Insanity (mainly bus nutters)
So my mate Kevin wants me to talk about insanity. And I’d better get weaving because I’ve got to meet someone for lunch at 12:45. So let’s see if I can get a thousand words out on insanity in about three quarters of an hour.
I don’t really know much about it. I haven’t been afflicted by it myself. When I stopped drinking for three years, it was interesting seeing the reaction of some of my friends. Some of them ( the ones who didn’t go out drinking with me, and didn’t know what a lightweight I was) thought that maybe I was giving up because I was an alcoholic. Some of them assumed that I’d been told I had to give up drinking because I was on some massively powerful psychotropic medication which would interact badly with Newcastle Brown Ale. Then again, there were some people who assumed that actually stopping drinking was a sign of madness – like my doctor. I remember telling my doctor that I hadn’t had a drink for about 18months and he looked at me like I’d just announced that I was pregnant with alien quintuplets. “You mean like spirits? You’re taking it easy. You’re still drinking wine and beer, maybe only at the weekends?”
“No, I’ve stopped drinking completely.”
He just shook his head, as if the thought were completely beyond him. Another nutter. One thing that I have learned from the world of amateur stand-up comedy is that taking anti-depression medication stops any problems that you might have had with premature ejaculation. In fact, rather weirdly I was standing next to a friend of mine from the stand-up comedy course while another guy came out with (that’s probably the wrong phrase, considering) almost his exact same routine about how anti-depression medication allowed the train to stop in the station, but somehow stopped the doors from opening and letting the passengers off (cf Woody Allen, Everything You Wanted to Know about Sex But were Afraid to Ask, he probably knows a thing or two about anti-depression medication).
That is one thing that I’ll say for stand-up comedy it’s rare anywhere else that I am in a crowd where I feel like I’m the well-dressed, slim, sane one.
One thing I can vouch for. If you’re the kind of person that is used to getting a good solid 7 hours sleep every night, just a little bit of jet lag that means that you’re sitting up wide awake and ready for a hearty breakfast at 3:30am in the morning, just that little bit of sleep denial can make you feel like a crazy person.
I know a bit about bus nutters. I once saw a brilliant bus nutter vignette on the number 50 bus in Birmingham. This Indian bloke got on the bus he was a bit pissed up and started menacing the other passengers. You could feel everybody tense. He wasn’t doing anything more than talking to the attractive women, but he was just being a bit too loud, a bit leery, but he knew – and we knew that he was misbehaving. Then at the next stop, this enormous Irishman got on, who was ROLLING, CAN BARELY STAND drunk. He then proceeded to sit next to the lairy Indian and shout very random things in a loud, whisky-scented voice. “Fucking Tescos I’ll ear your Radishes.” The Indian guy was really upset – he’d been out-nuttered. And he was trapped on the bus by an enormous booze-soaked Irish. And so the Indian started saying to the Irishman “Please be quiet! You are offending the other passengers!” and the Irishman would just answer in random, incoherent, sweet song “There’s no grouting on my wagon wheels Colleen!!!” Or some such. Truly, there are few things as beautiful as a bus out-nuttering. And all the other people on the bus just sniggered. The beaten-down, bitter snigger of the well-worn commuter.
I once did see a Polish guy get on a bus near Paddington (this is sounding really racist, better some stories against educated white people – Ed) and this guy was even more drunk than the out-nuttering Irishman. It was during a tube strike so the bus was absolutely packed. And this guy decided he was going to argue with the bus driver about how much the bus fare cost.
Bus Driver: “That’s two pounds twenty mate.”
Obliterated Pole: “Is too much!”
BD: “That’s the fare mate, pay it or get off!”
OP: “Is too much!!!”
ENTIRE COMMUTER POPULATION OF THE BUS AS ONE: “PAY THE FARE AND SIT THE FUCK DOWN.”
He sat down. Not another word. The lizard-brain self-preservation that protects all drunks kicked in. You could see the realisation in his eyes – “Hey – if I go one more step in the direction I’m heading I will be torn limb from limb by a murderous mob of monthly travel card holders.”
Truth be told, so far I’ve been lucky. I haven’t suffered from serious insanity myself, nor have any of my loved ones. And I know that that’s lucky because, apparently one in ten of us is going to suffer some kind of mental illness during our lifetimes. And I bet when it happens it’s (mostly) not funny.
I could go on a little bit of a rant about how insane it is to pretend to be wheat and lactose intolerant (the doctors have confirmed that I’m wheat and lactose intolerant, intolerant – people who are faddy about their food bring me out in a bright red rage) but the sad truth is that I don’t have dinner friends frequently enough these days to get annoyed about that kind of shit. Truth be told, I’d eat tofu cheesecake every day of the week if it meant I could see my friends more often. When I hit my forties all my friends seemed to be too busy either working or having children to hang out .
I wonder if you know when you’re the bus nutter? Do you only realise it when you’re out-nuttered?