, I’m on my own… I’m on my ooown…. Fine.”


Slurp slurp.

Breathless recap.

“So that was Douglas. Me phone rang and I said like Hello? and he’s like It’s Douglas and I’m like Who? and he says Douglas and I’m like Eh? What you want? and he’s like Where are you? and I’m like I’m on the bus and he’s like Where? THE BUS I said and he’s like, Is Kyle with you? and I’m like Noo, I’m on my own and he’s like, Suuuure, and I’m like, I’m on my ooown, and he’s like, I’m going, so I’m like, Fine.”

Slurp slurp slurp.

My fingers itched to hit the STOP button again, but all immediate exits were blocked by old geezers with satellite dish ears. I scratched at the vinyl seat and tried to ignore the din. Instead I focused on the man in front, admiring the way he’d artfully arranged his remaining hairs in a spiral around his spotty red scalp.

Slurp slurp.

I was brooding over the realisation that I’d have been home twenty minutes ago if I’d stayed on the first bus, when the bell rang. The scrawny Casanova dragged his girl down the aisle.

“Let’s go babe. I’m bursting on a piss.”

About Shauna Reid

Ahoy there! I’m Shauna, an author, copywriter and content mentor. I love telling stories about life and helping others to tell theirs.

Find out more about me and how we can work together – I’m now booking for December 2020.

25 thoughts on “The Way Young Lovers Do

  1. Obscure Scandinavian band?! As a Scandinavian myself, I resent that. keep your ears and eyes open for my “Olaf and The Smorgasbords” coming to a radiostation near you, any day now. ANY DAY NOW!

  2. Ah yes, the joys of public transport. My current fave is the crazed booner-chick who works for CityRail who makes weird announcememnts on the PA system at Central. Yesterday she was alternately shouting out, “Do NOT run towards the closing doors of the train.” reciting the stations in a really annoying sing-song voice and when someone finally shouted “Shut Up!” she said, and I kid you not, “Bite your bum.” Over the PA. At Central.

  3. This is the reason I take the iPod on the train (and yes I check that I don’t have it at ear-splitting volume). It’ usually enough to allow me to close my eyes and concentrate on my music.

    On the other hand, ain’t people watching fun!

  4. You’re reminding me why I hate people. I do find that if I have a REALLY good book I can usually tune out – but mostly I spend my time devising the tortures I would carry out on annoying people on trains.

  5. That was a great write up. Very funny. I wrote my own thoughts on public transportation in London but it’s not as good as yours.

  6. Takmarka›ur sætafjöldi í hverju flugi. Ef vi›takandi gjafakortsins getur ekki n‡tt sér fer›ir á ?essu tímabili, ?á má nota ver›gildi ess!!!

  7. Huge ears, curved and creviced like ash trays.

    Fantastic. Seriously. Its worth poppoing here every week or so just to pick up those little diamonds.

    By the way white saab turbo convertible. Its true I am a wanker….

  8. I sincerely hope I haven’t bollocksed anything up here – if I have, then I’ve backed up.

    Oh, this marvelous, wonderful, beautiful, stunning post of shauny’s?

    No comment.

  9. Has anyone you don’t know ever bought you something from your Amazon wish list? It’s a devilishly intriguing method of accumulating consumer goods, but don’t you worry that you may be encouraging stalkers and other members of the unhinged community?

  10. whenever i’m in the train, i always get the feeling that nobody ever wants to talk to anybody. they all bury their noses in newspapers or bury their ears in their music, shutting out the world. was there ever a time when you would get on the train and start talking to each other – virtual strangers?

  11. Goddam. Now that I am carless here in Seattle, all I can say is that young love is universal. Necking on the bus is just as irritating in an American accent.

    Check your yahoo email, I sent ya something! 🙂

  12. I hate public transport, but when I’m working in Victoria, it’s all I have. Luckily most of my bus trips are fairly short.

    Don’t you feel like grabbing both of their heads and just hebanging them together? Maybe that’s my violent side showing through again…

  13. You’re alive!! 🙂 I had no idea where you went after your old site went down Shauny, since the page kept loading a 404 for me, just found you again now via Momo Freaks Out. Glad you’re still around, yours is the only blog I’ve actually kept reading for the past two years – now that’s quality 😉

  14. You know I am strange, I love all that stuff, I would not trade my public transport time for anything.
    Much to the disgust of everyone I insist on talking to complete strangers no and then.
    I was raised in a small town and everyone talked to everyone. And I have found that inside most people is a person that wants to communicate.
    Unfortunately not all have something interesting to say! 🙂

  15. Oh dear.. Lothian Buses won’t be getting a Xmas card next year then eh Shawnie bear? ;o)
    Great to see you’ve lost none of your passion from noting down life’s minutae… I gobbled/read it all sooo greedily!
    You’re one of a kind, and no mistake… I’d love to be rich and unhinged enough to buy you that Ipod.. or have you finally got one now? :o)

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