I wasn’t expecting a revelation on the bus.
Imagine, my first trip from Glasgow to Ayr on the X77 express. It’s a pretty hot ticket, if not for the right reasons – they couldn’t switch the heater off an a hot, hot day… but that’s another story. A big surprise was heading my way.
In the front of the bus there are two facing double seats over a table. I made it into the corner seat at the window in one of these. Moments later an older woman and a teenager came into the seat opposite. We set off. Before long the big double-decker cantered along the motorway from Glasgow to the Ayrshire coast.
The conversation opposite me became more and more animated to the point I had to look up. The young woman grunted as she struggled with something under the table and at last dragged a large shopping bag onto the table. She peered over the top, plunged her hand into the contents and rummaged around. Next, attention only for her granny, she smiled and pulled out a book.
Her energy and excitement amazed me… all for a book? She fixed her eyes on her gran with a loving, childlike authenticity, and said, ‘Yesssss…’ She held the book, by it’s spine, in her left hand shook the cover towards her companion and poked the cover hard enough for the impact to be heard. She struck it a few times with her right finger, smiling, triumphant. I couldn’t see the cover. Her gran smiled and laughed with a knowledgable nod.
I had to know
Surprised by the event, and curiosity aroused, I had to ask. ‘You seem pretty pleased, I hope you don’t mind me asking… what’s the book?’ A thoughtful, intelligent gaze assessed me from clear gold flecked brown eyes. She wrinkled her straight nose, the sleeper through the flesh above the bridge. Next she smiled a sweet smile, her face morphing to mischief. The stud in her lower lip rose with her grin.
Once more her hand fumbled inside the big bag and she pulled out the book. With a theatrical gesture, she held the rear of it towards me in both hands and placed her beaming countenance beside it.
What was it?
Okay reader, pause for a second, what would you expect to see? Me? I thought Young Adult, Vampires, Werewolves. But no, none of those. She did a dramatic show… eyes wide and smiling locking her eyes to mine. ‘Ta-daa’ giggled out of her. She twirled the book cover towards me. Terry Pratchett.
We talked about her reading, her love of books. She found the fun of the Disc World series a delight. Gran approved. She and I talked about Philip Pullman as a possible author of interest. The lassie wrote down the name.
It turned out the youngster had been travelling from the SouthWest of England since 5:30 that morning, reading TP all the way. Tired (by now it was 7 pm) she was ‘glad to be home’. We talked about books for a wee while and then returned to our own worlds, with occasional hi there nods when we looked up.
Life goes on
I’d like to tell the lass how she changed a reader stereotype forever (and perhaps a couple of others too).
What a nice, articulate and interesting young bookworm. Not at all what I thought… more fool me. I hope we meet again one day.
by Mac Logan ©