The joy of National Express
The Megadeath, The Nazi-onal Express, Cagecoach – they’re all hell on wheels.
As if it wasn’t punishment enough to have to spend five-and-a-half hours sitting in a chair designed for a dwarf amputee, with the person in front leaning so far back they might as well be using my cunt for a cushion, while the person next to me munches through a sandwich that smells like putrefying maggots mixed with cheese and onion crisps, I had the misfortune this weekend of being driven by a total psychopath.
Peter, my Neanderthal National Express driver, was covered in home-drawn tattoos (I didn’t get close enough to read them but I imagine they said stuff like “Live by the road, die by the road”), walked with the kind of limp usually reserved for shell shock victims, drove like a blind man and had a voice like a drain full of tar. When he breathed, it was like a hydraulic engine full of soup.
He steered like someone had just poured molten Marmite on his lap. Which was ironic, really, because as soon as the other driver had taken over, Peter promptly spilt his garage-bought coffee all over his legs and spent the rest of the journey loudly and obscenely rubbing his crotch and arse with a tissue right at my eye level, wheezing on about how "everything is sticking to me legs now".
When the new driver asked Peter why he hadn’t turned his lights on (so we had, in effect, been driving like an invisible 5 tonne stealth juggernaut since Golders Green) he mumbled that he’d spent ages scrabbling around but just couldn’t find the switch. Oh great.
By this point I, and several other passengers, were muttering low, whimpered prayers to the effect that God was indeed great for sparing us a bloody and painful death in the middle lane of the M1.
Now, if this was an isolated event it would be one thing. But the coaches of Britain are, almost universally, like Dante’s lost circle of hell. The toilets never close, so the smell of stagnant piss permeates everywhere, anyone over five foot tall will end up welding their joints together from sitting like Quasimodo, and they are miserably, grindingly slow and you usually get dribbled on by the person sleeping next to you.
I’m not saying murder is right or anything - I’ve never yet had the urge to saw off someone’s head and eat it - but I can sort of see why people are driven to acts of wild and animalistic violence during these journeys (if you never want to sleep happily again, then read this).
And as Britain’s economy sinks and the recession hits Britain, you can be sure many of us will soon be Megabus customers. I’m going to go and write my will.