Day 1: Slightly lost. Ask an old derro if the 277 bus goes past here.
“No Sevens here!” he shouts and I move away just a little. “No mate, not here. Only Sixes come past here” he yells.
He unfolded himself from the footpath, his shaggy eyebrows curling over his eyes like great grey caterpillars as he squinted at me, juggling his false teeth.
“Where yer from?”
“Three Kings” I told him, but that didn’t wash. People who lived in Three Kings knew where to catch the Sevens and wouldn’t be asking the way…. Must be the beret I’m wearing.
Day 2: Buses are naf – I’m an Aucklander and so, am wedded to my car. But after a day teaching I’m ready to stroll under clear blue skies. At the Grafton Bridge bus stop, a young Maori plonks himself beside me just as I take money from my wallet. “Mate – you got a dollar?” I tell him no, but he’s seen the colour of the folded stuff. ” You got $20 in there mate – you give me that?” That’s inflation for you. I shake my head and fortunately he boards the next bus, remonstrating with the driver. Another Maori comes forward to pay his fare. My bus arrives and a Middle Eastern student ushers me on ahead of him.
Day 3: Babyboomers abound on buses. Most sit quietly without earphones, unlike the young who are all wired. A few Boomers bore fellow passengers with cantankerous versions of The Way It Used to Be. One portly man slumps on a bus seat after a brief run, crying out “Lordie, oh Lordie!“. It’s cabaret, an embarrassing confusion of orgasmic ecstasy and exhaustion.
Day 4: Workmen are everywhere on Symonds Street, the city’s arterial to the Uni and the law courts. They smooth swathes of concrete while behind orange barricades, diggers create new holes. In the midst of all this activity, a skateboarder rattles down the Street and everybody stops. He’s an accident waiting to happen because he’s in the wrong lane. Luckily there’s no traffic.
Day 5: Walking has its own rewards. Just off Symonds Street somebody has placed a park bench with a plaque which reads: On this site in 1897, nothing happened. Couldn’t say that about buses.