Melissa Kite Melissa Kite

Real life | 19 November 2015

My first words to my Aussie airbnb customers were: ‘It is really really important that you do not get on a bus.’

I got on a bus. Well, I wasn’t to know, was I? I just saw a bus stop by the Science Museum and thought, ‘I know, I’ll get on a bus.’ That’s how long it has been since I’ve ventured on to the London roads.

Since driving became unfeasible due to congestion charging, I’ve been getting the Tube. I’ve thought about buses, but before credit card swiping the drivers would never let me on. I suppose I shouldn’t refuse to get an Oyster card because I don’t want the state to know where I am. It’s a foolish protest, but it’s my protest.

However, the other day I was suddenly possessed by the urge to travel above ground. So when I saw a stop on Exhibition Road advertising a location in south London not far from my home, I placed myself by it for the purpose of catching the Clapham omnibus.

If I had known the epic journey I was about to embark upon I would have taken a flask of something hot and fortifying; a sleeping bag; a map and compass; trekking trousers; some matches to light a fire; and some kind of defensive weaponry for when I had to abandon ship and fight my way through the wilds of Lambeth in the pitch dark.

You’ve read The Incredible Journey? Well, what I went through on that bus — or rather those buses, because one bus kept leading to another bus — easily outdoes the two dogs and a cat who ventured 300 miles through the Canadian wilderness. Those pets had it easy.

Transport for London claims the journey time from Kensington to Balham by bus is 37 minutes. When I say it was more than three hours and 37 minutes I mean it.

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